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Baking stones.  A name applied to a numerous class of prehistoric stone relics found principally on inhabited sites in s. California.  They are flattish, often rudely rectangular and somewhat oval plates, sometimes convex beneath and slightly concave above, and rare specimens have obscure rims.  Usually they

[[image: drawing of oblong stone with hole at top center; titled Prehistoric Baking Plate; California (1-10)]]

are made of soapstone, and often show traces of use over fire.  They rarely exceed a foot in length, are somewhat less in width, and perhaps an inch in average thickness.  The characteristic feature of these plates is a roughly made perforation at the middle of one end, giving the appearance of a huge pendant ornament. This perforation served, no doubt, to aid in handling the plate while hot.  Some of these objects may have been boiling stones to be heated in the fire and suspended in a pot or basket of water for cooking purposes.  This utensil passes imperceptibly into certain ladle-like forms, and these again into dippers, cups, bowls, and globular ollas in turn, the whole group forming part of the culinary outfit.  A remarkable ladle-like object of gray diorite was obtained from the auriferous gravels 16 feet below the surface in Place co., Cal.  It is superior in make to other kindred objects.  The baking stones of the Pueblo Indians, employed in making the wafer bread, are smooth, oblong slabs set over the fireplace.  See Abbott in Surveys West of the 100th Merid., VII,

[[image: drawing of round vessel and stone standing on two sides; titled Hopi Baking Stone. (Mindeleff)]]

1879; Cushing, Zuni Breadstuff, in Millstone, Nov. 1884; Holmes in Smithson. Rep. 1899, 1901; Mindeleff in 8th Rep. B. A. E., 1891 (W. H. H.)

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