Quern-stones are stone tools for hand-grinding a wide variety of materials. They are used in pairs; the lower, stone is called a quern, while the upper mobile stone is called a handstone. The central hole is called a handle slot enables the handstone to be rotated, they were first used in the Neolithic era to grind cereals into flour. An old Gaelic proverb is "The quern performs best when the grindstone has been pitted." The upper stones were concave whilst the lower was convex and sometimes a rind was present as a piece of wood etc that allowed the cereal etc to be added but still acted as a centering device. The upper stone sometimes had a cup shaped area around the hopper hole with a raised edge. Most handstones have a handle hole on the upper surface, however one class of quern-stones have a slot handle which indicates that a piece of wood was placed horizontally and protruded out from the edge so that the operator could turn the stone by standing and using a rod vertically. One class of upper quern-stones has from two to three sockets for the rod used to turn them and this is thought to reflect the need to reduce wear and tear by having alternative points of contact when in active use.
Quern-stones have been used by numerous civilizations throughout the world to grind materials, the most important of, grain to make flour for bread-making. They were replaced by millstones once mechanised forms of milling appeared the water mill and the windmill, although animals were used to operate the millstones. However, in many non-Westernised, non-mechanised cultures they are still manufactured and used and have only been replaced in many parts of the world in the last century or so. In early Maya civilizations the process of nixtamalization was distinctive in that hard, ripe kernels of maize were boiled in water and lime, thus producing nixtamal, made into unleavened dough for flat cakes by grinding with a handstone on a quern. Quern stones were used in China at least 10,000 years ago to grind wheat into flour; the production of flour by rubbing wheat by hand took several hours. Due to their form and the nature of the treatment of the surfaces, they reproduce the most ancient implements used for grinding cereal grain into flour.
Saddle querns were known in China during the Neolithic Age but rotary stone mills did not appear until the Warring States Period. A prehistoric quern dating back to 23,000 BCE was found at the Longwangchan archaeological site, in Hukou, Shaanxi in 2007; the site is located in the heartland of the northern Chinese loess plateau near the Yellow River. As well as grain, ethnographic evidence and Mesopotamian texts show that a wide range of foodstuffs and inorganic materials were processed using stone querns or mortars, including nuts, fruit, herbs, meat, pigments and clay. Moreover, one study analysing quern-stones noted that a number of querns had traces of arsenic and bismuth, unlike their source rocks, had levels of antimony which were ten times higher than those of the rocks; the authors concluded that this was due to the use of these querns in the preparation of medicines, dyes or in the manufacture of alloys. Querns were used in grinding metals ores after mining extraction; the aim was to liberate fine ore particles which could be separated by washing for example, prior to smelting.
They were thus used in gold mining in antiquity. In the Shetlands tobacco was not smoked when first introduced, but instead was ground up into snuff, inhaled up the nose. Snuff-querns consisted of an lower stone, fixed together by a central iron pivot; the quern was held on the user's lap, the eye of the quern was filled with dried tobacco leaves, the upper-stone was turned using the handle. The friction caused by the turning ground the leaves into a fine powder that built up around the edge of the lower-stone. Many snuff-querns had a small hole or cut made near the edge of the upper-stone, into which a pointed end of a lamb's horn was placed in order to turn the stone. There are, more surprising recorded uses of quern-stones. For example, DeBoer, in his review of the traditional gambling games of North American tribes, reports that one of the games involved bouncing a group of split canes off a quern. Violence is recorded in the Book of Judges: “But a certain woman threw an upper-millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushed his skull.”
The best type of stone from which to manufacture quern-stones are igneous rocks such as basalt. These have rough surfaces, but grains do not detach so the material being ground does not become gritty. However, such rocks are not always available, meaning that quern-stones have been manufactured from a wide variety of rocks, including sandstone and limestone. Quernmore Crag near Lancaster in England is named after the quarrying of millstone grit used to make quern stones in these parts. Rutter was able to show, for the southern Levant, that basalt quern-stones were preferred to those manufactured from other rock types. Basalt quern-stones were therefore transported over long-distances, leading him to argue that, despite their every-day, utilitarian function, they were used as a status symbol. Research in Scotland has indicated. Knocking stones were used in the preparation of small quantities of cereal however the earliest forms of quern were the saddle and trough querns; the earliest quern so far was found at Abu Hureyra, Syria.
A development was the rotary quern, which takes several forms. The saddle quern is produced by rocking or rolling
Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that second group. Charles Darwin recognized the small number of traits that made domestic species different from their wild ancestors, he was the first to recognize the difference between conscious selective breeding in which humans directly select for desirable traits, unconscious selection where traits evolve as a by-product of natural selection or from selection on other traits. There is a genetic difference between wild populations. There is such a difference between the domestication traits that researchers believe to have been essential at the early stages of domestication, the improvement traits that have appeared since the split between wild and domestic populations. Domestication traits are fixed within all domesticates, were selected during the initial episode of domestication of that animal or plant, whereas improvement traits are present only in a proportion of domesticates, though they may be fixed in individual breeds or regional populations.
The dog was the first domesticated vertebrate, was established across Eurasia before the end of the Late Pleistocene era, well before cultivation and before the domestication of other animals. The archaeological and genetic data suggest that long-term bidirectional gene flow between wild and domestic stocks – including donkeys, horses and Old World camelids, goats and pigs – was common. Given its importance to humans and its value as a model of evolutionary and demographic change, domestication has attracted scientists from archaeology, anthropology, zoology and the environmental sciences. Among birds, the major domestic species today is the chicken, important for meat and eggs, though economically valuable poultry include the turkey and numerous other species. Birds are widely kept as cagebirds, from songbirds to parrots; the longest established invertebrate domesticates are the silkworm. Terrestrial snails are raised for food, while species from several phyla are kept for research, others are bred for biological control.
The domestication of plants began at least 12,000 years ago with cereals in the Middle East, the bottle gourd in Asia. Agriculture developed in at least 11 different centres around the world, domesticating different crops and animals. Domestication, from the Latin domesticus,'belonging to the house', is "a sustained multi-generational, mutualistic relationship in which one organism assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another organism in order to secure a more predictable supply of a resource of interest, through which the partner organism gains advantage over individuals that remain outside this relationship, thereby benefitting and increasing the fitness of both the domesticator and the target domesticate." This definition recognizes both the biological and the cultural components of the domestication process and the impacts on both humans and the domesticated animals and plants. All past definitions of domestication have included a relationship between humans with plants and animals, but their differences lay in, considered as the lead partner in the relationship.
This new definition recognizes a mutualistic relationship. Domestication has vastly enhanced the reproductive output of crop plants and pets far beyond that of their wild progenitors. Domesticates have provided humans with resources that they could more predictably and securely control and redistribute, the advantage that had fueled a population explosion of the agro-pastoralists and their spread to all corners of the planet. Houseplants and ornamentals are plants domesticated for aesthetic enjoyment in and around the home, while those domesticated for large-scale food production are called crops. Domesticated plants deliberately altered or selected for special desirable characteristics are cultigens. Animals domesticated for home companionship are called pets, while those domesticated for food or work are known as livestock; this biological mutualism is not restricted to humans with domestic crops and livestock but is well-documented in nonhuman species among a number of social insect domesticators and their plant and animal domesticates, for example the ant–fungus mutualism that exists between leafcutter ants and certain fungi.
Domestication syndrome is the suite of phenotypic traits arising during domestication that distinguish crops from their wild ancestors. The term is applied to vertebrate animals, includes increased docility and tameness, coat color changes, reductions in tooth size, changes in craniofacial morphology, alterations in ear and tail form, more frequent and nonseasonal estrus cycles, alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone levels, changed concentrations of several neurotransmitters, prolongations in juvenile behavior, reductions in both total brain size and of particular brain regions; the domestication of animals and plants began with the wolf at least 15,000 years before present, which led to a rapid shift in the evolution and demography of both humans and numerous species of animals and plants. The sudden appearance of the domestic dog in the archaeological record was followed by livestock and crop domestication, the transition of humans from foraging to farming in different places and times across the planet.
Around 10,000 YBP, a new way of life emerged for humans through the management and exploitation of plant and an
History of archery
The bow and arrow are known to have been invented by the end of the Upper Paleolithic, for at least 10,000 years archery was an important military and hunting skill, features prominently in the mythologies of many cultures. Archers, whether on foot, in chariots or on horseback were a major part of most militaries until about 1500 when they began to be replaced by firearms, first in Europe, progressively elsewhere. Archery continues to be a popular sport. Based on indirect evidence, the bow seems to have been invented near the transition from the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic, some 10,000 years ago; the oldest direct evidence dates to 8,000 years ago. The discovery of stone points that could have been employed successfully as insets for spears or arrows in Sibudu Cave, South Africa, has prompted the proposal that bow and arrow technology could have existed as early as 64,000 years ago. In the Levant, artifacts which may be arrow-shaft straighteners are known from the Natufian culture, onwards.
The Khiamian and PPN A shouldered. The oldest indication for archery in Europe comes from Stellmoor in the Ahrensburg valley north of Hamburg, Germany, they were associated with artifacts of the late Paleolithic. The arrows were made of pine and consisted of a mainshaft and a 15-20 centimetre long foreshaft with a flint point, they had shallow grooves on the base. The oldest definite bows known so far come from the Holmegård swamp in Denmark. In the 1940s, two bows were found there, dated to about 8,000 BP; the Holmegaard bows have flat arms and a D-shaped midsection. The center section is biconvex; the complete bow is 1.50 m long. Bows of Holmegaard-type were in use until the Bronze Age. Mesolithic pointed shafts have been found in England, Germany and Sweden, they were rather long, up to 120 cm and made of European hazel, wayfaring tree and other small woody shoots. Some still have flint arrow-heads preserved; the ends show traces of fletching, fastened on with birch-tar. The oldest depictions of combat, found in Iberian cave art of the Mesolithic, show battles between archers.
A group of three archers encircled by a group of four is found in Cueva del Roure, Morella la Vella, Castellón, Valencia. A depiction of a larger battle, in which eleven archers are attacked by seventeen running archers, is found in Les Dogue, Ares del Maestrat, Castellón, Valencia. At Val del Charco del Agua Amarga, Alcañiz, seven archers with plumes on their heads are fleeing a group of eight archers running in pursuit. Archery seems to have arrived in the Americas via Alaska, as early as 6000 BCE, with the Arctic small tool tradition, about 2,500 BCE, spreading south into the temperate zones as early as 2,000 BCE, was known among the indigenous peoples of North America from about 500 CE; the oldest Neolithic bow known from Europe was found in anaerobic layers dating between 7,400-7,200 BP, the earliest layer of settlement at the lake settlement at La Draga, Girona, Spain. The intact specimen is short at 1.08m, has a D-shaped cross-section, is made of yew wood. Stone wrist-guards, interpreted as display versions of bracers, form a defining part of the Beaker culture and arrowheads are commonly found in Beaker graves.
European Neolithic fortifications, arrow-heads and representations indicate that, in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Europe, archery was a major form of interpersonal violence. For example, the Neolithic settlement at Carn Brea was occupied between around 3700 and 3400 BC. Chariot-borne archers became a defining feature of Middle Bronze Age warfare, from Europe to Eastern Asia and India. However, in the Middle Bronze Age, with the development of massed infantry tactics, with the use of chariots for shock tactics or as prestigious command vehicles, archery seems to have lessened in importance in European warfare. In the same period, with the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon and the spread of the Andronovo culture, mounted archery became a defining feature of Eurasian nomad cultures and a foundation of their military success, until the massed use of guns. In China, crossbows were developed, Han Dynasty writers attributed Chinese success in battles against nomad invaders to the massed use of crossbows, first attested at the Battle of Ma-Ling in 341 BCE.
Ancient civilizations, notably the Persians, Egyptians, Indians, Koreans and Japanese fielded large numbers of archers in their armies. Arrows were destructive against massed formations, the use of archers proved decisive; the Sanskrit term for archery, came to refer to martial arts in general. Mounted archers were used as the main military force for many of the equestrian nomads, including the Cimmerians and the Mongols; the ancient Egyptian people took to archery as early as 5,000 years ago. Archery was widespread by the time of the earliest pharaohs and was practiced both for hunting and use in warfare. Legendary figures from the tombs of Thebes are depicted giving "lessons in archery"; some Egyptian deities are connected to archery. The "Nine bows" were a conventional representation
An arrow is a fin-stabilized projectile, launched via a bow, consists of a long straight stiff shaft with stabilizers called fletchings, as well as a weighty arrowhead attached to the front end, a slot at the rear end called the nock for engaging the bowstring. The use of bows and arrows by humans is common to most cultures. A craftsman who makes arrows is a fletcher, one that makes arrowheads is an arrowsmith; the oldest evidence of stone-tipped projectiles, which may or may not have been propelled by a bow, dating to c. 64,000 years ago, were found in Sibudu Cave, current South Africa. The oldest evidence of the use of bows to shoot arrows dates to about 10,000 years ago, they had shallow grooves on the base. The oldest bow so far recovered is about 8,000 years old. Archery seems to have arrived in the Americas with the Arctic small tool tradition, about 4,500 years ago. Arrow sizes vary across cultures, ranging from eighteen inches to six feet. However, most modern arrows are 75 centimetres to 96 centimetres.
Short arrows have been used, shot through a guide attached either to the bow or to the archer's wrist. These may fly farther than heavier arrows, an enemy without suitable equipment may find himself unable to return them; the shaft is the primary structural element of the arrow, to which the other components are attached. Traditional arrow shafts are made from strong, lightweight wood, bamboo or reeds, while modern shafts may be made from aluminium, carbon fibre reinforced plastic, or a combination of materials; such shafts are made from an aluminium core wrapped with a carbon fibre outer. A traditional premium material is Port Orford Cedar; the stiffness of the shaft is known as its spine, referring to how little the shaft bends when compressed, hence an arrow which bends less is said to have more spine. In order to strike a group of arrows must be spined. "Center-shot" bows, in which the arrow passes through the central vertical axis of the bow riser, may obtain consistent results from arrows with a wide range of spines.
However, most traditional bows are not center-shot and the arrow has to deflect around the handle in the archer's paradox. Bows with higher draw weight will require stiffer arrows, with more spine to give the correct amount of flex when shot; the weight of an arrow shaft can be expressed in GPI. The length of a shaft in inches multiplied by its GPI rating gives the weight of the shaft in grains. For example, a shaft, 30 inches long and has a GPI of 9.5 weighs 285 grains, or about 18 grams. This does not include the other elements of a finished arrow, so a complete arrow will be heavier than the shaft alone. Sometimes a shaft will be made of two different types of wood fastened together, resulting in what is known as a footed arrow. Known by some as the finest of wood arrows, footed arrows were used both by early Europeans and Native Americans. Footed arrows will consist of a short length of hardwood near the head of the arrow, with the remainder of the shaft consisting of softwood. By reinforcing the area most to break, the arrow is more to survive impact, while maintaining overall flexibility and lighter weight.
A barreled arrow shaft is one. This allows for an arrow that retains enough strength to resist flex. A Qing dynasty arrow shaft was examined by archery enthusiast Peter Dekker and found to exhibit the following qualities: Total shaft length: 944mm Thickness at waist line: 8.5mm Thickness at end of feather: 11mm Thickness 530mm from end: 12mm Thickness 300mm from end: 12mm Thickness 218mm from end: 11mm Thickness 78mm from end: 10mm Thickness at end: 9mmThe resultant point-of-balance of the arrow shaft was thus 38.5% of the length of the arrow from the tip. Barreled arrow shafts are considered the zenith of pre-industrial archery technology, reaching their peak design among the Ottomans; the arrowhead or projectile point is the primary functional part of the arrow, plays the largest role in determining its purpose. Some arrows may use a sharpened tip of the solid shaft, but it is far more common for separate arrowheads to be made from metal, horn, or some other hard material. Arrowheads are separated by function: Bodkin points are short, rigid points with a small cross-section.
They were made of unhardened iron and may have been used for better or longer flight, or for cheaper production. It has been mistakenly suggested that the bodkin came into its own as a means of penetrating armour, but research has found no hardened bodkin points, so it is that it was first designed either to extend range or as a cheaper and simpler alternative to the broadhead. In a modern test, a direct hit from a hard steel bodkin point penetrated Damascus chain armour. However, archery was not effective against plate armour, which became available to knights of modest means by the late 14th century. Blunts are unsharpened arrowheads used for types of target shooting, for shooting at stumps or other targets of opportunity, or hunting small game when the goal is to concuss the target without penetration. Blunts are made of metal or hard rubber, they may stun, occ
Irrigation is the application of controlled amounts of water to plants at needed intervals. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall. Irrigation has other uses in crop production, including frost protection, suppressing weed growth in grain fields and preventing soil consolidation. In contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed or dry land farming. Irrigation systems are used for cooling livestock, dust suppression, disposal of sewage, in mining. Irrigation is studied together with drainage, the removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area. Irrigation has been a central feature of agriculture for over 5,000 years and is the product of many cultures, it was the basis for economies and societies across the globe, from Asia to the Southwestern United States. Archaeological investigation has found evidence of irrigation in areas lacking sufficient natural rainfall to support crops for rainfed agriculture.
The earliest known use of the technology dates to the 6th millennium BCE in Khuzistan in the south-west of present-day Iran. Irrigation was used as a means of manipulation of water in the alluvial plains of the Indus valley civilization, the application of it is estimated to have begun around 4500 BC and drastically increased the size and prosperity of their agricultural settlements; the Indus Valley Civilization developed sophisticated irrigation and water-storage systems, including artificial reservoirs at Girnar dated to 3000 BCE, an early canal irrigation system from c. 2600 BCE. Large-scale agriculture was practiced, with an extensive network of canals used for the purpose of irrigation. Farmers in the Mesopotamian plain used irrigation from at least the third millennium BCE, they developed perennial irrigation watering crops throughout the growing season by coaxing water through a matrix of small channels formed in the field. Ancient Egyptians practiced basin irrigation using the flooding of the Nile to inundate land plots, surrounded by dykes.
The flood water remained until the fertile sediment had settled before the engineers returned the surplus to the watercourse. There is evidence of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhet III in the twelfth dynasty using the natural lake of the Faiyum Oasis as a reservoir to store surpluses of water for use during dry seasons; the lake swelled annually from the flooding of the Nile. The Ancient Nubians developed a form of irrigation by using a waterwheel-like device called a sakia. Irrigation began in Nubia some time between the third and second millennia BCE, it depended upon the flood waters that would flow through the Nile River and other rivers in what is now the Sudan. In sub-Saharan Africa irrigation reached the Niger River region cultures and civilizations by the first or second millennium BCE and was based on wet-season flooding and water harvesting. Evidence of terrace irrigation occurs in pre-Columbian America, early Syria and China. In the Zana Valley of the Andes Mountains in Peru, archaeologists have found remains of three irrigation canals radiocarbon-dated from the 4th millennium BCE, the 3rd millennium BCE and the 9th century CE.
These canals provide the earliest record of irrigation in the New World. Traces of a canal dating from the 5th millennium BCE were found under the 4th-millennium canal. Ancient Persia used irrigation as far back as the 6th millennium BCE to grow barley in areas with insufficient natural rainfall; the Qanats, developed in ancient Persia about 800 BCE, are among the oldest known irrigation methods still in use today. They are now found in the Middle East and North Africa; the system comprises a network of vertical wells and sloping tunnels driven into the sides of cliffs and of steep hills to tap groundwater. The noria, a water wheel with clay pots around the rim powered by the flow of the stream, first came into use at about this time among Roman settlers in North Africa. By 150 BCE the pots were fitted with valves to allow smoother filling as they were forced into the water; the irrigation works of ancient Sri Lanka, the earliest dating from about 300 BCE in the reign of King Pandukabhaya, under continuous development for the next thousand years, were one of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world.
In addition to underground canals, the Sinhalese were the first to build artificial reservoirs to store water. These reservoirs and canal systems were used to irrigate paddy fields, which require a lot of water to cultivate. Most of these irrigation systems still exist undamaged up to now, in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, because of the advanced and precise engineering; the system was further extended during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu. The oldest known hydraulic engineers of China were Sunshu Ao of the Spring and Autumn period and Ximen Bao of the Warring States period, both of whom worked on large irrigation projects. In the Sichuan region belonging to the state of Qin of ancient China, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System devised by the Qin Chinese hydrologist and irrigation engineer Li Bing was built in 256 BCE to irrigate a vast area of farmland that today still supplies water. By the 2nd century AD, during the Han Dynasty, the Chinese used chain pumps which lifted water from a lower elevation to a higher one.
These were powered by manual foot-pedal, hydraulic waterwheels, or rotating mechanical wheels pulled by oxen. The water was used for public works, providing water for urban residential quarters and palace gardens, bu
In agriculture, a terrace is a piece of sloped plane, cut into a series of successively receding flat surfaces or platforms, which resemble steps, for the purposes of more effective farming. This type of landscaping is therefore called terracing. Graduated terrace steps are used to farm on hilly or mountainous terrain. Terraced fields decrease both erosion and surface runoff, may be used to support growing crops that require irrigation, such as rice; the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the significance of this technique. Terraced paddy fields are used in rice and barley farming in east and southeast Asia, as well as the Mediterranean and South America. Drier-climate terrace farming is common throughout the Mediterranean Basin, where they are used for vineyards, olive trees, cork oak, etc. In the South American Andes, farmers have used terraces, known as andenes, for over a thousand years to farm potatoes and other native crops.
Terraced farming was developed by the Wari culture and other peoples of the south-central Andes before 1000 AD, centuries before they were used by the Inca, who adopted them. The terraces were built to make the most efficient use of shallow soil and to enable irrigation of crops by allowing runoff to occur through the outlet; the Inca built on these, developing a system of canals and puquios to direct water through dry land and increase fertility levels and growth. These terraced farms are found, they provided the food necessary to support the populations of great Inca cities and religious centres such as Machu Picchu. Terracing is used for sloping terrain. At the seaside Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, the villa gardens of Julius Caesar's father-in-law were designed in terraces to give pleasant and varied views of the Bay of Naples. Terraced fields are common in islands with steep slopes; the Canary Islands present a complex system of terraces covering the landscape from the coastal irrigated plantations to the dry fields in the highlands.
These terraces, which are named cadenas, are built with stone walls of skillful design, which include attached stairs and channels. In Old English, a terrace was called a "lynch". An example of an ancient Lynch Mill is in Lyme Regis; the water is directed from a river by a duct along a terrace. This set-up was used in steep hilly areas in the UK. In Japan, some of the 100 Selected Terraced Rice Fields, from Iwate in the north to Kagoshima in the south, are disappearing, but volunteers are helping the farmers both to maintain their traditional methods and for sightseeing purposes. Anden Banaue Rice Terraces Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras Satoyama Terrace garden Terrace Fields around the World
A metate or metlatl is a type or variety of quern, a ground stone tool used for processing grain and seeds. In traditional Mesoamerican culture, metates were used by women who would grind lime-treated maize and other organic materials during food preparation. Similar artifacts are found all over the world, including China. While varying in specific morphology, metates adhere to a common shape, they consist of large stones with a smooth depression or bowl worn into the upper surface. The bowl is formed by the continual and long-term grinding of materials using a smooth hand-held stone; this action consists of a horizontal grinding motion that differs from the vertical crushing motion used in a mortar and pestle. The depth of the bowl varies, though they are not deeper than those of a mortar; the specific angles of the metate body allow for a proficient method of turning grains into flour. Another type of metate called a grinding slab may be found among boulder or exposed bedrock outcroppings; the upper face of the stone is used for grinding materials, such as acorns, that results in the smoothing of the stone's face and the creation of pocked dimples.
Carved, volcanic-stone ceremonial metates represent one of the most unusual and complex traditions of pre-Columbian artifacts from Costa Rica. They come in many different forms, morphological variation corresponds to different regions and time periods, they can be rectangular, flat, or curved. They may not have rims and between three and four legs; some exhibits show signs of use-wear while others show no signs of wear and appear to have been made for use as burial goods. Some examples characterized as metate might have been a type of throne for sitting on – not a metate at all; some examples are known as effigy-headed metate, which feature an animal’s head at one end, with the metate itself making up the body of the creature. Animals depicted are jaguar, crocodile or birds; the most complex type of ceremonial metate is the class referred to as “flying-panel” metate. This style comes from the Atlantic watershed region, including the City of Guayabo and represents a high level of craftsmanship and complexity.
Carved from a single piece of stone, these metates contain multiple figures, both underneath the plate and on the legs. Trophy heads, jaguar and saurian figures are the most common themes; the “flying panel” metate is believed to be the precursor to free standing sculptural figures more common in the Atlantic watershed region. The earliest traditions of stone sculpture in Costa Rica, including ceremonial metate, began in late Period IV. Metate rimless plates; those from the Atlantic Watershed have a plate, horizontally flat and rimmed. Both are associated with mortuary goods, suggesting differential social status existed within these communities; the three main types of Costa Rican stone sculpture at this time—tripod-metate, mace heads and jade “axe-god” pendants—peaked and declined in use during Period V. Stone sculpture was never popular again in the Nicoya/Guanacaste region, but in the Atlantic Watershed by Period VI, freestanding figural sculpture and new forms of ceremonial metate came into use.
These new metate types might be rectangular with four legs like the jaguar effigy-head examples or might be round in shape with a pedestal base. These latter types have carved human heads around the rim implying a relationship with ritual trophy-head taking; this particular form of metate seems to have been influenced by the stone sculptures of the Panamanian site of Barriles. At the site of Las Huacas, fifteen metates were excavated from sixteen graves. None of these metates had manos, suggesting that the carved metate as a mortuary object had a deeper symbolic meaning than just the processing of foodstuffs; the metate's basic mechanical purpose is a platform. This transformation of grain to flour has symbolic implications relating to life and rebirth, it is still not clear if maize was a main source of sustenance, it is possible that maize was reserved for making chicha, for use in ritual feasting activities. Given their role as a burial good, it seems that metate held a strong meaning for human life and the hope for a rebirth or transformation of some kind.
The three most popular iconographic elements of ceremonial metate seem to be saurian and jaguar creatures. Monkeys are common. A unique feature of ceremonial metate is the lack of human figures. Disembodied heads are the sole exception. While human figures become the main subject of the free standing sculptures, which depict nude females or male warriors with trophy heads and bound male captives, these do not seem to have been depicted on metate. Flying-panel metates have anthropomorphic figures, but these always have animal heads. In both the Nicoya and Atlantic-Watershed regions, metates are made with saurian imagery, it is thought that the saurian represents the surface of the earth, which relates to agricultural fertility. One of the oldest and most prominent themes in Chibcha art is that of the Crocodile god. Depicted as an anthropomorphic being with a crocodile head, he has been carved into fly-panel metates, sometimes shown standing on a double-headed saurian and other times on a jaguar.
As a symbol, the do