3,900 Year Old Bone Armor
Aboriginal Stone Hatchets
Tongan War Clubs



Warrior's 3,900 Year Old Suit of Bone Armour Unearthed in Omsk

Archeologists are intrigued by the discovery of the complete set of well-preserved Bone Armour which is seen as having belonged to an Elite Warrior. The Armour was in perfect condition - and in its era was "More Precious than Life", say experts. It was buried separate from its owner and no other examples of such battle dress have been found around Omsk.

Nearby archeological finds are from the Krotov culture, who lived in a forest  steppe area of Western Siberia, but this bone armour more closely resembles that of the  Samus-Seyminskaya culture, which originated in the area of the Altai Mountains, some 1,000 km to the south east, and migrated to the Omsk area. The armour could have been a gift, or an exchange, or was perhaps the spoils of war.

Boris Konikov, curator of excavations, said: 'It is unique first of all because such armour was highly valued. It was more precious than life, because it saved life. 

'Secondly, it was found in a settlement, and this has never happened before. There were found separate fragments in burials.

Currently the experts say they do not know which creature's bones were used in making the armour. Found at a depth of 1.5 metres at a site of a sanatorium where there are now plans to build a five star hotel, the armour is now undergoing cleaning and restoration.

'We ourselves can not wait to see it, but at the moment it undergoing restoration, which is a is long, painstaking process. As a result we hope to reconstruct an exact copy', Boris Konikov said. 
Scientist Yury Gerasimov, a research fellow of the Omsk branch of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, said: 'While there is no indication that the place of discovery of the armour was a place of worship, it is very likely. Armour had great material value. There was no sense to dig it in the ground or hide it for a long time - because the fixings and the bones would be ruined.

'Such armour needs constant care. At the moment we can only fantasize - who dug it into the ground and for what purpose. Was it some ritual or sacrifice? We do not know yet.'

'Now we need to clean these small fragments of bone plates, make photographs and sketches of their location, and then glue them in a full plate.'

He is certain that the armour belonged to a "Hero", an "Elite Warrior who knew special methods of battle" and would have given good protection from weapons that were used at the time - bone and stone arrowheads, bronze knives, spears tipped with bronze, and bronze axes. 

The archeological site where the armour was found includes a complex of monuments belonging to different epochs. There are settlements, burial grounds, and manufacturing sites. Burials have been found here from the  Early Neolithic period to the Middle Ages. 

The site is beside the Irtysh River.

Stone Hatchets and Aboriginal Quarrying During the late Holocene Epoch
(Holocene - 10,000 years ago to present)

As woodlands expanded over much of Eastern Australia, Aboriginal people in these areas adopted and relied on ground-edged stone hatchets as a general purpose tool used for a variety of tasks: usage as a weapon; to cut open the limbs of trees to get possums from hollows; to split open trunks to get honey or grubs or the eggs of insects; to cut off sheets of bark for huts or canoe; to cut down trees; to shape wood into shields or clubs or spears; and, to butcher larger animals. The importance of this tool to Aboriginal people in eastern Australia is reflected by the fact there was at least one stone axe in every camp, in every hunting or fighting party, and in every group travelling through the bush.

The importance of ground edged stone hatchets was not confined to the utilitarian; they were also valued trade items that extended the range of social relationships well beyond the local group. Ethnographic records indicate that such exchanges were usually embedded in the regional network of prestige, marriage and ceremonial activity

Ground-edge axes come in different shapes, but they are usually either round or oval. They are sometimes rounded and narrow at one end, and slightly broader and straighter at the cutting edge. Most are 50–200 millimeters long, 40–100 millimeters wide and 20–60 millimeters thick. Typically they are ‘lens shaped’ when viewed from the side.

They were made from hard types of stone, particularly basalt or greenstone, and worn river pebbles. They may have one or more ground cutting edges, and they may be polished smooth all over. The ground surfaces are usually highly polished. They may have a groove pecked around their ‘waist’ so it is easier to attach a handle.
While ground-edge stone hatchets can be produced from a range of raw materials including river cobbles, the best raw materials occur in relatively few places and material suitable for ground-edged hatchets was extracted from specific quarry locations selected for the suitability of the material for its use for cutting, scraping, pounding and chopping.

A number of quarries used to obtain material for ground stone hatchet head production are known. These include Moore Creek in northern New South Wales, Lake Moondarra in Queensland Mount Camel in Victoria. There are, however, only a few quarries that were intensively worked and the stone hatchet heads from these quarries were traded over long distances. The ground stone hatchet heads and the quarries from which they were obtained are the product of social and technological adaptations by Aboriginal people in response to the expansion of woodlands during the late Holocene.

Stone Grinding Tool

Although we do not know exactly when this started it must have been sometime in the last 1,500 years, the period during which Aboriginal people in south-east Australia used greenstone hatchets.

Greenstone Axe Blank

The Mount William Stone Hatchet Quarry

William Buckley, an escaped convict living in the bush from 1803 to 1833 provides the earliest European reference to the Mount William Quarry, describing a hard, black stone from a place called Kar-keen which was shaped into stone heads.

William von Blandowski, the first zoologist at the Melbourne Museum, visited Mount William in 1854 and provides this account of the quarry.

"The celebrated spot which supplies the natives with stone (phonolite) for their tomohawks, and of which I had been informed by the tribes 400 miles distant. Having observed on the tops of these hills a multitude of fragments of stones which appeared to have been broken artificially."

"Here I unexpectedly found the deserted quarries (kinohahm) of the aboriginals."

"The quarries extend over an area of upwards of 100 acres . They are situated midway between the territories of two friendly tribes, - the Mount Macedon and Goulburn, - who are too weak to resist the invasion of the more powerful tribes; many of whom, I was informed, travel hither several hundred of miles in quest of this invaluable rock. The hostile intruders, however, acknowledge and respect the rights of the owners, and always meet them in peace"
The Mount William stone hatchet quarry was an important source of stone hatchet heads which were traded over a wide area of south-east Australia.

The quarry area has evidence for both surface and underground mining, with 268 pits and shafts, some several metres deep, where sub-surface stone was quarried.

There are 34 discrete production areas providing evidence for the shaping of stone into hatchet head blanks. Some of these areas contain mounds of manufacturing debris up to 20 metres in diameter.

At Mount William, the number, size and depth of the quarry pits; the number and size of flaking floors and associated debris; and the distance over which hatchet heads were traded is outstanding for showing the social and technological response by Aboriginal people to the expansion of eastern Australian woodlands in the late Holocene.

Not all hatchet heads came from Mount William, although that quarry was probably the most important in the region. Outcroppings of silcrete, which was favoured for making small flaked implements, are known to occur in the Keilor area and on the Mornington Peninsula.
Ground-edged Stone Hatchet

Australian Aboriginal Stone Axes

Ground-edged Stone Hatchet
Sturt Creek (Western Australia)

The head is of a very dark and hard green stone, ground to a fine edge, and is set between the two arms of the handle and held in place with spinifex gum. The handle is formed by bending round (probably by means of fire) a single strip of wood. The two arms of the handle are sometimes held together by a band of hair-string. 

Source: Spinifex and Sand by David W. Carnegie A Narrative of Five Years' Pioneering and Exploration in Western Ausralia 1892

Pacific Oceanic Tongan War Clubs

Tongan clubs have been used throughout pre and post-contact times. Prior to the introduction of iron materials by Captain Cook and other sailors, sharks tooth, bone, and stone were used to etch designs onto the clubs. However, after the introduction of iron materials such as nails, club designs became very elaborate and decorative through the ease of these tools. There are various types of clubs found throughout Tonga. These clubs were used for warfare and traditional dance as in the Me'etu'upaki.

In Western Polynesia, each island group developed a variety of styles of long clubs made from ironwood (Casuarina equisetifolia). Many Tongan clubs are elaborated with large areas of very skilful geometric incising, frequently including small animal and human design motifs. Other Tongan clubs are smooth-surfaced and have carved ivory, whalebone, or pearl shell inlays usually in the form of circles, crescents and stars, though other shapes are occasionally found. Fijians also use inlay on some of their clubs, and it is thought that they adopted this technique from the Tongan. It is likely that elaborately made clubs with inlay, such as these, were ceremonial and served as badges of office

Tongan clubs can be differentiated from similar Fijian war club forms by the presence of a lug for a wrist thong at the base of the butt. Tongan clubs can be further differentiated from Samoan clubs, which also have a lug, on the basis of lug form. In Samoan examples, the lugs are usually triangular and occupy the entire width of the club base. In Tongan clubs, these lugs are more often rectangular or arched and do not traverse the width of the base. Sometimes Tongan weapons have holes chiseled into the base for the attachment of wrist thongs

According to A. Mills Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia Tongan club “Akau comprise roughly 20 percent of the Polynesian art collected on the Captain James Cook voyages of the 1770s; consequently, they are the single most numerous class of documented 18th century Polynesian artwork, heavily outnumbering all other Tongan artifacts”

Tongan Club

Tongan Club Detail

Throwing Club

Paddle Club

There are several categories of Tongan War Clubs

1) Kolo - The short throwing club

2) Povai - The pole club which can be compared to a baseball bat in shape with the same flared rounded head

3) There is also a variation of the povai with a flattened top to the clubhead

4) Apa'apai - The club with a diamond-sectioned flat-topped head sometimes referred to as a coconut-stalk club, although it is the actual coconut leaf midrib which is meant

5)There is also a type of apa'apai that is similar but with a head that is more spatulate and rounded at the upper end like a paddle club

6) Moungalaulau - The paddle club with its rounded upper end was often distinguished by finely carved decoration over its entire surface and was sometimes found with and without a transverse ridged collar or cross rib.

The above pictures are close ups of the apa'apai variety club. The designs are intricate and vary from club to club



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