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Mano + Metate

Today we’re looking closely at a granite mano and schist metate, used by Native Americans in the Antelope Valley for processing plant remains such as Piñon Pine nuts.

Groundstone tools are used for processing plants and have become common cultural remains from 8,000 and 6,000 BCE. This shift in material culture indicates an increased dependence on plants as food sources. Though the Native Americans local to the Antelope Valley did not engage in agricultural practices, they utilized a variety of naturally abundant plant resources in the area as a means of subsistence.

Groundstone tools are usually made of basalt, granite, rhyolite, or other cryptocrystalline and igneous stones whose coarse and dense structure makes them ideal for grinding organic materials. Metamorphic rocks, such as schist and gneiss, are also commonly used to make groundstone tools.

The most common types of these tools are classified as mano, metate, mortar, and pestle.

A mano, which is the Spanish word for ‘hand’, is a handheld grinding stone used in accordance with a metate. A mano is held in one or two hands and moved back and forth or in a slightly circular motion along a horizontal plane of the larger stone slab. Over time, the surface of the mano becomes worn down and smooth.

A metate is a large, flat stone slab used as the platform for processing plant remains. Over time and through continued use, a depression forms in the center from the horizontal friction caused by a mano.

"Antelope Valley Indian Museum, Antelope Valley Indian Peoples,

Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"


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