Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2015
What type of implement was used to cut and move earth in prehistory? In the Mississippian culture at least, the key tool was the stone hoe – formed from a chert blade strapped to a handle. These blades were hoarded and depicted in use, leaving little doubt that they were for digging, in the service of agriculture and extracting earth for building. Drawing on a series of controlled experiments, the authors deduce the capabilities and biographies of the stone hoes, evoking the admirable efforts of the people who constructed the massive mounds of Cahokia.