Stone Pendants

Turquoise pendants from Beckham County

Stone Pendants

Stone pendants are not common in Oklahoma although occasional specimens are likely to be found in almost any section of the state. Stone ornaments having more than one hole (gorgets) are much more common. Sometimes a broken gorget would be salvaged and converted into a pendant but this is usually evident upon examination of the specimen.

Stone pendants are flat tabular pieces of stone with a single perforation for suspension. The smaller specimens were apparently worn as ear pendants while the larger examples were worn around the neck either by themselves or as part of a necklace. They are usually made of shale or slate but many other stones, such as turquoise, microcline, phosphate nodules, or various igneous rocks, were also used. These ornaments were made by a grinding and polishing process and then were perforated with a stone drill for suspension. Pendants vary a great deal in their form and size. They are generally oval or rectangular in outline with the perforation placed toward one end. Examples are shown in Figure 24. Figures 24a-b are from the Harlan site (Ck-6) in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. They were found together and are made from large phosphate nodules. Specimen Figure 24c was not purposely shaped but represents a flat nodule that was collected and then perforated for a pendant. Figure 24b has been roughly


shaped from a split section of a phosphate nodule by rubbing the edges to obtain the rectangular form; the flat surfaces are but slightly smoothed.

The example illustrated in Figure 24d has been reworked from a larger ovate-shaped gorget which had been broken. The broken edge has been smoothed over and rounded out to produce a pendant from the remaining portion.

The two smaller examples (Figure 24f-g) are ear ornaments which were found at Wd-12 in Woodward County, Oklahoma. These must be imports from the Southwest as they are made of exotic materials from that area. Figure 24f is made of microcline and has been decorated with a series of notches arranged around the edges of the pendant; Figure 24g is made of turquoise and is similar to ear pendants worn by the Pueblo Indians today.

Stone pendants were used over a long period of time from the Archaic period up to the present. The illustrated specimens represent Late Archaic, Harlan phase Caddoan, and Plains Village occupation. It should be noted that stone pendants, as well as gorgets, sometimes have notches or "talley marks" cut into the edges. Occasionally lightly engraved designs were cut on the flat surfaces but the significance of these decorations remains unknown.

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