A “bored stone” from Southern Africa. This one is unprovenanced, a discard from the collections at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Stones like this added weight to digging sticks – used by the stone age hunter-gatherers for digging up tubers and corms. This is a relatively heavy example at 1.67 kg (5lbs) and may be quite early, perhaps from the latter part of the Middle Stone Age. It is made of a fairly soft schist, I think, and the outside is covered with pits and scratches.
But the really interesting bit is in the hole bored through the middle – after all that time the soft stone still displays the sharp gouges from when the hole was made. Near the surface the rotary boring marks are visible, but in the centre they have been overprinted by straight srcatches produced by the back-and forth motion to used to widen and finish the hole.
The whole artefact: a little over 4 ins (10cm) across, it weighs 1.67kg
Tools like this in Europe are often erroniously classified as “Mace-heads” but although some Neolithic examples appear to have had a ceremonial function, in most earlier cases it is unlikely that they were made as weapons or for any ritual display.