Digging stick

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Digging stick

In archaeology and anthropology, a digging stick, or sometimes yam stick, is the term given to a variety of wooden implements used primarily by subsistence-based cultures to dig out underground food such as roots and tubers or burrowing animals and anthills.[1] They may also have other uses in hunting, or general domestic tasks.

They are common to the Indigenous Australians but also other peoples worldwide and normally consist of little more than a sturdy stick which has been shaped or sharpened and perhaps hardened by being placed temporarily in a fire. It is a simple device, and has to be tough and hardy in order not to break.

Mexico and the Mesoamerican Region[edit]

In Mexico and the Mesoamerican region, the digging stick was used for traditional agriculture such as for cultivating maize, and still is used for agriculture in some indigenous communities. It is known as a coa stick in this area and usually flares out into a triangle at the end. Some newer 20th century versions have added a little metal on the tip. Digging sticks were the most important agricultural digging tools used in Mesoamerica and throughout the ancient Americas.[2][3]

According to Native Americans of the Columbia Plateau, digging sticks have been used since time immemorial to gather edible roots like balsamroot, bitterroot, camas, and varieties of biscuitroot. Typical digging sticks were and still are two to three feet in length, usually slightly arched, with the bottom tip shaved off at an angle. A five to eight inch cross-piece made of antler, bone, or wood fits perpendicularly over the top of the stick, allowing the use of two hands to drive the tool into the ground. Since contact with Europeans in the nineteenth century, Native Americans have also adapted the use of metal in making digging sticks.

Ethiopia[edit]

The most common digging stick found in Ethiopia is the ankassay in Amharic, a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia and the second-most spoken Semitic language in the world. The ankassay is a single shaft that is about 4-5 feet in length with a socket-hafted pointed iron blade as the tip.[4]

Harar Region[edit]

There exists two other digging sticks that are considered to be unusual due to it’s function as its basic use of other digging sticks and it’s use as a plow.

In the Harar region, located in east-central Ethiopia, the digging stick found is referred to as the deungora. This particular digging stick is about 110 centimeters, or approximately 3.6 feet, in length with a socket-hafted pointed iron blade as the tip. What’s unique about this digging stick is that a bored stone, about 15 centimeters in diameter, is attached at the opposing end. This stone shares the same form as other bored stones that have been discovered in archaeological sites in Africa.[5]

The maresha is the Gurage name, also the same word used by the Amhara, for a digging stick that differs in construction because of its forked form, that is used primarily to dig holes for construction, planting, and harvesting roots and tubers. This tool is used as a plow to turn over the soil of an entire field before planting. It is used to break clods of soil in areas where the soil is hard or in areas that may be too steep for plowing, and to dig holes for construction or to transplant domestic plants. When compared to the ankassay, this digging stick can perform the same duties and in addition can be used as a hoe.[6]

Kuman People[edit]

The Kuman People were horticulturists. They would use a digging stick, the wooden hoe, and the wooden spade in their gardens.[7] The digging stick was used by men to turnover the soil surface. Women also use the small digging stick. As time went on, the Kuman People started to use more sophisticated tools such as the iron spades and pick-axes.[8] These tools, especially the digging stick, for the Kuman People were useful instruments for their daily life.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved July 24, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/digging stick
  2. ^ Study the Digging Stick Mexicolore.
  3. ^ Uictli Mexicolore.
  4. ^ Simoons, Frederick J. "The Forked Digging Stick of the Gurage", "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie", Berlin, Retrieved February 27 2015.
  5. ^ Simoons, Frederick J. "The Forked Digging Stick of the Gurage", "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie", Berlin, Retrieved February 27 2015.
  6. ^ Simoons, Frederick J. "The Forked Digging Stick of the Gurage", "Zeitschrift für Ethnologie", Berlin, Retrieved February 27 2015.
  7. ^ Nilles, John. "The Kuman people: A study of cultural change in a primitive society in the Central Highlands of New Guinea." Oceania (1953): 1-27.
  8. ^ Nilles, John. "The Kuman people: A study of cultural change in a primitive society in the Central Highlands of New Guinea." Oceania (1953): 1-27.

External links[edit]

Media related to Digging sticks at Wikimedia Commons