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Mourning, Curing, Feasting or Industry? The Interpretation of the Quinte and Perch Lake Mounds

Ontario Archaeology, No. 72, 2001
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The Middle Woodland burnt stone mounds of Prince Edward County, Ontario, and Jefferson County, New York, form an unsual class of monuments that have defied satisfactory interpretation. They have been identified variously as “burial mounts,” “hut rings,” “sweat lodges” and the remains of “fire riturals.” Some of this confusion may be attributed to the fact that few of these site have been examined in great detail. More important, however is the manner in which these interpretations have been formulated as they have tended to rely on superficial similarities with other feature types and poorly developed analogy. Through consideration of sites that more closely resemble the burnt stone mounds of the eastern Lake Ontario basin, it is suggested that these mounds are more likely to be the remains of seasonally occupied large-scale cooking or food processing sites, although it is possible that in some cases they also acquired symbolic significance within the subsistence-settlement systems of local communities.


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