Arts of the Americas
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, The Americas’ First Peoples, 4000 B.C.E.–1521 C.E.
Bird Stones: A Mystery
Bird stones have been found from Nova Scotia down along the Eastern Seaboard and as far west as the Mississippi River. There are many theories about their function. Were they charms associated with religion? Were they fastened to clothing to indicate status or stage of life? Were they ancient game pieces or handles for a spear thrower (atlatl)? All bird stones are carved from exceptional types of hard stone, and the quantity of surviving examples indicates that they were quite popular.
2 1/16 x 1 1/4 x 3 5/16 in. (5.3 x 3.2 x 8.4 cm) (show scale)
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Hopewell (Native American). Bird Stone, 1500-500 B.C.E. Stone, 2 1/16 x 1 1/4 x 3 5/16 in. (5.3 x 3.2 x 8.4 cm). Private Collection, L49.3.3. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, L49.3.3_transp5621.jpg)
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