Charity M. Moore and Matthew Victor Weiss

Abstract

Rock piles are some of the most ambiguous features encountered in the Upper Ohio Valley, encompassing diverse origins and functions. A single pile can appear to be consistent with multiple interpretations and each interpretation carries implications for how the rock pile is then recorded (or not recorded) and evaluated against the National Register of Historic Places criteria. Building on recent fieldwork at the Bear Knob Rock Piles (46UP342), this article explores historical sources, regional case studies, and archaeological methods that can be used to examine rock features, and calls for the adoption of similar best practices and guidelines at the federal and state levels. Only through a comprehensive, programmatic approach, informed by indigenous knowledge, can archaeologists overcome the ambiguity of rock piles and expand their understanding of the ways people augment and interact with the landscape through the construction of rock features and the material affordances of stone.

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