Results of an exploratory study, that set out to investigate the types of use-wear that could be observed on ground-edged artefacts from the NSW Central Coast of eastern Australia, are presented. The main findings are the multiple activities for which the hatchets were used and the types of materials which they worked. Some of the activities and materials are not noted in historical accounts for southeastern Australia, and suggestions are raised about possible uses of hatchets by women. Among new results are uses for the unusual ground-edged hammer/pounders which are not recorded in the historical literature and which seem to be almost restricted to the NSWCC.
Basic functional data about the actions undertaken and materials worked by the hatchets and hammer/pounders were obtained using low- and high-power microscopy, and by comparing wear traces recorded in previous use-wear studies and on experimental basalt tools.
The use-wear analyses, not only identified activities that created the ‘battered’ edges, but also revealed a greater multiplicity of uses of the ground-edged artefacts than hitherto identified. Eighteen wear-types document use of ground-edged artefacts for working wood, skin and ochre, abrading and polishing bone, and as hammers and anvils in working stone. Non-woody plant material was processed by both hatchets and hammer/pounders. The activities and processed materials identified by the use-wear analysis, especially those referred to as hammer/pounders, give new insights into understanding the diversity of forms and multiple functions of this class of implement in Australia.
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