This draft document is not be quoted without the author's permission. ===========================================
Preface Back in the early 1980s when I had some time on my hands, I wandered up to the tourist attraction called “America’s Stonehenge,” (formerly “Mystery Hill”) which lies in my childhood territory, and to which I had gone often as a child and teenager. The site has long been a “folk archaeology” mecca, and it certainly whetted my life-long interest in archaeology with the tourist-guide tales of preColumbian Celtic colonialism and druidic human sacrifices performed on the grooved stone “sacrificial table” that we could see right before us (probably a cider press or lye-making stone!). Unfortunately it also warped my sense of history, and it took part of my undergraduate education to get it right again.
During that post-graduate year I spent living with my father and seeking career jobs, I worked part-time as an adjunct professor in English, a fisherman’s mate aboard a “six-pack” (mired in fish guts, passenger vomit, and, when lucky enough, amidst the fearful tuna-harpoon line like the one mentioned in Moby Dick), a night watchman at a school for disturbed adolescent girls (I was supposed to stop their jilted drug dealer boyfriends and pimps from visiting; they kindly cut the phone lines on the other guy’s shift).... and as a volunteer at America’s Stonehenge in between the gaps of my varied life that year. For when I had wandered through that day, I learned that an “archaeologist” was at work on the site and would welcome help from someone with a BA in anthropology.
How exciting! The last time I had seen a “real archaeologist” at the site had been when I was around 14 years old. There ensconced in a corner of the tourist shop was a man holding 35mm slides up to the light, with megalithic diagrams on the table behind him, and in his inaccessible archaeological mystery his image had been burned into me as The Way I wanted Life to Be. Though I was now an English post-graduate, my work had continued to bring archaeology and anthropology into the study of medieval folklore. Yet I had never been field-trained in archaeology, a fearful lack to my admittedly romantic psyche -- my BA focus had been in the purely theoretical concerns of emergence of complex society in ancient Peru, and when my professor said they were now shooting at archaeologists there, I traded lost cities in the jungle for lost insights in medieval literature. Now though, I had a quick shot at my first-love-affair with “dirty” archaeology, and the right time in a liminal proto-career year during which I dimly prophesied absorption into the banality of institutionalized life with little chance to ever lecture about Beowulf, potlatch ritual, and Iron Age archaeology.
Soon I was given an excavation square (just like that!) by the pretty young woman who sold the tickets and fried the hamburgers, and told I could get to work. I had a sketchbook, a brush, a trowel, plastic sample bags -- this was it! Perhaps I was distracted by the visits of the pretty young woman, who marveled that I could be so happy with an inch of excavated depth in 6 hours, because it took me a couple of days to wonder why I had been set out unsupervised except by the archaeologist’s assistant who finally came by -- an eccentric, friendly, unemployed middle-aged man who camped out in the attic of the tourist lodge and was proud of the archaeological certificate he had earned at SCRAP (still don’t know what that stands for) and sometimes gave me a few pointers about trowel technique (“Hold the trowel level so that you don’t shoot the artifacts off like a catapult.” Good advice).
Then, within a few days I discovered that the “archaeologist” who looked like one (khakis, short graying beard) was an adjunct English professor at another college, and was “self taught” in archaeology, and that indeed I could improve his “excavation” in many ways just from the book-learnin’ I’d had as an undergraduate (such as, keep track of what square’s dirt you are sifting -- the one actual native-ish potsherd found couldn’t be traced to the square from which it came, because they were dumping dirt in piles and sifting it later -- this is good if all you want is gold or the diamond eyes of idols). He was a worse fool than I was and a butcher of site information, and one who countenanced worser fools (at one point he let the site’s “trustees” in with shovels to dig for treasure, because they wanted to really, really find something fast!). Yet years later I saw his name as excavation director at an Irish monastic site! Draw what conclusions about Life from this as you can.
Thereafter I withdrew from “excavations” and confined myself to proposing low-impact studies such as surface scatter surveys and reasonable hypothesis testing -- by that I mean trying to teach people to avoid the improbable Celtic, Phoenician, etc. hypotheses that were fashionable and tourist worthy in favor of testing aboriginal and colonial-era hypotheses -- to stop expecting bronze axes, in other words. After all, under the stones of the “megalithic” chambers of this site nothing had ever been found but contemporary artifacts brought down by rodents such as bottle caps and colonial artifacts such as a musket ball. I allowed myself to entertain the “aboriginal hypothesis” but that had also faded by the end of 1986.
But what I had not recognized in micro-managing this social movement was that, uh, it was indeed a social movement, which cannot be managed. I was trying to resist a culture (or “microculture”), and a focus on archaeology was predisposing me to think archaeologically about weak archaeological theories -- this was not as useful or interesting as the study of the social movement itself. It took an archaeologist, Prof. Dena F. Dincauze, with whom I had had a couple o courses as an undergraduate, to gently persuade me a few years later that this was the better tack, to remind me that my folklore specialization was just the approach to use.
In any event, over the course of that year at the site, I found my efforts were quite unwelcome. The man who owned the site, Robert Stone, treated me quite fairly I must say, which is why I will mention his name here, but a few of the site employees started pressuring me to desist: “We’ve had enough negativity around here.” I was experiencing being the outsider to a solid microculture first-hand.
I retreated to Connecticut where I had found a technical writing job, continued my PhD program, and started writing this document in a truly pious last attempt to convince the Mystery Hill people to change their line of thinking. I showed it to the assistant archaeologist (the primary personality who had been involved for some years at the site) -- he didn’t like this manuscript much but spent much energy nitpicking to death in a very long letter. (Cult archaeological trivia: I was subjected to this same behavior in 1994 after I reviewed the creationist archaeology book, Forbidden Archaeology, and the author Michael Cremo wrote a very long letter back to me, which later became a chapter in a book he published about that attacks Forbidden Archaeology had suffered.) Thereafter I became too involved in a job, marriage, dissertation, and children, in that order, and I dropped this project (ca. 1986) without ever really admitting to myself that I had dropped it. I guess I still have not admitted that or I would be here posting this to a website.
This manuscript, in its flawed forever-draft form (complete with as yet unfound typos, improperly formatted citations I haven’t the energy to fix now, a few weak analogies, and clear gaps in very useful backgrounds such as epistemology), may be of some interest to students of the cult/folk-archaeology movement (aka. alternative science movement). This record may provide that insider perspective into the personal and social issues of this site not mentioned elsewhere, although for the most part I have deleted personal names where their mention might seem gossipy rather than scholarly.
I think this ms. will also be useful for people who have heard of but not yet been able to visit the Mystery Hill/America’s Stonehenge site. The site is worth visiting because of its role in the folk archaeology movement and because the site is an interesting example of the eccentricity a colonial-era farm site can seemingly take on (though the stone chambers would not seem so unusual to the farmers of that era -- in fact they were so usual as to not bear mention in history: read Cole’s "Cult Archaeology and Unscientific Method and Theory," Neudorfer’s Vermont Stone Chambers, and Williams’ Fantastic Archaeology for more about that).
In homage to the archaeological over-focus that started me on this project, let me add that I believe my “random number grid” method for testing/debunking the “astronomical alignments” of the stones in the stone walls was a good idea, though rather clunky in its first manifestation here. I have not scanned in the old paste-up figures to demonstrate the method, but I hope the verbal description will make clear what I had intended. As many cult archaeological sites come with these astronomical alignment claims, I offer my method to future over-focused investigators.
The site continues its tourist operations but changes with the times. During a visit in summer 2002, I saw outdoor exhibits including a reconstructed wigwam, Native American agriculture, a Maypole, and others -- what theoretical or touristical goals these were meant to cater to might bear investigation. I also saw artifacts that looked like recent “offerings” of plastic flowers and other objects placed along one of the astronomical site lines. I also wandered off the tourist trail to show my friend the mostly untrodden back of the site, where a rockshelter once gave up native sherds (shown in the tourist lodge), and where the natural defoliation of the bedrock best shows the natural origin of the slabs used to make the “standing stones” -- out there I saw a small triangular slab recently tilted up (as evidenced by the flattened ground on which it had rested) to form a new “standing stone,” probably a category of tourist vandalism or shall we call it “interactive site design”? And so it all continues. Very interesting to the anthropologist and well worth a Master’s Thesis whose topic is the generation of new anti-establishment groups.
Adjuncts to this manuscript are available on this website in the form of my in-draft or published discussions of creationism issues (which can involve folklore and archaeology) and my unpublished review of the videotape “Remembering the End of the World,” a production of E. Velikovsky’s disciple, Donald Talbot.
-- Wade Tarzia, Waterbury, CT, January 2007).
Abstract I review and critique alternative (or “sensational”) theories of the Mystery Hill Site in North Salem, NH. Possible builders are narrowed down to post-Columbian colonists and northeastern Native American tribes. To decide between the two most plausible builders, the paper analyzes 'standing stones' and 'astronomical alignments' that have been proposed by previous workers. These topics lend the site most of its sensational aura, and confirming or falsifying astronomical claims is useful in deciding between the two most plausible builders. The standing stones are discussed in terms of provenance, form, and distribution. Of particular interest is the possibility that the standing stones exist in a quantity and distribution that allows researchers to 'discover' astronomical alignments while the stones themselves may have been placed in their matrix stonewalls randomly in regard to the azimuths of seasonal astronomical events. The report concludes by discussing the need for goal formulation and hypothesis testing methods.
Introduction to the Site and its Background The Mystery Hill site in North Salem, New Hampshire (hereafter, MH; named commercially “America’s Stonehenge”) has stimulated nearly a century of speculation. To some, the jumble of unmortared fieldstone chambers and "standing stones" existing amidst ordinary farm stone-walls and foundations finds no precedent in the architectural history of New England. Amateur enthusiasts have devised unusual hypotheses to explain the origins of the site, most posing the theory that it was a religious site (later an astronomically aligned sacred site such as some megalithic monuments of Europe), of medieval Irish anchoritic monks, with later variant theories positing pagan Celtic, Bronze Age European, or even Phoenician. Crudely scratched stones have been “translated” as Irish ogam letters. In contrast, professional archaeologists have explained MH and other sites like it as a relic of nineteenth century architectural adaptation (see Cole:1982, Neudorfer:1980), and the ogam as being merely weathered and glacially striated stones. I grew up a few miles from the site and visited it as a child tourist, believing until early college years the alternative possibilities touted by the site’s commercial tour-guides and “archaeologists.” When still later I came to learn that the most-quoted “archaeologists” were most often amateurs with nonprofessional background in archaeology, and when I finally considered the data and theorizing about the site, I decided that the mainstream archaeologists still had the best theory for the site -- that it was an early American (post Columbian) farm site, somewhat unusual but by no means without its cousin sites in New England, also datable to the post Columbian American settlement.
For me the story might have ended there except MH has continued as a “Mecca” for alternative archaeological theorizing of an anti-establishment kind. The site still survives as a tourist site called “America’s Stonehenge,” and site owners and supporters still favor an Old World cultural origin of the site that would place European or Mediterranean colonist of the Bronze Age to Iron age as possible builders of this “religious” complex. Presumably, such ancient overseas colonists would have co-existed with Native Americans for some time -- some alternative theorists would even suggest that some Native Americans words indeed have roots in European languages. So the story did not end, for neither myself nor this school of archaeological thought. Still, when I wrote the great majority of this essay over 15 years ago I didn’t imagine that in January 2002 I would be sitting on the floor of my living room eating my salad and turning on turn on the TV to relax only to find the nationally televised The History Channel airing a show about megalithic monuments with an emphasis on Mystery Hill. There I saw all the site owners and enthusiasts expounding all the old theories and the professional archaeologists counter-expounding all the (established) counter theories.
I originally wrote this essay to think through and set down my arguments for myself, and then to present them to my alternative archaeologist acquaintances whom I had met in 1983. They were cool to the ideas presented; in the summer of 1984 as I spoke about this essay as I shaped it, the site manager suggested my ideas were no longer welcome there: “We’ve had enough negativity around here.” I was naively disappointed, having recently gained general training in anthropology and folklore, where I had gotten the notion that colleagues discussed ideas, happily using evidence to reject weak ideas and develop new ones. I was naive because I was not thinking about what I was really doing: telling one social group (a “folk group” in the anthropologist’s terms) that its basic theories were probably weak but that mine were stronger.
In truth, scientists are not happy at being wrong, or being told they are wrong, and they react to bad news in varying degrees of scientific calm. Further, scientists all come from to differing ethnic groups and economic classes and carry their origins with them everywhere (as humans do). As well, scientists form cliques as rapidly as any schoolyard, neighborhood, and street gang. This being said, the potential conflicts between mainstream scientists (those with professional, usually institutional positions) and amateur scientists (those who pursue some area of science --here archaeology -- outside of their training and occupation) are increased because these two large groups carry an additional potential for conflict -- the classifications of mainstream vs. amateur, enough to define an ideological border between two groups that sometimes overshadow the usual reasons groups of humans form opposing cliques.
The reasons and consequences for such a division I leave to others who have deeply studied the profession (see XXXXXXX, XXXXXXX, XXXXXXX for the basic discussions [Note 1/07: I probably meant the scholars of epistemology, science movements, and microcultures: to them I would add the people who have studied folk archaeology: John R. Cole, Ken Feder, Steve Williams, and others]). I will speak about what I know -- my experience at Mystery Hill where the conflict between mainstream and alternative theory has been ongoing, modified, and negotiated for many years. This is a case study that will, however, sometimes echo the larger theoretical and epistemological issues ongoing in today’s co-existence of science, pseudoscience, Para-science, and occult beliefs and practices.
First, I will review popular thinking about site origin and work toward narrowing the possibilities point by point through anthropological archaeology (the discussion covers basic ideas for a general archaeological audience). Following this analysis, I focus on anomalous site features -- the so-called “standing stones” -- and evaluate them from the standpoint of provenance, form, and distribution -- points that would-be astro-archaeologists must consider before making claims about purposeful astronomical alignments at MH. In summary, I show that the mystery of Mystery Hill can be at least reduced and that, indeed, sensational hypotheses, however much they enliven 20th century living, must be tempered with practicality if we identify more with science than the desire to see what would most excite us.
One final pause -- I was once disappointed to find that the “authorities” speaking about the site were no better informed than myself; I do not wish to perpetuate such conditions so let me explain my own context. I took a BA in anthropology with a focus in archaeology. My archaeology training was in the survey and theoretical kind; I did not train in the specific techniques of field archaeology. Indeed, the moment when I swiftly doubted alternative theorizing about the site was when I cast my eye over an excavation there (1983-84) and found ways to improve it even with my cursory knowledge of excavation and data-collection methods. I went on to do doctoral work with a focus on medieval folklore (through an English department), alongside of which I continued research into anthropological and archaeological theory (through my former anthropology department and my own studies) because that seemed the best way to approach medieval customs and beliefs as preserved in its folklore. Between these studies I have maintained my interest in phenomena akin to Mystery Hill -- I am what I am partly because I grew up near the site, and it instilled in me a romantic wonder and curiosity in all things odd, historical, and cultural (I have few regrets!). So in a sense I am an in-between-person -- trained in an “establishment” sense, partly in areas that touch on archaeology, yet not an archaeological specialist, nor a specialist in scientific epistemology. The reader may judge my ideas with this background in mind.
Site Description and Background Mystery Hill comprises five major features: 1) the stone walls common throughout New England, commonly marking field boundaries and not usually by themselves high enough to restrain livestock well, 2) somewhat abnormal stone walls in which upright stone slabs (approximately 4 feet high and of widely varying shape) occur sporadically, 3) several chambers constructed from small boulders or large slabs of naturally formed stone, 4) ruins of what may have been other walls or chambers, and 5) a house foundation dated from the nineteenth century, and perhaps a second one slightly earlier in date. Most of the stone chambers cluster to the north west side of the house foundation, although one chamber exists about 240 feet downhill, east-south-east from the house. The chambers resemble other sites like all around New England, which are usually called root-cellars.
Historical records do not supply much information. A Seth Pattee appears to have had a mill at the foot of the hill on Spicket River around 1769. His grandson Jonathan is the first recorded owner of the site; he built his small house there in 1832 (Vecelius:1). Anecdotal evidence suggests that the site was sold to stone quarriers sometime in the latter half of the 18th century when, supposedly, an unknown portion of the site was removed -- some people claim from 20 to 80 percent -- and used to build some of the curbstones and sewers of Lawrence, Massachusetts. At the time of this writing I am not sure about the type and origin of evidence for these “stone quarrying” claims. Holes drilled into some boulders at the site suggest that quarrying tackle was anchored there.
Written speculation about MH extends at least as far back as 1907, when Gilbert, Salem's town historian, wrote of the site, "about which the most weird and fantastic tale might be woven" (Gilbert:1907:418). Curiosity continued throughout the early twentieth century, evidenced by the activity of investigators such as Goodwin (an amateur enthusiast) in 1933 and Bird and Hencken (trained archaeologists) in 1945 (Vecelius:1955:2-3). Goodwin put forward the first of many 'trans-Atlantic' theories by claiming medieval Irish monks built the chambers (Goodwin:1946). He reconstructed some of the walls and chambers, and we do not know how 'creative' his reconstructions are. Bird completed some cursory testing and was unable to come to any conclusions about the site (Vecelius:1955:3). Hencken, a specialist in Celtic archaeology, dismissed Goodwin's claims; he thought the site was built in the 17th century (Vecelius:2).
Popular curiosity probably began in the late thirties, as newspapers got hold of Goodwin's "Irish monk" theories:
The newspapers were quick to learn of Goodwin's hypotheses, and it was inevitable that the Boston press should feature stories about America's Irish discoverers...It was not to be expected that the appearance of Hencken's scholarly refutation could serve to stem the flow of incautious newspaper and magazine articles (Vecelius:3).
Gary Vecelius (a trained archaeologist) carried out field work at the site in 1954. His excavation, survey, and report have been by far the most rigorous work completed at MH at the time of this writing (December, 1985). Vecelius concludes that the site was a colonial-era farm, supporting his claims historically and archaeologically (for example, he found a musket ball under stones that other theorists claim are ‘druidic dolmens’ and the like).
Comparatively recent research at the site has involved surveys and minor excavations by people with little anthropological or archaeological training. Some restorative work has been done on teetering slabs and fallen walls; the restoration that I have witnessed has been conservative -- mostly for ensuring tourist safety (observed 1983, work by David Steward-Smith, a mason; his restorations can be identified signed by his trademark stylistic symbol carved into any site features he modified). Ravaging and 'souvenir collecting' has occurred at all periods of the site. The combined effects of plundering and sincere -- but untrained -- curiosity have resulted in a tangle of remains that is difficult to approach archaeologically (Dincauze: personal communication, Fall 1984). Trespassing is common, and vandalism occurs infrequently, but it is especially prevalent during the pagan holidays when modern cultists attempt to 'revive' the site for an evening’s duration. The current management discourages such activity as much as possible -- which is an impossible task unless one lives at the site.
[ Note, June 2001: the commercial aspects of the site have changed over the years. The site now features simply reconstructed Native American dwellings, a small horticultural garden, and a stage area for performances; the theories offered tourists now combine both pre-Columbian transatlantic contacts as well as Native American origin -- a tendency that was just beginning when I was studying the site in 1983-1984. I am not certain to what extent, if at all, the site operators allow any modern ‘cult’ activity -- such as Wiccan -- to take place there. On one Halloween in 1983, a burned-down black candle was discovered on the grooved stone named the “sacrificial table” at the site. ]
Oral tradition supplies meager and varied information from the early part of this century. My mother remembers MH as both "Pattee's Caves" and the "Indian Caves" where she picnicked throughout the nineteen thirties and forties. Vecelius indicates that one of the remaining Pattees remembers his father saying he did not construct the chambers, but had improved them (Vecelius:1). Local memory recalls the Pattees having orchards, and that cider pressing was done on the hill (Ibid). Some recalled that Jonathan was a moonshiner, and a robber who had to hide on the hill (Ibid). Similarly, Mrs. Stickney, my uncle’s mother, living locally, in 1984 recalled the story that outlaws lived on the hill, and that a tunnel extended from the ruins to the bottom of the hill. In this last belief we find that MH has participated within the general bounds of folk-legend. “Tunnel” beliefs are tradition folk motifs in European folklore; I collected several such beliefs during 1980 fieldwork in Ireland (Tarzia, unpublished manuscript); with little exception, ruins on hilltops generated stories of tunnels leading down from them or across the countryside to other ruins. This motif also occurs in the folklore of England (Balfour: 1904: 60), and it shows the similar workings of the human mind across both time and ocean.
Schools of Thought on Mystery Hill Like the oral accounts, written accounts of MH are varied. The lack of detailed, consolidated, and authoritative research on the site (aside from Vecelius's work) has formed an ideal basis for diverse speculations. As a result, several schools of thought have crystallized around Mystery Hill. Most of these rely upon the "trans-Atlantic migration" theory -- the idea that MH was built by ancient pre-Columbian European or Mediterranean-area colonizers. But let us examine each school of thought briefly. I should mention that these 'schools' are manifest both in popular literature and in the conversations of visitors and workers at the site with whom I had sporadic but instructive interaction over the past two years.
The Phoenician School -- This school of thought does not have a great following, but one finds it arising occasionally. It contends that ancient Phoenician mariners discovered America and built MH at some point on Phoenician history. Since the Phoenicians first pushed into the Mediterranean in the 700s BC (Haywood:1968:106), the school must assume that MH dates after this period and before the rise of the Assyrian Empire in the 600s BC, when the Phoenicians came under their dominion.
The Viking School -- Archaeologists have proved that Norsemen reached the shores of New Foundland and even set up a winter base there (Campbell and Kidd:1980:69) [June 2001 note -- of course, much more evidence for Norse occupation in Canada has been published since then] . Possibilities are not stretched too far by assuming the Norsemen could have sailed further south to New England. Since the Viking colonization began after the eighth century A.D. (Campbell and Kidd:65), proponents of the school must date Mystery Hill after this time.
The Celtic School -- By far the most popular school of thought concerning Mystery Hill is the Celtic School. Popular authors (Fell:1976, Hitching:1977, for example) have expounded the Celtic theory for years, and anyone who has visited MH can speak of astronomical alignments "proven" to fall on ancient Celtic holidays. The small tourist industry set up at the site has a set of paths, guide-posts, maps, and an observing station that guide the tourist to upright slabs of stone that point to the sky. [June 2001 note -- the commercial aspects of the site have expanded slightly since 1985, as noted above. ] The sun can even be photographed at the midwinter solstice, in line with the solstice stone and the designated site center. In the popular imagination, these features point to mystical druids, Stonehenge, and old pagan Celtic rites. The Celts arose as a recognizable set of culture traits around 1200 BC in central Europe (Lehman:1975:89). They spread from central Europe and reached Western Europe by around 600 BC (Moody and Martin:1968:43, but there is debate over exactly when Celts arrived in the British Isles, Lehman:93). If we allow for some time for Celtic populations to establish themselves in new territory before finding a reason to make distant sea voyages, the proposed Celtic builders must have begun the site after 600 BC, the point of establishment of Celts in western Europe. Of course, this date says nothing about the time needed for the inland Celts to expand to the sea and develop a reliable maritime technology and experience; so a date much later than 600 BC might be supposed.
The Bronze Age School -- This school can include the 'Phoenician School,' though I specifically refer to the Bronze Age cultures of Europe who built some of the megalithic structures there. The Bronze Age in Europe begins around 2000 BC and ends around 500 BC (see Coles and Harding:1979), and the school must assume that MH's origin has roots between these dates.
The Neolithic School -- Neolithic cultures in Europe have produced most of the megalithic structures there, and proponents of this school might assume that MH extends as far back as 4000 BC, when Neolithic social patterns appear in western Europe (see Clark:1968). The same comment applied the Celts above apply here regarding development of reliable maritime experience.
The Aboriginal School -- A small but growing group of people rejects the diffusionist theories and favors the idea that Native Americans built MH. There certainly is some precedent for such behavior, since Indian sites in the south west include some that are astronomically aligned (Cornell:1981:168). The school must assume that the site was constructed after 1200 BC, when cultivated plants are introduced into New England (Dincauze:1974:53) -- that is, when at least partial sedentism and the rise of tribal life (thus increased opportunity for corporate architectural projects) may begin to occur.
The Colonial School -- This is the school that is favored among the majority of professional archaeologists. They hold that MH shares many traits with other stone slab and corbelled structures of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in New England (see Cole: 1982, Dincauze:1983, Neudorfer:1979), and that such structures were practical adaptations to subsistence needs of that period (root storage, dairy storage, etc.).
Let me add that an "ancient astronaut" school also exists, but its theories are too tenuous to consider here. The commercial owners of the site do not nor ever seem to have subscribed to it.
Analysis of the Schools of Thought Each of the schools outlined above must be examined in light of certain key points of argument. I list them here:
1) cultural parameters -- A) considering the customary architecture found in a culture's archaeological record; B) considering the way different cultures regulate themselves through ritual -- that is, whether certain societies would or would not have been inclined to build megalithic monuments for ritual purposes;
2) chronology -- correlating datable events at the site with the dates of the possible founding cultures;
3) architectural form -- taking into account the architectural requirements for ritual symboling and how they are best satisfied;
4) material evidence -- taking into account the artifacts that have been recovered from MH;
5) traditional conformance and continuity -- taking into account the way in which social patterns should show geographic and temporal distribution.