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  • Soapstone pieces

    Here is a photo I took this morning showing a person on another forum some soapstone pieces. The big piece with quarter is a boiling stone and the other piece on top left is something I was not sure of. the bottom left is a piece of stone not soapstone and is the end of a gorget. Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    Cool pieces for sure John. I have heard of boiling stones and the name seems to pretty much describe the use. Why do ya think it has that hole drilled through it? Like a percolation thing maybe?
    The chase is better than the catch...
    From the flatlands of N'Eastern Illinois...

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    • willjo
      willjo commented
      Editing a comment
      They were supposed to be used before pottery and were placed in the fire to heat them then dropped in something that could not be placed over a fire to cook food in a skin or basket. Hole to lift out of fire.

  • #3
    Originally posted by BabaORiley View Post
    Cool pieces for sure John. I have heard of boiling stones and the name seems to pretty much describe the use. Why do ya think it has that hole drilled through it? Like a percolation thing maybe?
    I think it's so you can lift it with a stick when it's too hot to handle with the hands?

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    • #4
      Good thought CMD...could very well be...
      The chase is better than the catch...
      From the flatlands of N'Eastern Illinois...

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      • #5
        I'm sure I would have a tough time separating boiling stones from steatite shards with repair holes. I have seen bowls that broke, and then holes were drilled in the greater remaining bowl, then holes drilled in pieces broken off, then the broken piece would have been reattached to the bowl. So, when I find pieces like these shown below, I always assume repair holes. Both these pieces show evidence of second holes besides the one hole seen. The larger piece shows that evidence on side not seen. Not sure if any of the drilled sherds I have found are actual boiling stones, but I know they must exist up here...

        Click image for larger version

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        • #6
          What is a boiling stone?
          "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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          • #7
            I'm not to sure the use of these pieces as " boiling stones " is actually fact. I think that is an old timers theory and collectors opinion. There's no evidence that Native Americans fashioned pieces of soapstone, drilled them, and used them to heat water. This sort of goes along with the old theory that a piece of flint was first heated, and then if you dropped cold water on it, you could chip arrowheads that way. If these were put in a fire and heated , first, the stone would be blackened, 2nd, it would be really unhandy to hold a leather pouch full of water and use a stone to heat the water. 3rd, why go to the time and effort to cut a piece of soapstone and polish it to be used as a boiling stone, when any natural round pebble would do the same thing. What Charlie has are pieces of soapstone bowls with repair holes. The one pictured with a quarter is probably the samne thing, but being larger, it could be in the process of making a soapstone bead or pendant.
            http://www.ravensrelics.com/

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            • willjo
              willjo commented
              Editing a comment
              I did not get my information from the old boy theory, I got it from the book Beneath these waters an archaeological study of an area of the Savannah River that was to be covered by waters from the Russel dam. Although they were called Boiling stones they felt that was what they were used for because they were found near the fire pits. Beneath these Waters is an online book and can be looked up pages 45,46 and 47 contains information on the finding of these stones

            • pkfrey
              pkfrey commented
              Editing a comment
              My opinion was not directed at where you personally read or heard this theory, I only noted it as a general theory adopted by old time collectors from way back in the early days, say early 1900s. I meant old time collectors as a group. And that was actually a theory that farmers thought that's the way arrowheads were made. But since the question was asked, I offered an opinion. Small round stones were heated and dropped in a container, usually a metal container, by the Plains Indians to heat water. I was just skeptical of prehistoric natives cutting and drilling pieces of soapstone for the same purpose. If you took anything personal from my statement, I apologize!

          • #8
            Interesting post you got going here Johnny. Lots of info being passed around.
            Pickett/Fentress County, Tn - Any day on this side of the grass is a good day. -Chuck-

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            • #9
              I did not realize it until now, but I have photos from the steatite exhibit at the Robbins Museum of the Massachusetts Archeological Society, which includes a bowl with repair holes, and a description of same. The description mentions binding cracks that develop from repeated heating of the bowls, rather then actual pieces broken off, but maybe both situations held true, I am not sure really.

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              The description card will be a bit out of focus; mentions repair holes at end of description, and it's the bowl to the left..

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              The bowl in question...

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              Last edited by CMD; 07-01-2018, 02:31 PM.

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              • #10
                Click image for larger version

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ID:	306131 The constant heating and then cooling of these bowls would create breaks in any weak areas of the stone. Here's a photo of repair holes drilled in a soapstone vessel that was found in pieces near Lake Cumberland, Tn. When the bowl became broken in to many places, since the holes were already there, the natives would take that piece of soapstone and work it down into a bead or pendant. You can tell if the bead or pendant was made from a piece of the bowl from the one side being slightly concave, and may still exhibit a few gouging marks. Beads made from other soapstone pieces are normally convex on both sides. Here's two beads. The first was finished from a piece of a soapstone bowl. You can still see the gouging marks and concave side. The other was made from a separate piece of soapstone not reused from a broken bowl piece.
                http://www.ravensrelics.com/

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                • #11
                  Here's a few interesting pieces of soapstone artifacts that I've found. The first is the bottom of a small bowl, measures about 7" across. The next is a piece of a different bowl showing the lug handle. The next is a piece of a small bowl with a design engraved on it. I wish I had the whole design. The next pic shows the thickness and curve of the bowl. The last artifact may or may not be N/A. It is half of a soapstone mold used to cast small buckles. It was found on a N/A site, but may be Colonial. It was clearly carved with a metal tool, (Contact Era?) the buckle would be about 1/2" long, quite small for any practical applications, could it have been for decorative purposes? Melted lead or tin could have been used in it.


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                  • willjo
                    willjo commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Those are interesting pieces

                  • Hoss
                    Hoss commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I ilke that buckle mold . Can I have it? LOL maybe when you are done with it I can have it? Pretty please. Just kidding man I know you like it as much sas I do maybe even more so than me.

                • #12
                  I do not have photos at the moment but Johnny sent me a couple of the cooking stones. The holes are larger than holes I have ever seen on New England steatite repair work. Why would such a large hole be made. Perhaps it was for ease of grasping to fish out of the pot. I also doubt the color would change if it was just heated next to a fire and not in direct smoke and soot sbove the flames. I wonder if any experimental archaeology has been done with similar steatite stone to see if it actually holds heat better than other stones.
                  Last edited by Hoss; 07-06-2018, 10:18 AM.
                  TN formerly CT Visit our store http://stores.arrowheads.com/store.p...m-Trading-Post

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                  • #13
                    There is refrence to cooking stones in this article too. There are artifacts found throughout the unique geographic areas of the country. Just as New ENgland has Ulu's Slate spears and Gouges the South East has it's own unique artifacts. I do believe what Johnny gave me and what he pictured are Cooking stones. Steatite does have unique thermal properties and can be transported. There are areas where other rock is just not present and as refrenced in the article other types of rock do break down after several uses. Steatte does not break down from the heating and cooling.

                    https://findery.com/WorldHistoricalM...age-preserve-1
                    TN formerly CT Visit our store http://stores.arrowheads.com/store.p...m-Trading-Post

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                    • #14
                      A wise old Indian once said, " A closed mouth gathers not feet!" I am pulling my foot out of my mouth as we speak ( or type, in this case ). ! I only knew of boiling stones being used by the Plains Indians, with the evidence for that being in written, documented records. I did not know the use of soapstone pieces was accepted as boiling stones by collectors, and didn't know this was actually a proposed use of soapstone pieces with large holes. I like to be as accurate as possible to help out with an opinion, so I usually research the subject before I offer an opinion. In this case I just opened my big mouth before I knew what I was talking about. Anyway, I did further research on several internet sites, www.southlandstone.com, www.jimmausartifacts.com, www.thoughtco.com,-( search " boiling stones " ), and a few more. Without writing a short novel here, in summary, it is thought that pieces of soapstone were heated, and were drilled to facilitate a stick, and used in the process of boiling water through indirect heating.. But the boiling stones were used in containers that could not withstand the direct heat of a fire, such as animal skins, basketry, and even some pottery vessels. So now I know when someone shows me an odd piece of soapstone with a large hole in it, I can suggest it was used as a " boiling stone ", an indirect method of heating water to cook meat and plants. So, I give up, I have no defense, I have learned something new, Thank You!!
                      p.s. If i mispelloed anyting, tat's becaus it's hard to typ with my foot in my mooth !!!
                      Last edited by pkfrey; 07-06-2018, 02:42 PM.
                      http://www.ravensrelics.com/

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