Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Oldddd Stufffff

"A Zigzag on a Bison Skull May be North America's Oldest Art"

"What looks like a rather nondescript, zigzag line on the skull of an extinct bison turns out to be an exciting bit of artwork: It apparently is the oldest painted object ever recovered in North America.

The forehead of the skull was decorated with a jagged, reddish line sometime between 10,200 and 10,900 years ago, reports archaeologist Leland Bement of the Oklahoma Archeological Survey.
The unique specimen was recovered from a bone bed at the site of a Folsom-culture buffalo kill in northwestern Oklahoma. Bement said the painted skull was placed near the entrance of the kill site, perhaps to ensure the success of future hunts. The paint, made of a locally available iron mineral, was preserved for 10 millennia because the skull was quickly covered by the carcasses of bison killed during a subsequent hunt. The good-luck charm apparently worked."


Current Research in the Pleistocene 14:6-9 (1997)
A Painted Skull from the Cooper Site: A Folsom Bison Kill in NW Oklahoma

Leland C. Bement, Marian Hyman, Michael E. Zolensky, and Brian J. Carter

"An extensively trampled bison skull from the contact between two of the three bone beds at the Folsom-age Cooper site in NW Oklahoma has a red zigzag line 5cm long and 4mm wide painted on its frontal (Figure 1). The line traverses the frontal suture, and paint is deposited on the open suture walls. A second area of paint lies 1.5 cm anterior of the first. Its extent is unknown due to damage from trampling. Taphonomic and site formation analyses suggest the skull was painted just prior to the second kill, after natural decay had cleaned and bleached the skull's surface (Bement 1994). The success of the second kill is amply indicated by the bison skeletons overlying the painted skull and extensive damage by trampling."
"Circular and zigzag pictographs are very common in Fern Cave (See Photo 6).This
could be due to some American Indians' belief that powerful shamans could pass
through rocks marked with circles and zigzags. The circular elements might be tunnels
into other dimensions or worlds, as in shamanic trances of transformation, and the
zigzags may refer to the Milky Way, which some Native American groups considered
to be the path of dead souls (Lee 1988:139). Natural cracks in the stone were often
enhanced with these patterns and represented passages into the rocks. These openings
allowed the shaman access to the power in the stone, and provided passageways to the
spirit world."

A Narration of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner
Dr. Edwin James (1830)

“It must have been early spring when we arrived at Saugenong, for I can remember that the leaves were small and the Indians were planting their corn. They made me help in their labors. After the planting they all left the village and went out to hunt meat and dry it, and they took me with them.
When they came to their hunting grounds, they chose a place where there were many deer. Here they built a long screen, like a fence, of green boughs and small trees. The Indians were to shoot the deer from one side of it, and they showed me how to remove the leaves and dry brush from that side. I sometimes had the help of the squaws and children in this work, but at other times I did it alone.”

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