Friday, June 12, 2015

Aboriginal Jadeite Adze

         As we approach the date of the Annual Aboriginal Gathering and Pow Wow, the recent donation of a jadeite adze found south of Grimshaw area by Bill Veidt comes at an opportune time.
Jadeite Adze (on loan from Bill Veidt)
         Jadeite is a variety of jade, a strong and hardy material characterized by its distinctive green hue. Its strength lends itself well to tool-making, though the material itself is quite rare. This adze was therefore most likely an object of great importance and prestige. The crafting of such an device was a labour-intensive process, with countless hours of sawing, cutting, grinding and polishing. The product of these efforts is a long-lasting and high-quality tool that is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the First Nations craftsmen. The age of this adze could range from hundreds to thousands of years old. As you can see, it has withstood the test of time remarkably!
Bill Veidt
        While the majority of jadeite artifacts recovered in Alberta were found in the Peace River region, most jadeite tools are associated with the west coast of BC. This is because the First Nations peoples of BC had increased access to quarries and had developed larger-scale stoneworking and woodcutting practices relative to the more mobile people of the plains. The geology of BC is also such that jadeite, a metamorphic rock, forms much more commonly in mountainous regions raised by plate subduction. It is believed that this stone in particular came from the Fraser River Valley of BC. So, this tool was likely traded from afar and had quite a journey before arriving in the Peace Country.

Example of a completed adze
         Even more ancient tools can be found in the Archaeology Case in the Peace River Gallery of the museum, including chert and even black obsidian artifacts.

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