Surprise Sweat Lodge

As an added bonus to our adventures in Writing-on-Stone, we came across the remains of two modern sweat lodges. And, being such nerds as we are, we explored, measured, drew and photographed them too.

Look closely and you can see the upright sticks in each of the post holes around the edge, the hearth is behind it.

Look closely and you can see the upright sticks in each of the post holes around the edge, the hearth is behind it.

That was one good sized fire

That was one good sized fire

We suspect that one of our features from our excavation would have had a superstructure that was similar to that used for sweat lodges – young, flexible bent branches and then a hide covering. Sweat lodges are considered a more ceremonial event – think meditation/prayer + sauna. Rocks were heated in an open hearth outside the structure, then the super heated rocks were brought in and placed in a small pit where water was poured over them. After being reused several times the rocks often crack apart and the smaller chunks were then removed and tossed into a nearby midden/small refuse pile.

Hot rocks? No problem with my grabbing sticks.

Hot rocks? No problem with my grabbing sticks.

A tiny posthole.

A tiny posthole.

We don’t think what we have was a sweat lodge, unless they were making stone tools and cooking food while meditating, but the size of it suggests something smaller than the typical tipi. We think we have several smaller postholes around the edge of our living area, similar to the size seen here with the sweat lodge. Thus, this ended up being a bit of fortuitous research fort he report into modern equivalents – I love when things work out that way!

Young branches as ties - so eco-friendly before it was cool!

Young branches as ties – so eco-friendly before it was cool!

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