10 July 2011

Grave goods pebbles producing light, sparkling, powder found in arch “crown” formation over head of Ohio Hopewell Culture female burial

Ohio Hopewell Culture burial pebbles.  John C. Rummel excavation, near Miamisburg, Ohio, Clairmont County.  In situ, the pebbles formed a crown shape over the skull of the burial.
Archaeologist and Hopewell Culture scholar John C. Rummel identified six pebbles placed as grave goods in a semi-circular, arch or crown, formation on the flat plane of the body over a female Hopewell burial he excavated near Miamisburg, Ohio, in Clairmont County.  John was kind enough to allow me inspect and photograph the six stones.  My most significant observation about them was they left a light yellow, powdery residue on my fingers which contained very small sparkling inclusions.  As one’s angle of vision changes, on the rocks or on the skin after handling them, the sparkles throw reflections and change as if twinkling.  After I shared this with John, he noted the Hopewell seem to significate darkness with underworld and lightness with the upper world.  It made me wonder if the pebbles could have used in mortuary practices to lighten the skin after death, like glitter make-up, which is done by various cultures even today.  They could then have accompanied the burial as a link to the upper world in the form of a powdery, sparking crown of pebbles. 






Rough illustration of the position of the six pebbles as found in situ with the burial.  Hopewell Culture burials were so carefully orchestrated it seems likely there was a significance given to the pebbles and to the placement in a crown formation over the head of the deceased woman.
Here is a link to more information about the Ohio Hopewell tradition:

Hopewell Culture National Park near Chillicothe, Ohio

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