Audio Tours



What do these look like to you? These stones are among the Bowers Museum's greatest mysteries—no one knows exactly what they were used for. They're called 'cogged' stones for the series of grooves carved along their edges. Some are perforated with a hole in the center. Most have been found near ocean bluffs or other hilly areas along the Santa Ana River Valley.

They come from the "middle period" of human existence in Southern California, starting about seven thousand years ago and extending for roughly two thousand years. Similar stones have been found in the coastal areas of Chile and Peru.

Scholars and researchers often ask to study the cog stones to try and solve their puzzle. Because they're so well preserved, some have suggested they had a religious purpose. Others believe they may have been used as weights for fishing nets, or to manufacture rope, or even as pieces in a game.

Elsewhere in the First Californians gallery you'll find other objects associated with the indigenous people of Southern California, including tools used in daily life, works of woven arts and personal adornments.

Step9-Cogged Stones, Milling Stone Horizon Culture, California

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