Paleo Indian Art
Pre Columbian Art
Spirit Animal
Medicine Man
Dream Catchers
Prehistoric Venus
Ice Age Animals
Paleo Points
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Woodland Points
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Axes Celts Tools
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Ancient Pre-Columbian Native American Indian antiquities fine figurine art for sale: Potawatomi figurine

North America

Pre Columbian Art

Pre Columbian Art - Medicine man head

Indian Maiden - 1/2 OFF PRICE

Old Red Man - 1/2 OFF PRICE

Stacking stone art existed 10,000 years before the Mayans rise above the Yucatan jungle.

Updated with more artifacts: 09/14/2021

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In this Chapter: 

Illinois Pre-History > Shangri-La Climate > The People > TimeLine > Dating the Art > Their Demise


Illinois Pre-History

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.[1] 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 Native Americans.[2] However, genetic markers found in Native Americans of various tribes point more towards Asian ancestry. Even more recent findings[3] suggest that humans came to North America as far back as 50,000 years ago!

The Ages of Man. The most convenient form of Pre-Columbian Indian art was pulled from the crystal-clear rivers shortly after the melting glaciers washed them clean.

The 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.[4]

Shangri-La Climate

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.[5]

By analyzing 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 earth:

Following the 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.

This 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 winter.[5]

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.[6]

Star Eyes Baby. Carnelian agate with sparkling clear quartz crystals in the head stone for eyes may have made this Indian art a priceless representation of a mother’s love for her toddler. Pre-Columbian Indians collected Spoon River stones to make figurine art and some statues are for sale.15.  Star Eyes Baby

Infantis oculatus sidereusa


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 

SOLD to Ken

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.[7] 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 abundant.

Newly discovered prehistoric Native American Indian antiquities and figurine art suggest that surgery and the use of iron is older than previously thought !

What Happened 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.[8] 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.[9] 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 vegetation.[5]

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. [5]

After the 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?)


ATTENTION: 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.

The People

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.[10] Early Archaic Indians (or Late Paleo Indians) came into the region to hunt small game with atlatl spears[11] 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 WolfRunning Gray Wolf. Carbon from ancient decayed sea-life, along with swirling patterns of glacier-cuts on the body stone and the realistic streamlined head makes this ancient Pre-Columbian Indian art spring to life.

Canis dirus

Tail pointed down and back, this pre-Columbian 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  $2700 

In summer months the Missouri/Arkansas people would migrate north into this area by foot to hunt deer and elk.[12] There is also evidence that a few mammoth may have still been around.[13] 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 Great North.

Purple Duck is a rare amethyst Pre-Columbian Indian antiquities fine figurine art and is for sale.115.  Purple Duck

 Anaticula amethystus

This rare 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 climate.[5]

Sometime after 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.

Wounded Stag. The antlers are a rare pale-green chalcedony known as chrysoprase with natural white coating, giving the stone the hue of real antlers on this ancient Pre-Columbian Native American Indian antiquities fine figurine art. Wounded Stag. Few ancient Native American Indian art objects display such detail as this collection of stones found at site 2601C. Ancient Pre-Columbian Native American Indians collected Spoon River stones to make figurine art and some statues are for sale.

26.  Wounded Stag

Megaloceros giganteus

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 improve accuracy.[14] (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 Indian Period.


           PERIOD                      YEARS AGO*                                 TECHNOLOGY / SOCIETY
Ice-Age Indian

50,000 - 16,000

Stone spear point; flaked scraper, uniface blade

Early Paleo-Indian


Weapon, tool and spousal trade; small hunting parties

      Clovis Culture 16,000 - 14,000 Clovis point; bifacial blade
Middle Paleo-Indian - Likely group produce gathering
      Dalton Culture 14,000 - 13,600 Dalton point; serrated blade; drill
      Folsom Culture 13,600 - 13,400 Folsom point with articulated fluted base
      San Patrice Culture 13,400 - 13,200 San Patrice notched point
Late Paleo-Indian - Large hunting parties
      Plano Culture 13,200 - 12,900 Rectangular blade; suicide herding
Younger Dryas Event 12,900 - 11,600 (Mini Ice-Age) survival employments or repopulation
Early Archaic 11,600 – 8,000 Atlatl; crescent knife; yurt; canoe; spear fishing; burial
Middle Archaic 8,000 – 5,500 Articulated points; woodworking; fish trap; jewelry
Late Archaic 5,500 – 2,500 Copper; beads; fishhooks
Early Woodland 2,500 – 2,200 Pottery/ceramic art; Wig Wam; squash cultivation
Middle Woodland 2,200 – 1,800 Net fishing; masks; carved figurines
Late Woodland 1,800 – 1,250 Bow & arrow; lodge; small mounds; trade
Mississippian 1,250 – 550 Corn cultivation; large cities and mounds; extensive trade
Proto-Historic 550 – 350 Tee-Pee
Historic < 350 (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.

Golden Eagle. This “Maltese Falcon” is more than just a figurine. It is a functional tool kit and the wear tells its story. Ancient Pre-Columbian Native American Indian antiquities and fine figurine art for sale.59. Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

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 

Around 11,500 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 America.


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 Projectile Points 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.[15] 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.

Green Duckling is a Pre-Columbian Indian antiquities fine figurine art and is for sale.116.  Green Duckling

Anaticula viridans

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   SOLD  to Ken

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 Elk21.  Ice Age Elk

Megaloceros giganteus

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  $4700 

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 art.

    · 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 Site 2601. Indian arrowheads and knives were found near many of the recovered Pre-Columbian Indian antiquities art.Projectile Points from Site 2601

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. 


F Etley, 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 Waubesa, Early-Mid Woodland.  N Waubesa, Middle Woodland. O Stemmed, Middle Woodland.

Notes: 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 surgical blade. 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 stick.

Second, our archaeological site contained Late Paleo to Early Archaic points when the Plano culture reigned on the western grasslands as referenced by the Illinois State Museum.[16] Also see North American Cultural Timeline.

Blue Mallard. Duck was certainly on the menu near the end of the last Ice Age. But ducklings also make cute and loyal pets for the young.49.  Blue Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

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 

Estimated Age

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.

Chipmunk. Adorable is adorable, no matter what epoch you live in.17. Chipmunk

      Eutamias minimus

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 

Individual 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 hunting parties.[17] 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 3,000 year gap between Middle Woodland and the Early Archaic Periods of North American culture at this hilltop site?[18] Why did the River Owl leave their primo summer campsite?

Indian Artifacts from Spoon River Site 2601

Projectile Points from Site 2601. Indian arrowheads and knives were found near many of the recovered Pre-Columbian Indian antiquities art.

Paleo & Archaic Points & Knives

Projectile Points from Site 2601. Indian arrowheads and knives were found near many of the recovered Pre-Columbian Indian antiquities art. 

Late Paleo Indian Riverstone Hand Tools

Top left to right: Hornblende tomahawk; flint hand ax; red hematite hand ax; flint hand ax.

Second row: hematite chipper; jasper tomahawk; hornblende drill; razor-sharp jasper hand ax; flint hand ax.

Last row: "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.

Caterpillar. A long squiggly-shaped bug with a cute face only a butterfly – or Indian child – could appreciate. Recovered near Pre-Columbian Indian figurine art.20.  Caterpillar


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). Olive green and auburn red striated chalcedony, 2 parts. 2.3"h; 133 gm  $39   SOLD to Ken

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.

Sitting Duck. This “toy” bird was found near prehistoric Pre-Columbian Indian art antiquities.51.  Sitting Duck

Anas platyrhynchos

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 

This would 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.

Soft-Shell Turtle. Pre-Columbian Indian horizontal figurine art from Ice Age antiquity may have been preludes to the game of craps – luck is often associated with hunting.45.  Soft-Shell Turtle

Apalone spinifera

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  $1950  



Their Demise

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 have kept 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.

Lazy & Sassy Beaver. This Pre-Columbian Indian antiquities art represents more than what just appears to be beaver. At the time this art was first assembled, Giant beaver provided ice Age Indian with soft luxuriant robes the size of modern quilts.

18. Lazy & Sassy Beaver

Castoriadae canadensis

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... [19]

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. Pre-shaped stones were apparently used as art in Ice Age Pre-Columbian Indian society.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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[1] Four glaciations covered Illinois in the past, the Nebraskan, Kansan, Illinoisan and a small portion of the Wisconsinan. www.geology.about.com

[2] America’s Stone Age Explorers, 2004 WGBH Education Foundation

[3] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041118104010.htm

[4] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/stoneage/clovis.htm

[5] http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/410.html

[6] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3318932/How-forests-wiped-out-woolly-mammoths.html

[7] http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/i&m/CORRIDOR/geo/geo.htm

[8] http://www.livescience.com/animals/070521_comet_climate.html

[9] http://www.nola.com/national/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1193981665115410.xml&coll=1

[10] 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/

[11] 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 and www.anthro.mankato.msus.edu/prehistory/ancienttech/atlatl.html

[12] Archaeological History – Indian County Wisconsin www.mpm.edu/wirp/ICW-22.html

[13] "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.

[14] Technically, they are called “Bannerstones”, see human history article The Atlatl Weapon by Grant Keddie, the Royal British Museum Columbia Museum www.rbcm1.rbcm.gov.bc.ca/history/atlatl

[15] 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.

[16] To see their sample points, visit Native Americans: Prehistoric: Archaic www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/nat_amer/pre/htmls/a_weapons.html

[17] “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 www.rbcm1.rbcm.gov.bc.ca/history/atlatl

[18] 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.

[19]  http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/410.html

Also see http://www.nativeamericantraders.com

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