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2018-10-19 18:45:02   •   ID: 2042

Grooved Abraders / Stone Polishers

Figure 1
This is a tool, made from sandstone, from the Saharan desert, found associated with Neolithic Arrowheads.

The multiple U- shaped grooves have a diameter between 5-9 mm.

I have already written about early polished artifacts and their functional advantages see here 1371 , but nothing about Grooved Abraders or Stone Polishers.

Their chronology may provide important informations about technological advances of our ancestors.

Grooved Abraders were for example used:

  • as arrow shaft straighteners together with controlled heat
  • for polishing beads
  • for shaping bone and antler objects


Grooved Abraders during the Paleolithic did not appeare until organic materials became more important in Human Culture . The discovery of bone awls and projectile points at a number of Still Bay and Howiesons Poort sites in South Africa, securely dated to between 75 k.a. and 60 k.a. , as well as the recent finding of a polished bone knife from Dar-es Soltan 1 cave, ca. 90 k.a. old, should prompt the search of early polishing stones during the MSA.

Currently only one example has been reported from the MSA of Klasies River (S-Africa)- unfortunately without any final publication.

European Paleolithic Grooved Abraders, most of them were made from sandstone , are known from the Middle/ Late Magdalenian and were first reported from Gourdan (Piette 1873) and later from La Madeleine (Capitan and Peyrony 1928) and other sites like Isturitz and Duruthy.

But such tools are much more older in Europe. The last inventory was published 25 years ago by Sophie A. De Beaune (see external link).

From De Beaunes data it is evident, that Polishers are known since the Aurignacian II at Poùligny-Sâint Pierre (Indre) and became more common during the Gravettian.

Gravettian sites include the Grotte d'Isturitz, Sâint-Mârtin-d'Arberesue (Pyrénées-Atlantiques); Abri Pataud, Les Eyzies-de-Tâyac (Dordogne); the Grotte du Trilobite, Arcy sùr Cure (Yonne); Abri du Petit-Puyroùsseau, Périgueux (Dordogne) and Grotte d'Engis, province de Liège (Belgium).

Many of the abraders have some similarities with the Neolithic piece shown in this blog in Figure 1.

Figure 2
More standardized polishers, mainly of baguette appearance with transversal grooves are known from the Near Eastern Epipaleolithic / Natufian and PPNA and B times (Figure 2). It is no surprise that such tools were imported by the first Farmers when they arrived in Europe.

Irina Usacheva gives an account about the transverse grooved artifacts from southwestern Asia and northern Eurasia. Some remarks about Grooved Abraders / Stone Polishers in the Sahara, which resembles polishers from the Near East can be found via persee.