Pre Columbian Art
Stacking stone art existed 10,000 years before the Mayans rise above the
Updated with more
Page 1 of 2
Artifacts FOR SALE
In this Chapter:
When did humans
first come to North America? This question has been hotly debated for over a
century, especially now with the recent interest in the last Ice Age. According
to established theory, sometime during the Pleistocene, around 13,000 years ago,
the last great eastern ice sheet, the Laurentian, reached down only to Wisconsin
and was already receding. Paleo Indian had immigrated across the Bering Sea
by the land bridge of the Aleutian Island chain (known as Beringia) from Siberia
into North America and followed a corridor south between the retreating ice
sheets, perhaps to hunt wooly mammoth.
A more recent
theory propose prehistoric Solutreans of Ice Age France also sailed west to
America across the Atlantic Ocean along the south ridge of the polar ice cap
more than 18,000 years ago. It is thought they brought Clovis point
technology (earlier, similar points were found in France) and genetic diversity (such as red hair and large noses) to
However, genetic markers found in Native Americans of various tribes point
more towards Asian ancestry. Even more recent findings
suggest that humans came to North America as far back as 50,000 years ago!
Ages of Man
15. Star Eyes Baby
6. Reflecting Man
77. Great Grandfather's Bones
The exact date
humans came to North America will not be found soon, but the Hebior and
Schaefer Wisconsin mammoth sites about 350 miles northeast of our recovery
site were recently carbon-dated to 15,000 to 16,500 years ago and contained
artifacts that were basically cutting and skinning tools.
What was the
climate like when people first came here? Northern Illinois has an unusual
climate history due to its latitude and geology. The Chicago region in
particular was once under the southern edge of the Wisconsinan ice sheet.
When this massive ice sheet started to retreat 18,000 years ago, it
depressed the land and created a widen basin:
Much of the city of Chicago lies on beach and lake sediments
deposited by Lake Michigan and its predecessor glacial Lake
Chicago. After the Wisconsin glacier retreated from the Chicago
region, it still occupied and dammed the northern end of the
Lake Michigan basin, forming glacial Lake Chicago. This lake,
which covered most of present-day Chicago, was higher than
modern Lake Michigan.
pollen and fossilized vegetation in this ancient Ice Age lakebed scientists
have determined that at the closing of the last Ice Age, the southwestern
Chicago region and the northern half of Illinois was like no other place on
retreat of the glaciers, vegetation invaded the newly ice-free
terrain. From about 18,000 to 16,000 years ago, open tundra-like
vegetation with scattered spruce (Picea)
trees covered the
landscape. Both white spruce (Picea glauca) and black
spruce (Picea mariana) were present, as was larch (Larix
laricina). These trees are all common today in the boreal
forest or taiga of Canada. Although the glaciers had retreated,
the climate was still quite cold. About 16,000 years ago, the
spruce forest became denser, and closed forest developed. This
spruce forest lasted for about 1,000 years, until about 15,000
years ago, when climate warmed and deciduous trees became more
abundant, including balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera),
black ash (Fraxinus nigra), and ironwood (Ostrya
virginiana or Carpinus caroliniana). Balsam fir (Abies
balsamea) also was present, as was spruce, although not as
abundantly as before.
late-Pleistocene forest of spruce and deciduous trees is unusual
in that a forest of similar composition does not occur anywhere
today. The implication is that the climate was unlike any
climate in North America today. The presence of spruce suggests
cool summers, whereas the deciduous trees imply relatively warm
winters. Thus, the climate may have been more equable than it is
now. Although the Laurentide ice sheet, which still existed to
the north, may have kept the summers cool, it may also have
blocked arctic air masses from extending into the Midwest during
So there was a
warming trend and a thickening of forestation between 15,000 to 13,000 years
ago. According to some, this environment may have driven Mammoth and other
large fauna out of their cool grazing lands reducing their numbers into
sparsely populated small herds in this region.
15. Star Eyes Baby
This cheeky little
toddler is even cuter in real life. The head is red and yellow
carnelian agate w sparkling clear crystal eyes. Body is fire
(red and yellow) carnelian as well. This pre-Columbian artifact
was probably a child's toy or mother's
keepsake; 2 parts. 2.0"h; 66 gm $65
About 14,000 years ago,
at the height of this paradise, the Wisconsinan glacier had retreated to the
present shoreline of Lake Michigan, about 250 miles NE of the recovery site.
This likely made our recovery site a very pleasant place for humans to live. It was a
lost Garden of Eden with cool summers and warm winters and smaller game were
Newly discovered prehistoric
Native American Indian antiquities and figurine art suggest that
surgery and the use of iron is older than previously thought !
to the Mega Fauna and the Paleo-Indian? Then suddenly everything
changed. A geological black-layer deposit of carbon containing nano-diamonds
at over 50 locations in North America tells the tale: About 12,900 years ago a huge Ice Age comet
hit the atmosphere just above Canada. The discoverer, Geologist James Kennett, also found an
abnormally high percentage of these nano-diamonds in a Greenland Glacier at
the 12,900-year layer. What happens next is like something out of a
Dooms-Day sci-fi movie: The exploding comet creates a giant white-hot
tornado and sets forests ablaze killing off just about everything and
everybody in North America. The remaining vegetation would have been
charred, forcing starvation upon surviving mega fauna. The comet probably
did-in Paleo Indian as well.
This comet melted a good portion the Laurentide Ice Sheet and the resultant
flood waters changed the Atlantic currents. This combined with ash and soot
in the atmosphere, plunged the Northern Hemisphere into a Mini-Ice Age for
another 1,200 years.
More evidence of such a catastrophic change lies in Lake Chicago lakebed:
About 13,000 years
ago climate apparently cooled again, and spruce became more
abundant and black ash less common. During this time birch (Betula)
and alder (Alnus) were also important components of the
At that time,
the summers here were one month shorter than today and rivers had dropped to
their near present levels. By the end of this Mini-Ice Age 11,700 years ago, the
climate warmed. The ancient lakebed tell us ...
Then from about
12,000 to 11,500 years ago, the vegetation changed very rapidly
as climate suddenly warmed at the transition from the
Pleistocene to the Holocene. 
floods, gravity continued its work on the riverstones, again using water as
a tool, albeit in less dramatic fashion: Since glaciers follow the course of
rivers, the exposed rocks were washed down and further polished by flowing
water. After it all settled, the ice and floods had cobbled many sections of
the clear riverbeds with smooth pebbles and stones - some rare and
semiprecious. During this post-glacial flooding, smooth rocks with similar
specific gravity had congregated in clusters at eddies on selected northern
Illinois river bottoms. In these eddy pockets, matching odd-shaped stones
were clearly visible, crafted by Mother Earth’s gravity-hammer and
water-chisel. These polished stones would have looked remarkably beautiful
under clear water. Who wouldn't have picked up such interesting and shiny
stones in a world where shiny objects were rare? (And how could you resist a
face looking up at you through the sparkling water?)
The following is based on what is currently known about ancient
peoples, along with the authors speculation, and not intended to
be presented as actual fact.
Who created this prehistoric Pre-Columbian Indian art?
Around 11,700 BP (Before Present or years ago) the
climate became warmer and drier in Illinois promoting the growth of northern
confers and central hardwood forests. Early Archaic Indians (or Late
Paleo Indians) came into the region to hunt small game with atlatl
spears then moved to Missouri, Arkansas and points farther south
including Louisiana. We don't know what these prehistoric people who made this Native American
pre-Columbian Indian art looked like as no skeletal remains have been
found. They may have looked like the Aleuts of the Aleutian Islands
stretching between Asia and Alaska. Some quite possibly had Caucasian
features inherited by the Solutrians of France.
27. Running Gray Wolf
down and back, this
artifact appears to be a
timber wolf on the chase. The head stone
on this figurine makes a convincing canine from all sides. The
body stone from the viewers’ side gives the illusion its limbs
are in motion. It's quite possible this figure represents the
formidable but now extinct Dire Wolf, which according to some
accounts, went extinct about 12,000 ya and had shorter legs than
modern wolves but much larger bodies. Sienna and gray jasper
colored by ancient-life carbon, 2 parts. 5.0”h; 1115 gm
months the Missouri/Arkansas people would migrate north into this area by
foot to hunt deer and elk.
There is also evidence that a few mammoth may have still been around.
In autumn they would migrated back to their southern home. These nomadic
tribes consist of small family groups - more like clans than tribes - who
followed the rivers. They returned each spring to their "Happy Hunting
Ground" that was settled by their ancestors who possibly first came down from the
crystalline amethyst duck has rock vein patterns resembling
wings on the back of the bird and it is not completely certain
if they were worked. It is however, quite beautiful when wetted
in full sunlight. The body stone was found in the spring of
2002. The head was recovered from the same site in the spring of
2005. To the ancient Native American Indian, animals that could
travel between the basic elements i.e. water to air (ducks and
geese), were special creatures and considered sacred. Knowing
that, it is little wonder this figurine was collected from the
river by Ice Age Indian. Head and body are amethyst metaquartzite. 2 parts. 3.5"H;
394 gm $3100
By about 11,000 BP conifer forests became mixed with deciduous trees
peppered by high grasslands and low, reedy river bottoms:
In the earliest Holocene, the conifers—
spruce, fir, and larch—disappeared, and
a deciduous forest dominated by black
ash, elm (Ulmus), and oak prevailed.
Other deciduous trees also occurred,
including sugar maple, basswood,
ironwood, hickory, and walnut (Juglans).
The abundance of elm and ash, trees that
favor wet soils, implies a very wet
11,700 BP the still nomadic Early Archaic Indians began returning to the
same Illinois river valleys each spring - not just to hunt - but to stay and
fish. Why? We believe two remarkable events happened that narrows the age of
this ancient Native American pre-Columbian Indian art.
26. Wounded Stag
This pre-Columbian figurine
with its 8 original pieces assembles in both the horizontal and
vertical planes. Like nearly all the other figurines, these
pieces were recovered together. This stag may be representative
of the extinct Irish Elk which survived to about 7,000 ya. Ice
Age deer and elk stood 7 feet tall at the
shoulders. Still, these stones arrange to make a disquieting
view of the hunt: This buck is down and waiting for the
inevitable while the Paleo Indian hunter approaches. As dark as
this may seem to some, this moment is the hunter’s big reward
for his efforts: The buck will feed the clan for days and win
him respect among his peers and approval of the chieftain. The
twig "spear" was added by the author. The flat red “blood” stone
lays double-tongue-in-groove fashion into the recess just below
a hole for the spear chipped out by the ancient artisan.
Chocolate jasper w alkali patina, and shiny red jasper
bloodstone (selected by the ancient artisan to fit perfectly)
and rare, green chalcedony (chrysoprase) antlers (with
natural white coating) as if he had mossy antlers, 8 parts; horizontal and vertical.
6.0"L; 784 gm $5100
First, a subtle
shift in projectile point style marks a change in climate and a new phase in Native
American Indian culture. Sometime after 14,000 BP large Clovis spear points
were gradually replaced by the smaller dart points of the new and shorter
atlatl spears. The atlatl used a throwing stick to increase range and
(Though many contend that bow-and-arrow technology began about then.)
Accuracy was important because these people had to adapt to the warming
climate with the influx of smaller game species.
Second, Archaic Indian became mobile with the invention of the canoe. It is
not certain just when the canoe appeared in Native American history, but it
was likely a log dugout type. (We know later Native American Indians burned
and scraped out their log canoes.) We've found many hand axes and wedges
suggesting canoe building. The second-largest percentage of pre-Columbian artifacts we find
are distinctly from the Early Archaic. We believe canoe building marks the
middle of the Early Archaic Period 9,500 years ago. The third-largest percentage
of artifacts we've found however, are more primitive than these Early
Archaic artifacts and may even be pre-Clovis - before Paleo-Indian developed
the skills to chip out the Clovis point. This leads us to believe that these
ancient Pre-Columbian Native American Indian art antiquities might be older
than 13,500 years! Finally, the largest percentage of pre-Colombian
artifacts found in the upper Spoon River valley are from the Middle Woodland
AGO* TECHNOLOGY /
spear point; flaked scraper, uniface blade
Weapon, tool and spousal trade; small hunting parties
point; bifacial blade
Likely group produce gathering
point; serrated blade; drill
point with articulated fluted base
San Patrice Culture
San Patrice notched point
Large hunting parties
Ice-Age) survival employments or repopulation
crescent knife; yurt; canoe; spear fishing;
Copper; beads; fishhooks
Pottery/ceramic art; Wig Wam; squash cultivation
Bow & arrow;
lodge; small mounds; trade
large cities and mounds; extensive trade
(A.D. 1650 on…)
Horsemanship; metal points and blades; firearms
* Ages are approximates and some groups likely co-existed
NOTE: This chart is under constant revision! Compiled
and copyrighted © Steven & Delores Hampton
It may have
been a social statement of status within the group or a means to educate the
young, but even a possession such as an figurine can be burdensome for any
walking human. However, the smaller stone figurines and rock
crystals would have been no problem floating down the river in a large
canoe, and little burden paddling them back up.
It doesn't show it
because of the gleam from the camera flash on the body stone,
but the color on these two stones match perfectly. This
dignified piece resembling an adult golden eagle is big - about
the size of the baby chick in real life. The is head smoother
than the body and so must have been heavily handled. Wear on the
"beak" suggests it may have been used as a pecking stone.
For more raptors see "Thunderbird".
Matching honey jasper w sheen patina head. Tool kit: Bone & nut
cracker and grinder, 2 parts. 5.3"h; 1651 gm $750
BP the winters were still harsh in Illinois. So in autumn the pedestrian
migrating Early Archaic Indian had to leave heavy items behind (at least the
heavy figurine bases). They would stash them on a hill, in a depression
out-of-view, or next to a landmark where they could be easily found the
following spring - before vegetation became too thick. (Remember, in some
parts of the Pleistocene world, rocks of any kind were a rare commodity.) So
these ancient Pre-Columbian Native American Indian antiquities must have
been originally collected from the river sometime after the first big thaw
and flood of the Wisconsinan ice sheet around 15,000 BP but before 11,500 BP
- before the invention of the canoe - and when mammoth still roamed North
Dating the Art
What Happened to the River
Owl Clan? The Illinois State Museum has catalogued mostly Late Archaic
and Woodland points in the northern Spoon River area - with just a
spattering of Mississippian points. So there seems to be a large time gap in
pre-Columbian Native American Indian
artifacts from this site between the very Early Archaic and Late Archaic
Periods. That's over 2,000 years! Why did the clan disappear?
To add to the confusion,
we found “war points” (points M, N and O see
from Site 2601 below) without notches so designed to stay in its victim when
the shaft is pulled out. In contradiction, older Clovis, Dalton and San Patrice
point of the Early Paleo-Indian Period are also designed to stay in prey. But
many of the points found at the site were of the domestic variety - atlatl
hunting darts. These points are notched to stay on the shaft when pulled from
prey for reuse.
Perhaps the war points were designed by the River Owl. But a peaceful society
usually sags in weapons technology. Did a stone-age tribe with higher technology
invade the clan? This seems unlikely, as resources were abundant throughout the
entire region during this period. Eventually, population in the region grew and
conflicts did break out. These points, as it turned out, are from the Late
Woodland Period. So what happened to the River Owl? Did disease take them out?
In order to answer that, we first need to determine the age of these
pre-Columbian art antiquities.
Even the rock
version of the avian is cute - especially when they are little.
This was likely a child's' toy and when wetted has a slight
bluish tinge. To the ancient Native American Indian, animals
that could travel between the basic elements i.e. water to air
(ducks and geese), were special creatures and considered sacred.
Knowing that, it is little wonder this figurine was collected
from the river by Ice Age Indian. Green Pennsylvanian Period slate in 2 parts.
4.1"H; 719 gm $65
First, there is no
known way to date stone within historic context, either by atomic
differentiation of broken surfaces or by radio-carbon dating. So the only
present means of dating stone is by its association with projectile points and
even that is largely guesswork by the classification of point styles.
Since projectile points are much older than our memories, point-typing is a
tricky business. Anyone claiming to be an expert - usually isn't. I have found
many conflicting opinions in types. First, technologies of any type, from record
playing turntables to ipads, can co-exist. Second, variations in styles
can occur by an artist all in one day at the same locale. The best we can do is
to come close to classifying a point. Most of my information however, came from
the Illinois State Museum and Lar Hothem's excellent book Indian Artifacts Of
The Midwest, Book 5.
Ice Age Elk
Every Hunter’s dream – a ruminating stag. To many early tribes of
humans capturing the image of your prey was the first step to
capturing the prey itself – and thus a real Venus mate. However,
early Indians sincerely
respected the animals he hunted and fished. They sustained his
family and a large prize such as bull elk would insure wealth and
status within the clan. This is especially true because at the end
of the last Ice Age, deer and elk stood 7 feet tall at the
shoulders. Like nearly all the other figurines, these stones were
found together. The Elk’s right eye was worked around the socket and
the head was slightly chipped underneath to seat on the body stone.
It may have even held an "eye stone" of some sort. Note polished patina on
head and body; this pre-Columbian figurine was routinely handled or rubbed, maybe
even in animal fat or blood.
Light cocoa jasper w Bone-colored chalcedony antlers, 3 parts. 5.5”h; 538 gm
Atlatl point L (see
next illustration below) has on it what appears to be specks of black pitch on
its far side and if this is the case, it can be accurately dated to within 200
years. But since I don’t have access to carbon dating (the sample may be too
tiny to carbon date anyway) the actual age of this pre-Colombian Indian art was difficult to determine with
certainty. I had to find another way to estimate the age of these antiquities. First, burial depth is the usual means for determining the age of a
relic. However, since farm ground around here has been repeatedly tumbled, soil
layers don’t give us a meaningful time-frame for these relics, so I went online.
My research brought up conflicting results, which means that most established
sources can only guess the approximate age of stone relics from this area. So I
approached the age problem from two fronts:
· Insights into the life of these people by observing the
· The established ruler of age i.e. the technology of points.
First, this was undeniably a creative and uninhibited society as the art speaks
for itself. But, no evidence for copper smelting or pottery has been found at
this site, suggesting that the art was created before 5,000 BP.
Projectile Points from
A Stemmed, Late
Paleo. B Stemmed, Late Paleo. C Un-classified,
probably Paleo-Early Archaic Hardin. D Transitional Clovis (fluted)
Late Paleo-Early Archaic. E Hardin, Early Archaic.
Paleo-Early Archaic. G Side-Notched, Early Archaic. H
Surgical, possibly Early Archaic. I Hardin, Middle Archaic.
J Stemmed, Middle Archaic.
K Kirk, Late
Archaic. L Hemphill, Late Archaic. M
Woodland. N Waubesa, Middle Woodland. O
Stemmed, Middle Woodland.
Paleo-Indian points D and E show gradual employment of
deeper notching. Point G shows more skill in notching by the
following of the vein in the rock, but is still classified as Early
Archaic. Note the large rust stain "birthmark" from the iron-rich
Illinois soil. Point H is believed to be a
Its long tang would facilitate fine control as a scalpel. The tip is
plow damaged. Points I - L display deeper notching
which requires more skill to make but easier to recover after a
kill. Smaller modified point J reveals use of the newer and
smaller atlatl. Points M - O from the Middle Woodland
period: Pearly white chalcedony M has a tapered tang and possibly
used as a spear; points N, O also have tapered tangs
or "contracting stems" for easy re-loading. Apparently it
was easier to knock out a point then to make a straight throwing
archaeological site contained Late Paleo to Early Archaic points when the
Plano culture reigned on the western grasslands as referenced by the Illinois
Also see North American Cultural Timeline.
49. Blue Mallard
This was one of few pre-Columbian figurines we collected
because the stones were beautiful - before we knew they were art
(April 2000). The head of this drake contains a nodule - possibly
holding a crinoid head fossil. To the ancient Native American
Indian, animals that could travel between the basic elements i.e.
water to air (ducks and geese), were special creatures and
considered sacred. Knowing that, it is little wonder this figurine
was collected from the river by Ice Age Indian. Ice blue and white chalcedony, 2 parts.
3.0"h; 290 gm $99
First, there are no
set standards for point dating. Like all technologies, point-making probably
overlapped in types and didn't change very rapidly at first. Also, the crudeness
of a point may be due to inferior materials such as low-grade chert or the skill
of the ancient craftsman.
If this frantic little character dashed across
your path twelve thousand years ago, you would certainly stop and
quietly wait for him to reappear. This dashing fellow is doing just
that, dashing. Wide-open eyes, tail over the back, and limbs in a
flurry, he scurries for cover. This may have been a child’s toy,
though it is larger than the real animal - it’s physically the size
of a baby tree squirrel. The eye is recessed deep enough to hold a
sparkling, smoky quartz crystal recovered nearby. The body stone was
glacier-formed w its tail up over its back, which is how these guys
sometimes run. Almond jasper w high sheen and smoky quartz crystal
eye, 3 parts. 3.8"h; 851 gm $175
craftsmanship aside, many of our points do not have such deep notching and
refined edges, suggesting these points are from the pre Early Archaic.
We've found many from the Middle Woodland Period, probably from passing
So where are the more recent points of the Mississippian Period? After 12 years
searching, we have found few points from the Mississippian. More Importantly, why is there a
year gap between Middle Woodland and the Early Archaic Periods of North
American culture at this hilltop site?
Why did the River Owl leave their primo summer campsite?
Artifacts from Spoon River Site 2601
Paleo & Archaic Points & Knives
Late Paleo Indian Riverstone Hand Tools
Top left to right:
Hornblende tomahawk; flint hand ax; red hematite hand ax; flint hand
Second row: hematite chipper; jasper tomahawk; hornblende
drill; razor-sharp jasper hand ax; flint hand ax.
"Burnt toast" hematite grinding or pounding pestle; flint hand ax;
gritstone sanding stone (note divot in center); jasper tomahawk.
(Note wear and chipping on working surface of tools.)
Since these Native
American figurines had to have been pulled from the clear Spoon River shortly after the
fourth and final ice sheet retreated, and some of the points we've found at the
site are quite primitive, we were able to come up with a definitive age for
these pre-Columbian art antiquities.
This is most likely a
child's toy. Consider the evolution of modern toys and where they
started back in Ye Olden Toy Shoppe's of Europe, and the work that
was involved even then. Now consider Paleo Indian's effort or just
shear luck, in matching up these two stones. They both came from a
parent stone that consisted of zigzagged layers of jasper giving the
bug-eyed caterpillar's body that squirmy shape (as seen from above,
not pictured here).
green and auburn red striated chalcedony, 2 parts. 2.3"h; 133 gm
How old is this art? These pre-Columbian antiquities had to have been recovered from
the Spoon River bed shortly after the last ice sheet retreated sometime after
14,000 BP. There is evidence that a comet may have exploded over Canada just
north of the recovery site around 12,900 years ago. The result was a
catastrophic flood or "Mississippi tsunami" which burst into the Gulf of Mexico
and redirected the warmer currents of the Atlantic. This in affect, plunged the Northern
Hemisphere back into the deep-freeze for another 1,200 years until 11,700 BP
- also known as the Younger Dryas Event.
51. Sitting Duck
Duck, as it is
today, was also most certainly on the menu in the Late Pleistocene, It's
quite possible that stone-age children may have even had pet ducks
for the long summer at Site 2601. This
pre-Columbian female mallard may have been
a child's toy or keepsake. To the ancient Native American Indian,
animals that could travel between the basic elements i.e. water to
air (ducks and geese), were special creatures and considered sacred.
Knowing that, it is little wonder this figurine was collected from
the river by Ice Age Indian.
Umber jasper, 2 parts. 3.1”h; 243 gm $425
explained the exposed glacier stones in many Illinois riverbeds at about that
time. We allowed 200 years as plenty of time to reforest tundra and bottom-up a
river with algae and silt. So unless Paleo Indian was well established in this
region before 12,900 BP, this stone-age art was likely first complied around
11,500 BP - during the very Early Archaic Period.
However, there were
15,000 year old artifact tools found at the Wisconsin mammoth sites and we found
mammoth figurines at site 2601. Since some believe the comet may have wiped out
mammoth in this region, these art antiquities could be 13,000 years or older.
45. Soft-Shell Turtle
This species, now endangered in Canada, can
grow up to 19 inches in diameter - and probably much larger near the
end of the last Ice Age when rivers were clear and free of
pollutants. To the ancient Native American Indian, animals that
could travel between the basic elements i.e. earth to water (such as
frogs and turtles) were special creatures and considered sacred.
Knowing that, it is little wonder this figurine was collected from
the river by Ice Age Indian. Light brown jasper, nodule body, 7 parts. 6.3"L; 372 gm
How long did the
River Owl used this campsite? These people must have returned north each
spring to sites like ours where their ancestors camped when they first came down
into the Americas. And they migrated back up here for many years. We've found
over a dozen different styles of Early Archaic points suggesting the clan may
this summer site for some time. We can only guess how long they returned here.
If a style or technology change occurs every generation, then the clan visited
this site for possibly 200 years - that's 10 generations.
Maybe some of these
pre-Columbian figurines would be left standing, watching over their owner's yurt
plots to be surveyed and inspected upon returning the next spring. Fallen
figurines by wild animal or wind (angry spirits) may have had a negative meaning. This may
explain why the majority of this art was stashed standing, yet hidden in a low
gulley with little runoff and good shelter from prevailing winds.
18. Lazy & Sassy Beaver
Some things never
change. These stones (found together suggesting they are a set)
offer a comic glimpse of married life 12,000 years ago. The
stones on the right (Sassy) have heavy lime and sulfur patina
either from the soil or deposited by the ancient artisan. To the
ancient Native American Indian, animals that could travel
between the basic elements i.e. earth to water (such as frogs,
turtles and beaver) were special creatures and considered
sacred. Knowing that, it is little wonder this figurine was
collected from the river by Ice Age Indian. Lazy:
Chocolate jasper. Sassy: Cinnamon jasper w lime/sulfur patina, 6
parts total. 2.8"h; 474 gm $375 set
What happened to
the clan? The most logical scenario is that a long-term drought deterred the
clan from returning to this site.
After about 10,000
years ago, the climate became drier, and some limited areas of
prairie developed in the Chicago region. This dry period may
have lasted about 1,000 years... 
If the Spoon River flowed too shallow for canoe, their yearly routine would be
broken. Or the comet may have caused their demise. Figurines would be left
standing to be buried by the elements. In either case, in a single generation,
their summer site would be forever lost to the clan of the River Owl.
The River Owl Clan
Summer along the
Spoon River in the late Paleo-Indian period around
13,000 years ago. Stones played a pivotal role in everyday life
and may have been used like writing to express complex concepts.
In particular, shiny and/or colorful stones were highly prized
and traded like fine projectile points. In summer months the
clan would camp along the Spoon to hunt and fish. At site 2601
they left behind a cache of stones that was their art. Graphic
courtesy of Dubose Archaeology Webquest.
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glaciations covered Illinois in the past, the Nebraskan, Kansan, Illinoisan
and a small portion of the Wisconsinan. www.geology.about.com
 America’s Stone Age Explorers, 2004 WGBH Education Foundation
 Prehistoric Indians www.caa-archeology.org/~caamicp/eastside/preind.html
Native Americans www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/nat_amer/pre/html/archaic.html
See the Midwest U.S. 16,000 years ago www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/larson/
 The silent and powerful atlatl is a stick of wood, antler or bone with
a hook on one end that extends the distance and penetration of a thrown dart
(or small spear) by 2½ times. This weapon is so effective; its Paleo
prototype is commonly held to be responsible for the extinction of many ice
age animal species. The Atlatl has been around since 20,000 BP in Europe
(and probably longer) and about 10,000 years in America. It now enjoys a
revived popularity among enthusiasts. Also see www.atlatl.net/article.asp?articleid=3
 Archaeological History – Indian County Wisconsin www.mpm.edu/wirp/ICW-22.html
 "At least in the Great Lakes region of North America, where the bulk of
his (Dan Fisher, University of Michigan) samples were unearthed, mammoth and
mastodon tusks show that these animals continued to thrive, despite late
Pleistocene climate change." Ice Baby, Secrets of a Frozen Mammoth, Tom
Mueller, National Geographic, May 2009, pg 42.
 Technically, they are called “Bannerstones”, see human history article
The Atlatl Weapon by Grant Keddie, the Royal British Museum Columbia
 The clan used willow to
mount tools and weapons as this wood is straight, lightweight and amazingly
strong. The author has replicated tools and weapons using willow growing
near the recovery site.
 To see their sample points, visit Native Americans: Prehistoric:
 “Archaeologists believe that the trend toward small stone projectile
tips, and the shift from making these points with tapered bases, as opposed
to thinner-necked notched bases, is evidence for the replacement of the
atlatl by the bow and arrow. This change in point size and style occurred
most typically around 1,350 years ago, but some researchers argue that the
bow and arrow was introduced earlier in some areas of North America.” Grant Keddie, Curator of Archaeology, Royal BC Museum
 On the one hand, one can argue that this does not mean that there is a
2,000-year gap in artifacts from this area: Nineteenth and early twentieth
century farming was shallow till and may have yielded up many transitional
points that have long since disappeared into American society – traded off
on schoolyards and playgrounds for new glass marbles – or sold at some
estate auction for a fraction of their real value. Such activity would have
gleaned them from the fields. Yet on the other hand, farmers and their
families even just 50 years ago didn’t have the time to actively hunt for
points so the odds should allow at least one Mississippian point to surface
on newly plowed ground.
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