Milling, Mortars, and Pestles


The Chumash had many needs for milling.  The use of milling can be tracked back to the earliest historical sites 8,500 to 13,000 years ago during the Paleo-Indian Period.  Large boulders by rivers, lakes and oceans can be viewed today with smoothed cup-shaped burrows made from grinding tools.  In these days, the early native Americans would grind seeds and sage to create foods and medicines.

Although food supplies were very similar, by the next era, Chumash were figuring out how to bring mortars and pestles with them.  Smaller, flat portable stones were carried with them and another stone was used to grind.  These continued to improve.

By the time of the Oak Grove Era the foods were changing in locations.  Oak trees produced many acorns, but the tannic acids made them very poisonous.  The Chumash, probably through a great deal of effort, discovered how to prepare these Oak Seeds.

During the Middle Period the Chumash became fabulous stone carvers.  Using Steatite, a type of Soapstone, they began creating ingenious milling systems.  They made excellent round bowls and pestles for crushing the softer acorns and seeds.


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