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The mission of the San Mateo County Historical Association is to inspire wonder and discovery
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Object Record

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Catalog Number 0000.256.003
Description Stone Mortar, pre-1769-1786. Stone mortar is oval in shape with a fairly deep oval depression in the top. Back side is higher than the front and the depression goes about half way down the length of the front side. Back has a crack extending from the top edge to about half way down while a similar crack extends down the center front all the way to the back of the base. Stone is probably granite and is mostly brown in color.
Object Name Mortar, Food
Collection 3D - Food Processing & Prep Tools & Equipment
Title Stone Mortar, pre-1769-1786
Date pre-1769-1786
Inscription Text none
Provenance Archaeological Material
Notes "Acorns were the primary staple of the Ohlone people. Gathering was a community effort in the fall since a great quantity had to be gathered to last throughout the year. Women sorted the acorns for quality. An acorn with slightest bug infestation was discarded since good acorns could be stored safely for many months as evidenced by the storage silos built by all acorn processing peoples in California.

"Acorns were prepared each and every day for the family's consumption. As with any nut, the first step was cracking the acorn and extracting the meat. The nuts were then "pounded" in a mortar with a pestle often using the bottomless hopper baskets to prevent loss of meal during pounding. The meal was ground or pounded to a proper consistency prior to leaching and cooking."
[ 8/18/2015]

"The Ohlone subsisted mainly as hunter-gatherers and in some ways harvesters. "A rough husbandry of the land was practiced, mainly by annually setting of fires to burn-off the old growth in order to get a better yield of seeds – or so the Ohlone told early explorers in San Mateo County." Their staple diet consisted of crushed acorns, nuts, grass seeds, and berries, although other vegetation, hunted and trapped game, fish and seafood (including mussels and abalone from the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean), were also important to their diet."
[ 8/18/2015]

"A Pestle and mortar is a device used since ancient times to prepare ingredients or substances by crushing and grinding them into a fine paste or powder. The mortar is a bowl, typically made of hard wood, ceramic or stone. The pestle is a heavy club-shaped object, the end of which is used for crushing and grinding. The substance to be ground is placed in the mortar and ground, crushed or mixed using the pestle."
[ 8/18/2015]
Dimensions H-8 W-11 D-9.5 inches
Search Terms Ohlone
Archaeological Material
Mortar and Pestles
Subjects Food preparation
People Ohlone Indians