Other archaeologists  may take umbrage at my reference to Archaeology as a disappearing science.  I think the facts are obvious...and on my side.  As we sit here, changes (both positive progress and destructive carelessness)  are destroying  evidence of prehistoric life.  It is doubly sad because at the same time great technological advances could greatly advance the study of previous civilizations.  Earthworks, structures and burials have been destroyed both here and abroad.  Progress it is called and it is a difficult  thing to oppose merely for investigative goals.

Archaeologists are in controversy by the very nature of their science.  By definition, prehistoric times are those periods for which no oral or written history is available.  It is a science of puzzle solving...only the solver usually only has a few of the pieces of the puzzle.   Learning, scientific analysis, conjecture, reasoning and experience will lead the archaeologist to conclusions...conclusions that often attract disagreement from other scientists.  No matter what, the archaeologist is still trying to decipher the looks of a finished puzzle while having only a few pieces to examine.


THE DIFFICULTY FACED BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS:


Here is your only puzzle piece.  Any guesses as to
the final picture?

With a few more pieces you see where the first
piece fits.  Guess?

Well, as you can plainly see, the picture changes
when more is learned.
 

WE ONLY HAVE A FEW OF THE PIECES OF MOST PREHISTORIC PUZZLES AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT.  Governments, developers, natural disasters and treasure hunters are destroying evidence of prehistoric cultures every single day.

 
 
BURIAL AND CEREMONIAL MOUNDS WERE ONCE LOCATED ALL OVER NORTH AMERICA.

... 

                                                                                                                  ...

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                 

Looters have competed with a spreading population in destroying prehistoric mounds and artifacts.

Elaborate earthworks were once found across the continent. They may have been used for ceremonies, spiritual events, as astronomical observatories, calendars or for purposes we may never understand.

  

...
 


    ...



Upper photos:  The Newark Earthworks.  Some of these perfect geometric designs (perfect squares, circles and octagons) contained 50 acres of land.  You cannot discern the shapes from the ground.  Next: Seip Mound.  Lower: Serpent Mound.  This is one of many effigy mounds found throughout the continent.  It is a quarter mile long model of a snake which appears to be swallowing an egg like object.  It can be seen to be an observatory depending on where you stand and how you view the heavens.  The native people who lived here at the time of the  European incursion did not even know the snake was there let alone its purpose.  One theory I have devised explains the effigy as a warning and a record for  future civilizations.  The creators of this earthwork disappeared.  Could they have simply died off due to diseases that prevented them from procreating.  The egg often represents fertility and snakes are often symbols of evil. This may have been an attempt to appease an evil spirit or to announce to  others who followed what had happened to them.  There are diseases that rob humans of fertility and there could be plants that may have accidentally served as birth control medicines.  In any event, these people who built these things disappeared and left these records.  At the very least, the existence of the giant earthworks and effigies prove their builders had well organized societies.  Isn't a serpent holding something that may be an apple an interesting thing for Christians, Moslems and Jews to consider given their scriptures.  The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints has some interesting teachings about America before European conquest.  These ideas are chronicled in The Book Of Mormon.  A number of people find places such as Serpent Mound to be very powerful places of spiritual power.  Further to our south are fantastic stone pyramids, structures, elaborate drawings (such as  the Nazca lines in Peru), and stunning cities such as  Machu Pichu.  One thing all prehistoric items in the world have in common is the destruction they face.  Time indeed, is running ou



 
ARTIFACTS...Our main sources of information about the past comes from the man made objects we find.  The uses of all of these objects are subject to interpretation and debate.  In many ways, Archaeology is not a "hard" science.
......
Commonly called celts by modern collectors, these may well have been multi purpose tools of ancient people.  This particular artifact
shows wear marks and damage suggesting it could have been used as a wedge for splitting wood, a hatchet head and a hide scraper.

                                                                                           
 These may have been cutting blades and knives.  Artifacts like these have been found over and over,  indicating
they were popular designs.  Made of flint, the largest item has serrated edges and may have been used to process meat.

                                                                                              

The two objects to the left may have been drills.  The object at the bottom and the one at the right may have been spear points.  The item at the top may have been a scraper of sorts.  Often called a blunt by modern day collectors, it was theorized that they were arrowheads designed for hunting birds...the blunt end preventing the arrow from becoming impaled in a tree.  I believe the weight of the object would prevent it from being an arrowhead.  Looters and collectors often call many of the objects on this page "arrowheads" even though most are far too heavy to be used as such.  The round object is of questionable use and origin.  If authentic, it could have been jewelry, a game stone or a weight/counter balance for some other tool.


                                                                                                     
Often called cupstones, these objects show wear that  may indicate they were held in the palm of the hand to stabilize a bow
drill or fire starting device.  Certainly friction would have been a real problem for someone drilling a hole or starting a fire.

                                                             ...
Odd little pieces!  The object on the left may have been an engraving tool or a tool for making tattoos.  The other object is
well crafted and the perfect size to be an arrowhead.  However, when you turn it sideways you discover that it is curved! 
Possibly it was attached to a wooden stem and used as a tool for removing the edible portions from various nuts.

                                                                                               
                                                                                                A hatchet head?  Scraper? Garden hoe?

                                                                           
Often just called points or arrowheads by collectors and looters, the three small items are modern day reproductions or fakes. 
The artifact at the bottom is authentic and believed to be over 6000 years old.  Its shape and size suggest it was a spear point.

                                                             
                                        Pottery shards.  Note the white flecks.  These are tiny pieces of shell used to temper  the
                                        pottery.  Ancient pottery gives the appearance of being both functional and decorative.

                                                                  
                                                                    Elaborate designs are located on the inside of this bowl!

                                                                                           
                                     Mica!  Early American civilizations must have had elaborate trade networks.  Materials such as
                                     various flints,  mica and obsidian are found sometimes thousands of miles from  their natural location
                                     of origin.  Throughout North America, Native Americans apparently cultivated corn...a product
                                     that probably originated in Central America.

                                                                               
                                                           Deer antlers were possibly used to "pressure flake" flint into its various functional
                                                           shapes.  Tiny flakes of flint are found by the thousands at archaeological sites.

 

                                                                                    
                                  A photo from a newspaper article about my work and a particular "dig" I directed.  In the interview I tried
                                  to stress the fact Archaeology is a race against time.  Looters, collectors and developers have obliterated many
                                  potentially informative sites.  It is now obvious that we will never have a complete picture of prehistoric times.

 

© Copyright Bill Stockland
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED