Ancient Tools & Technology

What is a tool? Who made it? How was it made? What was it used for? What is technology? The Ancient Tools and Technology exhibit explores these questions through the display of objects from the Museum’s collection. The exhibit features a tactile section where visitors are encouraged to interact with various displays. This exhibit consists of four parts: stone tools, bone tools, pottery, and weaving.

A tool is defined as “a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task.” Many species of animals make and use tools, but in this exhibit we look at tools that were made and used by both ancient and modern humans. Tools have many different uses and you will see throughout the exhibit several different types of tools. Technology is defined as “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area” or “a capability given the practical application of knowledge.” When we hear the word technology today, our minds automatically go to things like computers and cell phones, but technology can be something as simple as the tools that are seen in this exhibit. The trial and error of toolmaking by our ancestors led us to have tools and evolve these tools into what they are today.

The stone tools section features a variety of different stone tools. The section includes an ax, large spear points, small projectile points, a scraper, mano, sinker stones, fish hooks, a spokeshave, a beveler, hammerstone, pestle, and a maul. This section also offers information on flintknapping and shows what was in a flintknappers kit.

The bone tools section features faunal remains, a bone awl, and some unidentified bone tools. Bone was commonly used in early tool making. This section also features a poster showing how a deer’s bones would be used to make different tools.

The pottery section features pottery made by three of the major ancient tribes of the Southwest: the Hohokam, Ancestral Pueblo, and Mogollon. Each of these groups had their own styles, but essentially created their pottery in the same way. Coil vessels that were fired in a pit fire. This section also features more modern pottery from Zuni, Hopi, and Acoma. This section also features a few tools that were used in helping to make pottery.

The weaving section features two rugs that were made around 1900 and two more modern rugs made in the 1950s and 1970s. This section also has the tools used to make yarn, i.e. spindle. It also has the tools used to weave, i.e. beater, comb, wool yarn, and loom. This section explores both Navajo and Pueblo weaving traditions.