Incised Stones from Utah's West Desert

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Faculty Mentor

Elizabeth Sutton


A collection of incised stones from Western Utah was recently loaned by amateur collectors to the Utah State University Museum of Anthropology. Incised stones have been recovered from numerous archeological sites across the Great Basin and from all over the world. They represent an enigmatic archaeological artifact type due to their absence in ethnographic and historical literature. Therefore, archaeologists are unsure of their use and function within past societies. This presentation details the results of recent research designed to provide historical, environmental, and cultural context for the collection of twenty incised stones. An overview of the design patterns represented in the collection is discussed along with a comparison of the motifs to those found on other incised stones from the Great Basin region. Three design styles exist for the Great Basin, with the Museum of Anthropology's collection displaying similar designs and characteristics to the Northern Style. The geological context of the stones themselves is also provided with a focus on material type. The geographic location of the sites in which the stones were found along with a spatial analysis of the find locations in relation to other archaeological features is considered in determining their possible use in past human behavioral patterns.

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