The Provenance and Use of Etowah Palettes

TitleThe Provenance and Use of Etowah Palettes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSteponaitis, VP, Swanson, SE, Wheeler, G, Drooker, PB
JournalAmerican Antiquity
KeywordsArchaeology, Etowah, ritual, Stone tablets

Based on geological and stylistic evidence, we argue that stone palettes found at Etowah were made locally from nearby raw materials. We also show that they were wrapped in textiles and kept in bundles, i.e., that they were objects used in ritual. Etowah palettes were used as portable altars, perhaps in ceremonies that involved anointing other objects with colorful (and spiritually powerful) substances. The realization that palettes were bundled ritual gear should cause us to rethink common assumptions that such objects moved from site to site by means of "trade," or that they functioned as "prestige goods" in the sense of Frankenstein and Rowlands (1978).