Boiling Stone

 

            Our friend and primitive skills expert, Scott Jones, has laid out a full set of instructions for bringing 5 liters of 60 degree water to a full boil in 10 minutes with just a few of these steatite slabs, but suffice it to say, it works. The slabs are about ½ inch thick and range in diameter from 8 to 10 inches. The hole averages about 3/8 to ½ inch. Before the invention of pottery, cooking was not done over an open fire, but it was done beside the fire in a small pit. Tabular steatite was the stone of choice because it could endure the quick expansion and contraction of extreme temperatures. The hole is provided to remove the stone slabs from the fire and from the hot liquids being cooked. Each slab was smoothed with sandstone like the one pictured below from a site along the Ogeechee Rover. One side has a broad, smooth curved surface for finishing the flat portion of the slab while the wide grooves were the result of smoothing the rounded edges of the slabs.

 

 BoilingStones John Williams

The illustrations above are from the Collection of Mr. Johnny Williams.

The stone slab industry along the Savannah River at Stallings Island and at several locations along the Ogeechee River in Georgia began some time prior to the invention of fiber-tempered pottery, about 5000 years B.P. These sites are littered with drills for making slabs, broken slabs themselves, sherds of fiber-tempered pottery, and not much else. The industry ended shortly after people realized that clay pots tempered with sand or other non-organic materials could be placed directly into a fire.