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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Sanford Archaeological District – Bone Tool Caches

January 19, 2017

Bison scapula and deer mandible caches

Two specialized caches of bones were identified during excavations at the Sanford Archaeological District in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the early 1990s. One was a collection of six bison scapula hoes stacked in one pit (left). These were scapulas with the prominent ridges removed so they could be hafted as hoes. The other cache contained a pile of five deer mandibles (right), probably being stored for future use as well. The deer mandibles have had the bottom snapped off, leaving a relatively sharp straight edge. They are often called “sickles,” but the wear patterns suggest at least some uses other than cutting, perhaps also scraping.