Curator of Natural History Dave Dyer and I recently went to Tarlton Cross Mound at the request of folks from Fairfield County Historical Parks. Someone had found a peculiar stone in the creek bed near the mound and even though Cross Mound Park is no longer one of the Ohio History Connection’s sites, we are still responsible for the archaeology at the site. I’m reasonably convinced the stone is entirely the result of natural weathering and erosion, but it looks so much like a carved tablet that Dave and I thought we would share images of the stone to see if anyone out there had seen anything like it and could help us and Fairfield County Historical Parks solve the mystery. Here is what Dave wrote in his Ohio History Connection Natural History Blog post:

Roughly rectangular sandstone slab with parallel ridges along the edges. Is it an early historic or even prehistoric carving? Or is it just an odd product of natural weathering and erosion?

Its a rectangular piece of sandstone that was found in a stream near the Tarlton Cross Mound site in southwestern Fairfield Co. Another large stone found near this one we recognized as a natural piece of the sandstone bedrock, however we arent as certain about this one. The edges seem to be natural; there are no tool marks, etc. to indicate that it was intentionally cut to be this shape. However the flat surface shows an unusual pattern and is less definitive. Can this be due to normal weathering? Would the iron present in the sandstone be more resistant during weathering and create this pattern of grooves around the perimeter of the stone? Or could this pattern be due to quarrying of the stone or maybe its use in historic construction? However there are no known quarrying operations, historic foundations, or cemeteries near this site. Natural weathering creates an infinite number of patterns and shapes in rocks, thus we dont want to anoint this piece as a human-created unless we have definitive evidence. Weve also sent these photos to geologists who are familiar with sandstone and to archaeologists for their opinions. What do you think? Ever seen something like this!? By the way, if youre looking for great places to visit this fall to enjoy the outdoors and beautiful fall leaves, Tarlton Cross Mound and Wahkeena Nature Preserve are both located south of Lancaster in Fairfield County. They are close to Columbus and would make a great day trip!

Oblique view of sandstone slab showing the possible carved border elements in high relief. Also note the variable concentrations of iron visible in the cross-section of the slab, which, in my view, is likely what produced the ridges.

Post a comment here or on Dave’s blog post if you have an opinion about this odd rock. Is it natural or is it some kind of 19th century folk art? Brad Lepper

Posted October 10, 2014
Topics: Archaeology

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