Seer stones are mentioned in the Book of Mormon. They were commonly used during the time of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion as a means to find treasure. Yes, like a dowsing rod but round, not so “stick-y”. Therefore, it was a means of divination.
The LDS Church provided a new glimpse of its origins Tuesday by publishing the handwritten “printer’s manuscript” of the Book of Mormon and photos of the “seer stone,” a dark, egg-size polished rock founder Joseph Smith claimed to have used to produce the faith’s sacred scripture.
Smith said he was led to a set of buried gold plates, which recorded the history of ancient American civilizations and a visit to this continent by Jesus Christ. The Mormon prophet said he was able to “translate” the “reformed Egyptian” language, using spiritual tools, including his “seer stone.”
This particular chocolate-brown banded stone was supposedly found in 1822 in a deep well Smith helped dig for one of his neighbors. There is no additional information about the type of rock it is. While I can’t see great detail on it, it is an odd color, chocolate-brown, and banded, suggesting a sandstone. The roundness is indicative that the rock was knocked about in a river where it would have become rounded and polished; or perhaps it is a glacial erratic transported from a more northern location. I am assuming that Smith found when he was in New York state. It’s a very pretty rock, indeed, but it has no magical powers of finding treasure or translating a religious text.
The Book of Mormon is widely criticized by scholars as having no evidential basis for it’s claims of ancient people who came to North America. You can read the Skeptic’s Annotated Book of Mormon here.