These strange rocks, along with arrowheads and other Indian artifacts, surfaced from a washout on a hill-top field overlooking the Spoon River in Illinois. (The Spoon River has over 2,600 known archaeological sites, two of which flank the discovery site.) Groups of two, three or more stones - of the same color or material - stack to make plausible figures with animal- or human-like features. Though these odd-shaped rocks are natural smooth river stones, many show signs of being meticulously worked so that they could be stacked.
I don't think there is another (Ice-Age American Indian art) collection in the world like yours. Richard, OH
Most compelling of this Ice-Age American Indian art are free-standing effigies of men and women, some sitting as if in mediation – probably representing medicine men or chieftains. Also found were animal figurines i.e. coyotes, beaver, owls, turtles, fish, snakes, ducks and geese, elk, bear, cougars, and thunderbirds. We know these figures are ancient because extinct Ice Age animals such as mammoth, American lion, short-face bear, wooly rhinoceros, stag moose, Ice Age camel, and Saiga antelope were also represented (See Figurine Index).
Stone age man believed that capturing the image of his prey, he captured its spirit, making the animal easier to catch. (Even until very recently, Native North American Indians considered being photographed bad medicine.) But more striking of this Ice Age American Indian art were human fertility figures – both female and male - and probably representing Shamans and exotic Venuses. There were human organ-shaped stones of realistic color, possibly used in homeopathic / sympathetic medicine. Some of these figurines had evidence of dual functions and served as tool kits.
The evidence detailed in the following pages leads us to believe these ancient Indian artifacts are from the Late Paleo Indian to very Early Archaic Indian Periods of Native American culture in North America near the end of the last Ice Age. This is also known as the Upper Paleolithic Epoch or "Stone Age" proper in Europe, in particular the Magdalenian Culture when most cave paintings were first thought to have been created. This period was also characterized by artifacts such as willow points, bone tools, stone implements and stone points - but before the invention of pottery, beads, bone fishhooks, and the bow-and-arrow with small arrowheads. These Indian artifacts were collected around the time Göbekli Tepe was erected in southern Turkey - believed to be the first religious temple - built by Stone Age man with stone tools. The lance or spear was the principle long-range weapon. A short-range spear, throwing hammer and possibly the 2-string slingshot may have been used for smaller prey. (However, some archaeologists contend the bow and arrow were already in existence in Africa.)
It has long been known Native American Indians stacked stones to mark paths, ceremonial places and used stones to make petroforms. Stacking stones makes a statement. Why could they not also depict a concept? Throughout man's history stone have been use for artistic expression. Totem poles may be residual expressions of Paleolithic times when Native American Indians stacked stones. The "casting of stones" used to predict the future in some early cultures, may have been based on original Ice Age American Indian art like the horizontal figurines in our collection.
Anthropomorphic stones like ours are being discovered World-Wide 
These mysterious Indian artifacts are stones originally scraped-up from Devonian bedrock, crafted and carried down by glacier. During the Big Thaw flood, they were washed out of the moraines and tumbled down several riverbeds throughout Illinois and turned into polished cobbles and stones. The receding waters panned out the riverstones with similar specific gravities into groups of eddy pockets in the clear Pleistocene riverbeds. The Paleolithic Indian people of this site, we named the River Owl, selected the stones that formed these meaningful statuettes.
These free-standing figurines are unique and very rare Indian artifacts. You can't just go down to a river and collect a bunch of rocks that match and come together to make a meaningful and non-abstract statement. First, the rivers in this region haven’t been “clear” for thousands of years. What makes these stones so unique is after two-centuries of farming and erosion, Ice Age riverbeds have been filled-in with so much silt that finding such otherwise perfectly matched stones would now be impossible.
Neither could we have sorted out such beautifully matched stones with patina from a quarry, gravel pit or a thousand random washouts. So why were groups of matching river stones of varying specific gravities, near a site where arrowheads are found, buried high on a hill overlooking the river? How is it possible to find such matched stones together in the first place? Where did they come from - and who put them there?
The following pages are based on a white paper we published at the Illinois State Museum in 2004. Here, we have elaborated on that paper and hypothesized who these mysterious people were and why they created - and left behind - this intoxicating ancient Ice Age American Indian art.
Next Page: More of these ancient Ice Age Indian Artifacts ...
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Last Updated: 10/18/2013