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The Science of Stone Prayers: Empirical Approaches Compliment Indigenous Narrative

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Revised 2/2/22

This series presents examples from the body of scientific research on Native American stone prayers, and the distribution of these groupings known as ceremonial stone landscapes. Early reports on Indigenous stone works that feature in the surficial archaeology of our landscape noted correlations between groupings of stone across much of the Eastern United States.

In compliment with traditional Indigenous narrative about ceremonial places and historical accounts of stone prayers, this series presents empirical approaches to investigation of these structures and landscapes.

[See Below: Report by James Gage and Mary Gage - Radiocarbon (C-14), Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), and Archaeological Dated Native American (Indigenous) Stone Structures in Northeastern United States]

The clustering, intentional forms, and striking difference from stone works familiar to Europeans were also noted in state archaeological bulletins, while their connection to Indigenous ceremonial life was hinted at by correlations to known ceremonial stone features across the United States as well as by historical accounts of Indigenous sacred stone features.

Image of stone construction near Chaubunnagungamaug, Massachusetts

(Dudek, Martin G. 2020)

More recent study applied analytical methods used in archaeology to test our hypotheses about the origins of these stone constructions. Three methodologies giving examples of protocols that meet standards used internationally give strong basis reconfirming identification of sacred stone places by Indigenous people of the region: 1. Analysis of component stone out-of-ground exposure time by optically stimulated luminescence; 2. Statistical analysis and comparison of large-scale site data alongside cartographic and related positional data; 3. Analysis and comparison of cultural correlation and non-correlation of features between candidate cultures, both independent data analysis and as corroborated by Indigenous self-narrative, historical records and other documents.

We offer here the first installment of this series by researchers James Gage and Mary Gage (excerpted, full report below):

Radiocarbon (C-14), Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), and Archaeological Dated Native American (Indigenous) Stone Structures in Northeastern United States


"This is a compilation of all known Native American stone structures (both utilitarian and ceremonial) in the northeastern United States that have been dated through radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence, or other archaeological dating method. The findings are summarized in the chronology chart. Each dated structure was evaluated and a reliability score (good, fair, or poor) was assigned to it. A more detail synopsis of the context of the date can be found in the description for each site. This report demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Native American peoples in the northeast had the skills to build a range of different types of stone structures."

>>> This report details sites around the Northeast. Read the full report here:

Dated-Indigenous-Stone-Structures (3)
Download PDF • 1.25MB

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