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Spirit of Stone

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University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario: 16mm.
"The Stony Lake petroglyphs, also called the Peterborough petroglyphs, were discovered in 1953 by a Canadian geologist who was surveying an isolated area on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. He came across a long smooth hump of limestone covered with manmade markings. An archaeologist was brought to the site, and the petroglyphs were uncovered. These are not simply rock paintings—these pictures have been ground out of the soft limestone using tools made of harder stone. This significant find was purchased by the government, who eventually made the area into a historic provincial park. Attempts are still being made to establish the age of these carvings. Tools found near the site are associated with the Laurentian culture, which is about three to five thousand years old, but other anthropologists believe the carvings are more recent. The site is now open to the public, and anthropology professors from Trent University hold seminars for their students on the rocks. This unique art form has been studied by anthropologists and native art specialists in order to learn and understand the way of life of the ancient people. Many symbols occur repeatedly, such as birds, turtles and snakes. These animals, common to the area, also represent spirits. The sun was a predominant symbol, as was fertility and magic. The ancient people had recorded their fears, dreams, and mythology on the white limestone, and this gave them the spiritual strength needed to survive."


Arts on Film (
"The Canadian Peterborough Petroglyphs are the largest example of prehistoric rock carvings in Eastern North America. The hundreds of signs and symbols that surround the site are also the most enigmatic. The film explores how the carvings were first discovered; and how their date and meaning has eluded archaeologist for decades. Carved by Algonquian First Nation inhabitants of some uncertain past, they are estimated to be between 500 to 5000 years old.This is a film that will stimulate discussion from high school history and social studies through to university level anthropology, archeology and comparative religion."