An adorable little ridged hammerstone from the Stephen Wheatland Collection

Julia Clark,
Curator of Collections

Adorable little ridged hammerstone from the Stephen Wheatland Collection
Over the last few years, long-time Abbe trustee and friend Alice Wellman has been sorting through and cleaning out her and her father’s archaeological collections. Her father, Stephen Wheatland, collected a variety of artifacts, starting in the 1930s, along the shores of Sorrento where the family spent summers and the lakes and rivers of northern Maine where he worked, fished and hunted.  Alice followed in his footsteps, and over the years took part in or led several Abbe Museum excavations, from Eastport to Aroostook County.  The Wellman-Wheatland archaeological collection now resides at the Abbe, where it will be taken excellent care of and made accessible in perpetuity.

The most recent batch of artifacts, re-discovered on a shelf in Stephen Wheatland’s boathouse in Sorrento, included this wonderful little hammerstone.  I was immediately charmed by it! (Oh, yeah, I immediately called it adorable!) Only 9 cm long, it is made from a small chunk of dark gray chert, possibly originating from the Munsungan Lake/Norway Bluff formation in northern Maine.  The chunk of stone was worked by a Wabanaki ancestor into just the size and shape they wanted. It was then used to hammer something, probably to create other stone tools, so that its carefully shaped edges developed the fine battering we can now see.

Why so small? Maybe the tool maker had little hands like mine. Maybe they needed a precision tool. I also wonder why it was discarded. It’s not broken- in fact it looks perfect!  Perhaps it just got too worn out to use. Whatever the case, it was discarded, and hundreds to thousands of years later, Stephen Wheatland picked it up of the shore in the 1950s, and eventually it made its way here to the Abbe.  What a little gift for a quiet November week in the Archaeology Lab.