WE HAVE MOVED:
This may be the oldest
portable art in the Americas yet ironically, not portable to these
Paleo Indians or it would have long been scattered through time.
In this Chapter:
Before there was
Horses went extinct
in North America shortly after the last Ice Age. If our estimation
is right, when these Stone Age artifacts were first stacked, horses wouldn’t
re-emerge in North America for another 11,500 years when the Spaniards arrived.
Paleo Indians of the Spoon River region may have been the
first to use iron in the virgin form of hematite tools. It would be another
10,500 years before the bow & arrow emerge. It will be 10,000 years
before the Mayan civilization even begins to rise above the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula. It
will be 9,500 years before the first known carved stone figurine and the
invention of durable pottery. Fish hooks wouldn't be invented for another 8,500
On the other side of the world it will be about 7,400 years before the Egyptians
build their first pyramid. These stones were "pre-Columbian" art 7,000 years
before the Stonehenge calendar split the seasons. Over 600 generations of humans
will come and go...
This Stone Age Indian art may be the oldest known portable art in the Americas,
yet ironically, it wasn't portable to the Paleo Indian River Owl. If it had, it
would have long been scattered through time. These stones have intersected with
life on Earth for 354 million years, giving them a triple history: They formed
around sea life at the end of the Devonian Period when life took a foothold on
land; were held captive in a glacier that traveled over 200 miles during the last
Ice Age; were handle and admired by stone age people; and now have come to us as a
The people who made and appreciated this pre-Columbian art were not just North
American Indians, they were Stone-Age men and women. But stone age man was not
dumb, he just had limited resources. The River Owl could not leave behind cave
paintings. But they did leave us with a simple and effective art-form casting
beauty, humor and insight into their lives. Ponder these ancient stones – a
long-lost story of how life was – when the clan of the River Owl touched this
MATCHING THE STONES
About 30% of
these stone age figurines were found in the open field at the top of the
hill. We only have small windows of opportunity when collecting these stones
in this manner. The only way to see them at all is to walk the whole field.
This takes lots of time. So in an effort to cover the whole area, often in
the confusion and haste when collecting mud-covered Indian artifacts in the
field, we get them mixed up. For example, while covering a swath of say 12
feet wide, we may pick up an interesting stone in its fringe. On a
subsequent pass with an adjacent swath, we may find its mate which may have
only been a separated by a few feet, but because of the furrows, it was not
visible in the previous pass.
So most of the time, color and texture are all we have to match them. Next,
we look for old broken surfaces that might hint on how they go together. A
properly placed chip by the ancient artist allows the stones to stack either
vertically or horizontally. But many of the figurines have no chipped
surfaces at all.
we can’t radiocarbon date stone. However, breaks on stones do age. Fresh
stone breaks caused by farm implements are sharp and may cut skin or paper
and are usually shiny. We reject all prehistoric Venus and other figurines
stones with freshly broken surfaces unless they do not interfere with the
stacking or view of the image. Stone surfaces age over extended periods of
time and can be distinguished from its freshly broken surface and other
interim breaks, the latter usually has smoother edges to varying degrees
with a duller and often pitted surface from abrasive contact with sand and
other rocks in the soil.
in contact with soil abrasives are aggravated by the freezing and thawing of
ground water. So when we see an old break, this is a telltale clue that it
is either a feature to enhance the figurine in some way or a structural
modification to allow stacking. Some breaks are caused by colliding with
other stones while still in the river and usually can be distinguished from
breaks made by early man. Such surfaces as the latter are not quite as
smooth as river-polished breaks.
artists were very insistent on matching stones as close as possible. They
rarely crossed materials – only if the color and luster match were close.
For example, item #84 Thunderstorm Bird, the rare and beautiful green
olivine quartzite body was matched with an equally rare piece of olivine
quartzite head of a slightly different consistency but of the same color.
However, both stones in this case are likely from the same large mother
stone before it was broken-up by the glacier or flood.
Stacking the Stones
all of the prehistoric Venus and other figurines are free-standing, it must
be noted the River Owl had no level tables. They
probably stacked them on the ground at a designated spot in their yurt. So
floor vibration was not an issue. (It's possible figurines were used to
indicate earth tremors by the clan since the San Madres fault is nearby.)
Since we currently live in a grand old farmhouse built with heavy timbers,
the hardwood floors still bounce a little in some rooms when I (being a
relatively large man) walk through them.
We've found that by wetting the stones with hard tap water (water with a
high alkali or "lime" content) the prehistoric Venus and other figurines
hold together nicely despite the bouncing floors. It seems that once the
water between the stones has evaporated, a thin film of lime crystallizes
forming a light bond (removable by re-wetting) between the stones. The River
Owl certainly used Spoon River water which probably had a slight alkaline
Another technique I use for the more sensitive figurines is to underlay a
finished board with a high density urethane foam pad like they use under
carpeting. These pads are typically only about 1/8" thick and absorb the shock
of floor vibration allowing the figures to be undisturbed. Just lay the pad on
your bookshelf, then top with a nicely finish wooden board and stack your
figures on that. If using an enclosed display case the figures will stand dust-free
for years unless bumped.
With spiraling oil
prices most farmers have stopped disking the fields which turns
the soil about 5 inches down. Now they "rake" the topsoil about
3 inches down with harrowers and in many cases don't even turn
the ground at all and plant directly into last years
crop-stubble. Consequently many artifacts - including points -
remain unexposed thus harder to find. As a result, the price of
arrowheads and other Indian artifacts have risen dramatically
and will continue to rise. Invest now in the history of North
of points and ax heads have been hauled out of Midwestern fields in the past
century and have been sold to private collectors. (As of today, you can
still buy a decent “arrowhead” online for about $35.00 – just be certain
it’s authentic. Please check out our selections) However, the availability of Stone Age figurines
is quite different.
Modern agriculture has silted up most rivers worldwide, especially ones that
supported Stone Age man. It’s impossible to find such glacial stone clusters
in present-day rivers. Furthermore, finding complete prehistoric Venus and
other figurines in the field is - at best - a long shot. In the early 1800s
when this part of Illinois was first settled by the white man, there were
large stones to be cleared from the fields before they could be plowed.
These stones, aside from being left behind by glacial activity, may have
been the base remnants of many a prehistoric Venus or other figurines.
In the late
1980s American farmers discovered that by not plowing the fields each year
(the practice of “no-till”), earthworms could survive to enrich the soil.
Thus, shallow tilling such as harrowing or disking (4 to 6 inches deep)
brought higher crop yields. The environment benefits as well since erosion
is checked and energy is saved, keeping consumer costs down: One farmer told
me it costs him $150.00 (2003) just to hitch-up the plow to his tractor, gas
it up and drive it to the field. But, it is the act of deep plowing (9 to 12
inches down) that also brings up these buried treasures. Rain washes an
occasional item free of dirt to make it visible: But fields are typically
rough and not everything in that layer will surface. I sometimes wonder how
many priceless prehistoric Venus and other figurines I've step over
concealed by just a painting of dried mud. I'm still blown away that as a
teenager, I walked upon these prehistoric Venus and other figurines buried
just inches below my feet.
makes it more difficult for the figurine collector are fields that have been
in crops for more than a few seasons because they are not likely to give up
complete prehistoric Venus and other figurines. One may find a head stone or
a body stone, but not likely find both the same year. As the soil gets
turned, these parts tumble within the "plow zone" (the top 12" of tillable
soil), making it nearly impossible to find them complete. Smaller
prehistoric Venus and other figurines parts will tumble or cycle faster then
the larger parts, keeping them out of synch with each other in the surfacing
lighter prehistoric Venus and other figurines parts would eventually be
further and further separated from the heavier parts since most farmers drag
their equipment in the same pattern every year. Our unusual find was the
result of an old pasture that was, for the first time, plowed - then washed
by torrential downpours in the spring of 2002. If we had waited two years
most of these priceless prehistoric Venus and other figurines would have
In Memory of Webmaster
1950 - 2007
who's inspiration led to the
creation of this site
Owners of the Artifacts sold on this site:
Glen Raymond Kneer
Kneer, 85, of Williamsfield, Illinois died at 3:10 p.m. Sunday, May 5, 1996, at
Knox County Nursing Home, Knoxville.
Born Feb. 1, 1911, in Monica to George and Edna Lena Kneer, he married Audrey L.
Brown on Oct. 16, 1939, in Kahoka, Mo. She survives. Also surviving are one
foster son, Steve Hampton of Galesburg; one foster grandson, Christopher Hampton
of Geneseo; one uncle; one nephew; and several cousins.
He was preceded in death by one brother.
He farmed and had been a dairy farmer all his life, retiring in 1982. He had
been a member of the Knox County Farm Bureau and had been a leader of the Clover
Leaf 4-H Club in Victoria for several years.
He had been active in the Williamsfield United Methodist Church.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Williamsfield United Methodist
Church. The Rev. James A. Thompson, Sr. will officiate. Visitation will be from
6-8 p.m. tonight at the church. Burial will be in Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens,
Galesburg. Rux Funeral Home in Williamsfield is in charge of arrangements.
Published in the Journal Star (Peoria, IL) - Tuesday, May 7, 1996
Glenn Westlake, 90, of Browning died at 3:17 a.m. June 28, 2007, in Macomb.
He was born March 7, 1917, in Table Grove, a son of Smith and Rhoda Chenoweth
Westlake. He married Genevie Worthington on July 20, 1940, in Ft. Madison, Iowa.
Also surviving are four sons, Glenn A. (and Martina) of Astoria, Ronald (and
Nancy) and Gary (and Diane), both of Browning and Marvin (and Rebecca) of Mount
Carmel; three daughters, Linda (and Wilmer) Gale and Tami Clements, both of
Astoria and Julia (and Ron) Rayburn of Morton; one brother, Carl (and Edmona) of
Collinsville; 20 grandchildren; and 29 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by two sons, Dale and Larry; one daughter, Pamela
Westlake; three sisters, Nola, Cora and Vera; three brothers, Bernard, Lee and
Jim; and one grandson, Jonathan Westlake.
He was a U.S. Army veteran, serving in World War II.
He was a member of Bader Christian Church, where he served as elder.
He worked for Illinois Department of Transportation, Schuyler County Highway
Department, and was a Schuyler County farmer.
Services were held Sunday at Shawgo Memorial Home in Astoria with Rev. Bob
Florence officiating. Burial was in Browning Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to his church.
Published in the Astoria South Fulton Argus on 7/4/2007
Michael Van Lewis
GALESBURG--Michael Van Lewis, 63, of Galesburg, formerly of Peoria, passed away
at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at Seminary Manor in Galesburg.
Born September 15, 1949 in Peoria, a son of Verl M. and Florence VanAlst Lewis,
Michael married Sharon Lynn Apacki September 21, 1968 in Peoria. She survives.
Also surviving are two sons, Christopher M. (Stephanie) Lewis and their son
Gabriel of Peoria, Brett M. (Tera) Lewis of Galesburg; two brothers, Pat Lewis
of Peoria, Bob Lewis of Utah.
He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Terry Lewis.
Michael was a home builder, commercial builder, developer, and remodeler. He
owned and operated Michael V. Lewis Construction and Peoria Construction Co.
He was an avid fisherman and hunter. He loved his family, gardening and spending
time on his farm.
Michael was past president of the Home Builder's Association. He was a board
member of Central Illinois Contractor's and served for over ten years as
Chairman of the City of Peoria's Construction Commission.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at the Wilton
Mortuary in Peoria. Cremation rites were accorded.
Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society.
Delores E. Hampton has a
daughter Chrystal, and a son Daniel, from a previous marriage and has four
grandchildren. Delores has a degree in Agricultural Management and Wildlife
Conservation from Spoon River College
and holds numerous certificates in animal husbandry. She has devoted her life to
animals and is currently an animal keeper at Wildlife Prairie State Park in
on hill site 2601.D
Steven M. Hampton has studied
eastern and western philosophy under a score of noted and respected teachers
since 1974. He studied and practiced Gnostic Christianity, Hinduism, and yoga.
He has been a practicing Buddhist of both the Nyingma and the Karma Kagyü
lineages of Tibetan Buddhism under the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
since 1976. He has also studied and practice Tibetan White Crane Kung Fu and
3,000-year-old traditional Chinese medicine under Grand Master Dr. Lucjan Shila
in Boulder, Colorado. He has been practicing Tibetan Dream Yoga and lucid
dreaming for over 25 years. He has been a student of anthropology and archaeology
since 1989 and has done independent research at the University of Colorado. He
has researched the Paleo/Archaic Indians of the Spoon River valley.
Steve is also an
inventor who holds patents on a new type of aerospace engine. See
www.inertialpropulsion.com He and is currently
developing a new solar-powered space engine that could take man to Mars in weeks
instead of months.
The River Owl Collection
artifacts presented here from the Spoon River and other sites are
guaranteed to be unaltered originals. We abide by these strict
Rules of Conduct for fairness in trade: One, We do
not knowingly or intentionally sale reproduction artifacts. If
the original broken surfaces on any tested point by an independent
laboratory prove these pieces to be historic, then return it and we
will refund to you, in full, the price of the artifact; Two,
If for any other reason you are unhappy with your purchase, you have
14 days to return the item for a full refund, excluding return
shipping charges, no questions asked. All returned items must
however be received in the original condition for a full refund.
Three, we maintain a strict smoke- and pet-free
environment. Arrowheads and Stone Age tools from neighboring Spoon
River valley sites are also available.
Steve and Delores
Items may be returned undamaged for a full refund
(minus PayPal fees and return shipping cost) within 14 days of purchase. Buyer is fully responsible for the
secure packaging of the returned article.