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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Portable Religious Stone Features from a Ceremonial Complex on San Nicolas Island, California


Two caches of balancing rock features were recently uncovered during archaeological excavations at the Tule Creek site (CA-SNI-25) on San Nicolas Island, California. The features consist of groups of stacked rocks in association with cut red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) shell, ochre, and asphaltum. Feature 1 is made up of a serpentinite disc base and a basalt mid-section overlain by an inverted sandstone bowl. Feature 2 consists of a phallic sandstone pestle capped by a pecked pyramidal granitic top. Radiocarbon dates on associated marine shell suggest the cairns were buried during the fourteenth and fteenth centuries A.D., before the arrival of European immigrants into the region

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