charm stones, talisman, and amulets

William H. Mook, Jr. (
3 Oct 1995 04:18:32 GMT

I am conducting research on "charm stones" found in primitive cultures
throughout the world. Especially pertinent here are those made of stone
in either fish, phallic, or anthropomorphic forms. I have compiled an
extensive bibliography that is available upon request. Any relevant
information from Siberia/Russian Plain; the Far East; Africa; and Island
Cultures is greatly appreciated.

A phallic charmstone site in Central California:

Phallic, fish, and anthropomorphic stone objects have been recovered
from an unusually high number of archaeological sites on each of the
continents. Particularly interesting is the fact that many of these
occurrences happen in shell mound cultures that rely heavily on fishing
or mollusk taking as a primary sustenance focus. I urge fellow
colleagues to compare Poverty Point (Ford and Webb 1956); Central
California (Heizer 1949);Siberia (Michael 1958);and New England (Snow
1980) for a review of the ground stone assemblages from each of these
respective regions. The pattern continues into other regions as well.
Though this is certainly not restricted to coastal cultures, there does
seem to be a connection - whether psychic, diffusional, or by
independent invention - with fishing cultures, the use of such charms,
and one other variable, and that is ochre usage in funerary customs.
Phallic, spindle and plummet-shaped stone objects are very common in
sites throughout central California. They have been recovered from
bottommost levels at Windmiller (Sac 107), West Berkeley (Ala-307), and
University Village (SMa-77). It is interesting to not that the earliest
forms are remarkably crafted exhibiting elaborate form, polish, and raw
material selection. Most of the rock material utilyzed is imported from
distant sources which seems to indicate a sense of familiarity not
common to peoples that supposedly had recently arrived from "other"