This large sandstone seed-grinding dish is from the arid zone in western New South Wales. The dish was made by hammerdressing and is heavily worn, and it is probably less than 2000 year old. This artefact was collected by the ‘mother of Australian archaeology’, Isobel McBryde.
The dish in this model was manufactured by hammerdressing, and the pits from this technique are readily apparent. Hammerdressing was also used to resharpen grinding surfaces when they became too smooth, and remnants of previous resharpening are visible. Grinding dishes were often made at sandstone quarries associated with sacred storylines, and the stones were extensively traded throughout the arid zone.
See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.
The artefact is curated in the UNE Museum of Antiquities.
Grinding dishes like this were critical tools for subsisting in the arid zone of Australia during the Holocene period. Aboriginal people used them to grind native grass seeds into flour. The deep groove on the face of this grinding dish was created by attrition during seed grinding. Wear is also apparent on the opposite face, but it is less worn and a groove was not established. Both worn faces were offset from the centre of the dish, perhaps to make it easier to brush the flour into a container, such as a coolamon. The worn areas are next to the left edge of the tool on both faces, suggesting that this configuration was a deliberate part of the tool’s design.