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Albani stone
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A pepper-colored stone used in ancient Roman buildings before the introduction of marble. The stone may have come from two volcanic craters which formed the modern Lake Albano, southeast of Rome.
Bouffioulx stoneware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The Bouffioulx region has been producing ceramics for almost 500 years. Many artists contributed to the revival of the Bouffioulx genre in the first part of the 20th century when producing hand thrown stoneware art works known today as the "Grès d'art" of Bouffioulx.
Buddhagupta stone
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A Sanskrit language inscription of c 5th century AD in western Malaysia, due to trade by Buddhists of Southeast Asia. Related inscriptions have been found in Borneo and Brunei.
Calendar Stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A 20-ton, 4-meter wide carved monolith commissioned by the emperor Axayacatl in 1479, which symbolizes the Aztec universe. The populations of central Mexico believed that they were living in the fifth epoch of a series of worlds (or suns) marked by cyclical generation and destruction. The central figure of the stone is this fifth sun, Tonatuih. Surrounding this are four rectangular cartouches containing dates and symbols for the gods Ehecatl, Texcatlipoca, Tlaloc and Chilchihuitlicue who represent the four worlds previously destroyed and the dates of the previous holocausts - 4 Tiger, 4 Wind, 4 Rain, and 4 Water. The central panel contains the date 4 Ollin (movement) on which the Aztecs showed that they anticipated that their current world would be destroyed by an earthquake. In a series of increasingly larger concentric bands, symbols for the 20 days of the month, precious materials, and certain stars are represented. The outermost band depicts two massive serpents whose heads meet at the stone's base. The Calendar Stone is in the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology) in Mexico City.
Earlier Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The first stage of the Stone Age in sub-Saharan Africa, dating from more than 2.5 million years ago to c 150,000 years ago. The earliest artifacts are representative of the Oldowan Industrial Complex, which was succeeded by the Acheulian Industrial Complex between c 1.5 million-150,000 years ago.
Early Later Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: An informal designation for the microlithic late Pleistocene Stone Age industry of some sites in South Africa. One such site is Border Cave, characterized by small backed pieces, bone points, ostrich eggshell beads, and incised bone and wood.
Ironstone china
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A hard heavy durable white pottery developed in England early in the 19th century
Kensington Stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A stone slab found on a Minnesota farm in 1898 with an inscription in runes purporting to record the arrival of a party of exploring Vikings. An object of controversy from the start, it is now dismissed as a forgery, despite recent confirmation of the Viking visits to the eastern American coast. This supposed relic of a 14th-century Scandinavian exploration of the interior of North America is a 200-pound slab of graywacke inscribed with runes (medieval Germanic script). The inscription, dated 1362, is purported to be by a group of Norwegian and Swedish explorers from Vinland who visited the Great Lakes area in that year. The stone is housed in a special museum in Alexandria, Minn., and a 26-ton replica stands in nearby Runestone Park.
Later Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The third and final phase of Stone Age technology in sub-Saharan Africa, dating from about 30,000+ years ago until historical times in some places. There was much art and personal decoration, evidence of burials, and in assemblages some microlithic stone tools. Pottery and stone bowls appear during the last three millennia as the lifeways changed to herding from nomadic hunting and gathering. The large number of distinctive Later Stone Age industries that emerged reflect increasing specialization as hunter-gatherers exploited different environments, often moving seasonally between them, and developed different subsistence strategies. As in many parts of the world, changes in technology seem to mark a shift to the consumption of smaller game, fish, invertebrates, and plants. Later Stone Age peoples used bows and arrows and a variety of snares and traps for hunting, as well as grindstones and digging sticks for gathering plant food; with hooks, barbed spears, and wicker baskets they also were able to catch fish and thus exploit rivers, lakeshores, and seacoasts more effectively. The appearance of cave art, careful burials, and ostrich eggshell beads for adornments suggests more sophisticated behavior and new patterns of culture. These developments apparently are associated with the emergence between 20,000 and 15,000 BC of the earliest of the historically recognizable populations of southern Africa: the Pygmy, San, and Khoi peoples, who were probably genetically related to the ancient population that had evolved in the African subcontinent.
Middle Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The second part of the Stone Age in sub-Saharan Africa, dating from c 150,000-30,000 years ago and roughly equivalent to the Middle Palaeolithic elsewhere in the Old World. Assemblages are characterized by flakes made by preparing the core; there were many shapes and sizes of these artifacts. The characteristic tools are made on flakes produced by a developed Levalloisian technique, including slender unifacial and bifacial lances or spear points for stabbing or throwing. In the final stages of the Middle Stone Age, known as the South African Magosian, microlithic elements appear. Middle Stone Age assemblages are associated with anatomically modern Homo sapiens in southern Africa. People continued to live in open camps, while rock overhangs also were used for shelter. Middle Stone Age bands hunted medium-size and large prey. Sometimes they collected tortoises and ostrich eggs in large quantities, as well as seabirds and marine mammals that could be found along the shore. The rich archaeological deposits of Klasies River Mouth Cave preserve the earliest evidence in the world for the use of shellfish as a food source.
Palermo Stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A slab of black basalt bearing a record of the first five Egyptian dynasties (Old Kingdom), compiled in the 5th dynasty, c 2400 BC. It is one of the basic sources of information about the chronology and cultural history of Egypt during the first five dynasties (c 2925-c. 2325 BC). Named for the Sicilian city in which one slab is stored, the diorite stela is one of six existing fragments that probably originally stood in Egyptian temples; other slabs are now in London and Cairo. It is inscribed on both sides with horizontal lines of hieroglyphic text, the top row listing the names of predynastic rulers. The following rows, each headed by the name of a different king, are divided into compartments, each compartment signifying one year. Within the compartments the hieroglyphs always list one or more memorable events of that year. Thus the original monument was apparently a year-by-year record of all the kings from the 1st-5th dynasty, although the last name preserved on the stone is that of Neferirkare, the third of the nine kings of the 5th dynasty.
Pictish symbol stones
CATEGORY: language; artifact
DEFINITION: Pictish symbol stones are a unique class of sculptured monument of the Pictish people in the Post-Roman period. The Picts occupied Scotland north of the Forth and possessed a distinctive culture, seen particularly in their carved symbol stones. The stones are roughly divided into three chronological categories. The Class I stones (5th-7th century) are rough-hewn, undressed blocks or pillars, inscribed with pictorial symbols of spiral creatures, such as fishes and birds. They are also decorated with strange geometric shapes as well as inanimate objects like mirrors and combs, grouped together in various combinations. Class II (8th-10th century) stones are regularly dressed slabs which the same range of carvings but with the addition of new Christian elements and humans in animated scenes. Class III stones (from 9th century) are, in most cases, free-standing crosses decorated with a combination of a distinctive form of interlace as well as some elements of the older motifs. Some bear Ogham inscriptions from which it has recently been shown that three languages were in use, two Celtic and one pre-Indo-European. From these memorial stones, we know something of the Pictish royal succession.
Rosetta Stone
CATEGORY: language; artifact
DEFINITION: A basalt stela discovered at Rosetta, at the western mouth of the Nile, during Napoleon's occupation of Egypt, in 1799. This trilingual inscription on stone, a decree of King Ptolemy V (196 BC), was carved in Greek, Egyptian Demotic, and Egyptian hieroglyphic. It provided Jean-François Champollion with the key to the decipherment of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, thus paving the way to modern Egyptology. The Rosetta Stone is now in the British Museum.
Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The oldest and longest division of the Three-Age System, preceding the Bronze Age and Iron Age, the oldest known period of human culture - characterized by the use of stone tools. This prehistoric age embraces the Paleolithic (Old), Mesolithic (Middle), and Neolithic (New). These three separate periods are based on the degree of sophistication in the fashioning and use of tools. Metals were unknown, but tools and weapons were also made of wood, bone, and antler. The dates for the Stone Age vary considerably from one region to another, and some communities were still living a Stone Age life until very recent time. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Stone Age is equivalent to the term Palaeolithic, and spans c 2.5 mya until the 19th century AD.
DEFINITION: Ancient monument on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, the remains of four massive trilithons surrounded by concentric circles of megaliths, probably constructed since c 3200 BC. It was a major Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ritual monument, architecturally unique, surrounded by a whole complex of barrow cemeteries and ritual sites. It had many phases of reconstruction. Apart from a cursus, the oldest structure was a circular earthwork about 100 meters in diameter, consisting of a ditch with an inner bank broken by a single entrance. Just inside the bank was a ring of 56 Aubrey holes (pits), some of which contained cremations. There were further cremations in the ditch and on the inner plateau. The presence of grooved ware pottery, together with radiocarbon dates from a cremation suggest that Stonehenge I belongs to the end of the Neolithic. Phase II occurred in c 2200-2000 when two concentric rings of sockets were dug at the center of the site for the erection of 80 bluestones imported from the Preseli Hills of southwest Wales. To this period belongs the Avenue, two parallel banks and ditches which run from the entrance to the river Avon 3 km away. In Stonehenge's third phase, the bluestones were removed, and Sarsen stones, some weighing over 50 tons, were brought from the Downs 38 km away to the north. These blocks, unlike those of any other henge or megalithic tomb, were dressed to shape before erection, and were then set up as a circle of uprights with a continuous curving lintel, enclosing a U-shaped arrangement of five trilithons. This phase has been dated 2120 +/- 150 BC and its work was carried out by the bearers of the Wessex culture. At a later stage (phase IIIc) the bluestones were re-erected in their present positions, duplicating the sarsen structure. There is a radiocarbon date of 1540 +/- 105 BC for the early part of this final stage, and the whole of Stonehenge III probably falls within the Early Bronze Age. The final stage came in the Middle or Late Bronze Age when the Avenue was extended 2000 meters east. The function of the monument is usually held to be religious, though it had no connection with the Druids. Theories are that the northeast-southwest axis may suggest some form of sun cult, the stone settings may have been used for astronomical observations in connection with the calendar, and the Aubrey holes for calculating the occurrence of eclipses. It has also been interpreted as the temple of a sun or sky cult. Archaeologists have long been fascinated by this monument, with its evidence of massive manpower input (one calculation suggests 30 million man-hours would have been required for the phase IIIA structure), its architectural sophistication, and astronomical alignments.
anvil stone
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A stone on which other stones or materials (such as food) are placed and crushed with a stone tool.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: banner stone, birdstone, boatstone
CATEGORY: artifact; lithics
DEFINITION: A stone atlatl - a throwing-stick weight - put on the shaft to give great propulsion to a thrown dart. The stone is perforated for hafting and often has a bipennate, 'butterfly', or banner-like appearance.
basal stones
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: The lowest stones in the continuous face of a wall.
benben stone
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A cult object made of stone, found at sites such as for the sun god Re at Heliopolis. The sacred stone symbolized the Primeval Mound and perhaps also the petrified semen of the deity. It served as the earliest prototype for the obelisk and possibly even the pyramid. It was probably constructed in the early Old Kingdom, c 2600 BC.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: bird-stone, bannerstone, boatstone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A class of prehistoric stone objects of undetermined purpose, usually resembling or shaped line a bird; carved bird effigies. These polished stone weights occurred in the cultures of the Archaic tradition (8000-1000 BC) and later cultures in the Eastern Woodlands of North America. They were probably attached to throwing sticks or atlatls to add weight and leverage.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A type of bluish-gray combination of dolerite, rhyolite, and volcanic stone used in the second phase of building Stonehenge. The source seems to be the Preseli Hills of South Wales, 215 km away.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: (see bannerstone, birdstone)
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A boat-shaped stone atlatl - a throwing-stick weight - put on the shaft to give great propulsion to a thrown dart. Unlike the bannerstone, it was apparently lashed to the stick shaft.
bolas stone
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: bolas, bola; pl. bolases
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Weighted balls of stone, bone, ivory, or ceramic that are either grooved or pierced for fastening to rawhide thongs and used to hunt prey. The bolas, still found today among some of the peoples of South America and among the Eskimo, usually consists of two or more globular or pear-shaped stones attached to each other long thongs. They are whirled and thrown at running game, with the thongs wrapping themselves around the limbs of the animal or bird on contact. Bolas stones have been found in many archaeological sites throughout the world, including Africa in Middle and Upper Acheulian strata.
bored stone
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A rounded stone of various sizes with a bored hole in the middle, found in central and southern Africa and dating back 40,000 years. Some were used as weights on digging sticks.
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A stone slab placed horizontally over a series of other stones, at the top of an arch, often as a roof. Some are large blocks used to span the walls of dolmens, cists, passage graves, and other megalithic chamber tombs.
carved stone ball
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Roughly spherical or slightly lobate artificially shaped carved stones dating to the later Neolithic and found only in Scotland. Where decorated, the motifs used are similar to those in MEGALITHIC ART. Unornamented stone balls are, however, found in other areas of the British Isles in 4th and 3rd millennia BC contexts.
chipped stone tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any tool produced by flaking or chipping of pieces from a stone core to produce an implement.
cooking stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any stone heated for a long time or several times by being placed in water or stew in order to convey heat to the water or stew; also, cooking balls may have been laid on top of red-hot coals and then meat laid on top of the balls to cook
curling stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A heavy piece of shaped granite used in the Scottish game of curling.
cushion stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flat-faced smooth stone used as a small anvil in metalworking. The earliest cushion stones from northern Europe are those from Beaker graves
dressed stone
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A building stone that has been shaped - either by flaking, pecking, groove-and-snapping, or grinding.
edge-ground stone tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A tool classification of Pleistocene northern Australia and New Guinea and Southeast Asia comprised of hatchets, flakes, and other tools. Important sites include Nawamoyn, Malangangerr, Arnhem Land, Cape York, New Guinea Highlands. Edge-ground tools do not appear until the late Holocene elsewhere in Australia; they are completely absent from Tasmania. In Southeast Asia, it comprises flaked stone tools which are sharpened by grinding or polishing the cutting edge only. They existed in the Bacsonian and Hoabhinian periods.
flaked stone
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: chipped stone, flaked stone tool, flaked stone artifacts
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any object made by one of the various percussion or pressure techniques of stone tool technology. Tools produced by the removal of flakes (or chips, commonly referred to as debitage) from the stone to create a sharp surface. Projectile points, bifaces, unifaces, and cores are common flaked stone artifact types.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A precious or semi precious stone used within jewelry.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A stone placed over or at the head or foot of a grave, or at the entrance to a tomb.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A loosely applied term for a variety of metamorphosed basic igneous rocks of a green color: serpentine, olivine, jade, jadeite, nephrite, chloromelanite, etc. The general term is useful, though, since ancient man used these materials interchangeably, mainly for high quality or ceremonial polished stone axes, figures, and other objects. Jade was particularly popular in China and Middle America, considered to have magical properties. Greenstone was important in southeastern Australia and in New Zealand. The green color comes from the minerals chlorite, hornblende, or epidote.
grinding stone
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any lithic (stone) artifact used to process plant for food, medicines, cosmetics, or pigments. The grinding was done on a flat or concave surface.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A revolving stone used to sharpen or polish by grinding.
ground stone tool
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: ground stone, polished tool, ground-stone artifact, groundstone
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A class of lithic (stone) artifacts produced by abrasion - grinding or pecking - and formed into a tool or vessel. Granite, pumice, and steatite fall into this class. Manos, metates, mortars, and pestles are common ground stone artifacts. Ground stone tools used to crush, pound, grind, or otherwise process materials are also commonly referred to as milling implements.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A hard stone used as a hammer during the knapping of flint and other stone, for processing food, breaking up shells or bones, etc.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A handheld milling stone used to process materials on a metate.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A hard sedimentary rock rich in iron, especially a siderite in a coal region. This ore of iron, commonly a carbonate, has clayey impurities. Ironstone china is a hard heavy durable white pottery developed in England early in the 19th century.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Roman road markers - cylindrical blocks of stone usually about 6 ft (1.8 m) high - recording the distance from a central point within the province or a local center. These were placed along all principal roads, and instances are found from about 250 BC onwards. The stone was typically inscribed to give the distance in (Roman) miles to the nearest major town, and commonly a date of installation, expressed in terms of Republican magistracies, or the years of an Emperor's reign. They often bore the title of the emperor or consults under whose direction the road was laid out or repaired.
milling stone
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: grinding stone; metate
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Any stone slab or basin that is used to process seeds, nuts, and other such foods by rubbing, grinding, or pounding them against this object with another stone.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Large circular slab of coarse rock up to 1m in diameter and typically 0.2-0.3m thick used for grinding grain in a mill. One face is roughened by means of a pattern of lines cut into the surface while the other face may be slightly domed. Millstones were used in pairs (an upper and lower stone), a central hole in each taking the spindle that keeps them concentric and in the case of the upper stone attaches to the power source that turns it.
palmate stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A large spatulate stone object about 2 ft (61 cm) long, shaped like a hand with extended fingers, believed to be a ceremonial representation of a device worn by ballgame players in Mesoamerica and dating to the Classic Period. It rested on a yoke which fitted around the waist and projected upward to protect the chest. Probably of wood or leather with carving on both sides, they may have been trophies, religious symbols, or for burial purposes. The center for these puzzling stone carvings seems to be the coastal Veracruz area.
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A term used to describe the unique series of engraved memorial stones (bildstenar) that were raised on the Baltic island of Gotland (off Sweden) between the 5th-11th centuries AD. The Kylver Stone, found in a Gotland tomb, is limestone slab that bears a 5th-century runic inscription and provides the oldest extant record of the Germanic runic series.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any soft stone used in the manufacture of aboriginal smoking pipes
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Any of various volcanic glasses distinguished by their dull pitchlike luster
polished stone adze
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A chopping or cutting tool, beveled on one side and characteristic of the Neolithic in Southeast Asia. It appeared as early as 6000 BC in some places and continued in use into the 1st millennium AD in places with little metal. There were generally flaked to shape from a large core, then ground and polished. Traded forms were roughed-out blanks that would be polished later. The form was a simple quadrangle. By the Late Neolithic a decrease in the proportion of stone axes to adzes suggests the increasing dominance of permanent agriculture.
pounding stone
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A hard stone used to pound stone, similar to hammerstone
rune stone
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: runestone, rune-stone
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A freestanding memorial stone with an inscription in runes, developed by Germanic peoples around the 4th century AD. Rune stones from the Viking period are found throughout Scandinavia.
salt-glazed stoneware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: In the 14th century AD it was found that the addition of salt to the kiln gases during the firing of stoneware meant that the salt volatilized and the resultant sodium chloride vapor fluxed with the silicas in the body of the vessels to form a soda-glass glaze. As a further refinement, a brown-colored surface could be achieved by coating the vessels in a thin iron wash before firing. A patent was granted for the manufacture of such salt-glazed wares in England in 1671.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Sedimentary rock consisting of sand or quartz grains cemented together, typically red, yellow, or brown in color.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A rare stone artifact with several incised lines of indentations on one edge where sinew material was drawn across it to prepare the material for use as bow string, thread, or string
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: Dark gray or green soft soapy compact variety of talc that is easy to carve.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A concretion of mineral matter, one of the first materials to be used for making artifacts. Very fine grained or glassy stones, such as flint and obsidian, were shaped mainly by chipping or flaking. Other less brittle stones had to be hammered or chiseled into shape, and then polished. Precious and decorative stones were also widely used in antiquity. Petrological analysis of stone has allowed the source materials to be discovered.
stone boiling
CATEGORY: technique
DEFINITION: The process of heating stones in a fire and then putting them in containers to boil water or cook foods. This type of cooking was often done in baskets or containers that cannot be placed directly in or over a fire.
stone circle
CATEGORY: feature; structure
DEFINITION: A ring of standing stones, either circular or near-circular, found in the British Isles from the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. There are almost 1000 stone circles, some surrounded by a ditch, with the most famous examples being Stonehenge, Avebury, and Callanish. Two atypical examples are in Brittany. The standing stones which make up these circles are widely spaced; in many examples they are incorporated into a ring-bank of smaller piled stones which has one opening as the entrance. A local variant is the recumbent stone circle of Aberdeenshire in which the entrance is marked by a large horizontal stone flanked by tall portal stones. A recumbent stone is also a feature of circles in southwest Ireland, but here the two tallest stones are placed diametrically opposite the horizontal stone. Two of the Scottish recumbent stone circles have yielded Beaker pottery, while urn burials in various 'standard' circles were of Bronze Age type. Circles are often associated with cairns, menhirs, and alignments. Many have tried to interpret the complex geometric layouts and placement of the stones within an astronomical base. There has been much discussion about the validity of various theories and there is no agreement on the subject.
stone line
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A subsurface sheet of stones one layer thick within a soil which appears as a line parallel to the soil surface. Stone lines of geologic origin may contribute to the formation of ferruginous horizons; they may contain archaeological debris. The interpretation of archaeological debris within a stone line context depends on proper interpretation of the origin of the stone line.
stone setting
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A setting of stones marking out a grave, known in various shapes, including ships.
stone tool
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A tool made of stone, either ground stone or chipped stone; a lithic artifact.
stone zone
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A subsurface bed of stones or stone material within a soil that is larger than one layer thick; they may contain archaeological debris. Similar to stone lines, the origin of a stone zone is necessary for interpretation of the archaeological debris within this context.
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Distinctive pottery that has been fired at a high temperature (about 1,200 C / 2,200 F) until glasslike and impervious to liquid). Usually opaque, but mainly because it is nonporous, it does not require a glaze. When a glaze is used, it is decorative only. Stoneware originated in China as early as 1400 BC (Shang dynasty). The technique made possible the production of durable tablewares.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A stone placed across a grave.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A stone used to test how genuine an object is by rubbing the object against the stone, particularly used for testing gold and silver.
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: A fine-grained hone stone used to sharpen other tools and for giving a smooth edge to cutting tools after grinding.

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