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September 17, 2022
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Ashland Public Library

Schiesske Room
66 Front Street

Ashland, MA 01721
Stone Prayers
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Dr. Curtiss Hoffman discusses Stone Prayers: Native American Stone Constructions of the Eastern Seaboard *For Adults

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Ashland resident, Author, Anthropologist, and Archaeologist, Dr. Curtiss Hoffman will share with us the research that led to his book "Stone Prayers: Native American Stone Constructions of the Eastern Seaboard". It is a definitive work on this subject and includes his discovery of native American stone structures in our own Town Forest. His talk offers insights into the lives and practices of native tribes that lived in and around what is today our Town of Ashland.

Scattered throughout the woodlands and fields of the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada are literally tens of thousands of stone monuments. These enigmatic stone constructions have been the subject of debate among archaeologists and antiquarians for the past 75 years. Prominent among the competing hypotheses have been the allegations that all of these structures were built by colonial farmers removing rocks from their fields; or that they were built by pre-Columbian transatlantic voyagers; or that they are the result of natural deposition by glaciers or downslope erosion; or that they were constructed as sacred places by the indigenous peoples of the region. The latter hypothesis has gained significant attention over the past decade, as the result of strong and vocal support from the regional descendant indigenous communities for the preservation of these monuments, called by them “stone prayers”, from encroachment and desecration by development interests. The purpose of this talk is to provide quantitative support for the indigenous construction hypothesis, by providing a framework firmly and explicitly situated in the scientific method to test the four hypotheses above against a robust set of data -- a total of 5,550 sites from the entire region.

Dr. Curtiss Hoffman holds a Ph.D. from Yale University in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (1974), and since 1973 has directed field operations at archaeological sites in southern New England. He is a recently retired Full Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, a position he has held since 1978. He is past president of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society and currently serves as the editor of its Bulletin. He has an abiding interest in cognitive anthropology: the study of the ways in which the members of cultures represent their world-view in the form of material culture.

The talk is an optional prelude to his walk in the Ashland Town Forest at 2:30pm. If you would like to attend that, you can register HERE.

This is an in-person event and we ask that you register so that we know how many chairs to have out. Walk-ins will be welcome, though!

This program brought to the library in collaboration with the Ashland Town Forest Committee and is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library.

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