Peace Dale Museum of Art and Culture

November 26, 2022 | Donna Grady

The Memory Pile Tradition

On Thursday, December 1, anthropologist Timothy Ives will talk about the many historical written descriptions of memory piles and their implications for archaeology. Dr. Ives, formerly the Rhode Island state archaeologist, will consider why this practice has long fascinated European-American observers.

Since early colonial days and perhaps before, Native American travelers have left a stone, stick, or other object at specific roadside locations. While local beliefs varied, securing good fortune through an act of remembrance appears to have been a common goal. Travelers, historians, and ethnographers have variously referred to the objects of this practice as memory piles, sacrifice rocks, stone heaps, or taverns.

The program, which is free and open to the public, will be live streamed on the Museum’s YouTube channel and will be recorded for later viewing.

The Museum’s mission is to educate children and adults about the pre-industrial world through exciting and thought-provoking programs and exhibits that focus on local history and archaeology. The Museum’s work is supported entirely by donations from members and friends and through private grants.

Our Museum Gallery is located on the second floor of the Peace Dale Office Building at 1058 Kingstown Road (Route 108) in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.