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Comments on Distribution

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Comments on Distribution

A few individual bone objects have already been compared with
similar examples from other areas in the Southwest. The next step is
to widen and systematize this distributional comparison. Dr. Kidder
has remarked that the very unobtrusiveness of bone objects gives them
a peculiar archaeological value. "So modest an art as bonework, with
so unchanging a raw material, should be, however, much more stable
and should help us, if studied as closely as by Mr. Hodge, toward the
solution of many difficult problems."[387] Kidder began an extensive distributional
comparison when working on the Pecos material,[388] examined
many museum collections, amassed much material but became
convinced that the time for a comprehensive study had not yet come.


Page 142]
A fairly thorough examination of the literature in connection with
the preparation of this paper has revealed that insufficient published
material has accumulated since 1932 to make a thorough treatment
possible as yet. However, it seems worthwhile to bring together the
suggestions about the importance and distribution of bone implements
which have been offered by various authorities from time to time.
An attempt will be made to characterize briefly bone implements from
different areas and roughly to indicate dividing lines.

At the Perpetual Fire Site, in eastern Texas, ¾ of the implements
found were flaking tools with a screwdriver-like end which Jackson
remarks are "peculiar to this region."[389] The awls, which comprise 23
per cent of the total objects of bone found, are mostly of the partly
worked splinter type, rather crude and in striking contrast to the well
worked artifacts found in rock shelters in west Texas. This is evidently
a very different sort of bone working complex from that found
in New Mexico and Arizona. A few beads, a gouge, and some cut
bone, as well as a hog tusk awl, were also found.

In the Big Bend region and in the Panhandle, chisels, gouges,
punches, awls, scrapers, sounding rasps, some engraved bones, some
needles, beads, flaking tools are reported, awls being the most numerous.
Pearce and Jackson[390] remark that the Val Verde awls resemble
some of those from west Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, but differ
from those of central, south, and east Texas in size and shape. Coffin[391]
notes that his awls from Brewster County are not different in type
from Arizona and New Mexico examples.

At Lovelock Cave, in central Nevada,[392] more than half of the awls
found were made from scapulae. Loud and Harrington state that in
California awls are made from the cannon bone and ulna of deer and
rarely from the penis bone of marine mammals and the limb bones of
birds. In the University of California collection, from the cliff dwellings
of Utah and southwestern Colorado, over half the awls are made
from the various limb bones of birds. Spatulas, bone tubes, scapulae
scrapers, a flute or whistle, and a good many objects of horn and hoof
were also found at Lovelock. Implements from Pueblo Grande de
Nevada and Gypsum Cave resemble the usual Basket Maker—Pueblo
or Anasazi types.

Steward's work in western Utah[393] shows somewhat different emphasis
from that of the University of California's collection. He found
that the deer leg bone was generally used. As distinctive of western
Utah, he finds antler tips, antler wedges, gaming bones, bone pendants,


Page [143
and splinter awls which tend to be longer than those with the head

In Sacramento County, California, Lillard and Purves[394] found
round, thick, short, spatula-like implements at the bottom of their
oldest site and more slender and better pointed ones toward the surface.
Cannon bones of deer, elk, and antelope were favorite bones, but
pointed awls and needles were also made of the leg and wing bones of
birds. Whistles, carved bone tubes, and several flat implements of
bone were also found. The evidence from this site and from the Emeryville
Shell Mound[395] does not seem contrary to the Loud and Harrington
suggestion. The Twenty-nine Palms region[396] and the southern San
Joaquin Valley[397] seem to be characterized by relative scarcity of bone
objects. The remarkable thing about the northern San Joaquin Valley[398]
is that two-thirds of the objects found were whistles or tubes.
Bone work from this dig was scarce in comparison with that from the
shell mounds but there was quite a variety: skinning bones, fish hooks,
pierced awls and bodkins, carved bone, sea mammal bone, and the
usual assortment of awls.

There seem to be two features which set off Snaketown[399] and the
Hohokam generally from Anasazi and Mogollon cultures. The first is
the general scarcity of bone artifacts. The second is the presence of
bone tubes. Awls and tubes seem to be the only bone objects found.
Too few awls were recovered from Snaketown to determine definite
types for the Hohokam, but several dagger-like specimens (which
Haury suggests might have been worn as hair ornaments) were found
in poor condition with cremations. Several awls, similar to Anasazi
types, are illustrated and an awl found in the Santa Cruz and Sacaton
Phase forms a link with the Mogollon.

Of the bone tubes which occur in great numbers (the early ones
incised and the later ones plain) Haury remarks:[400] "Ornamented bone
tubes do not occur in great abundance in the Southwest. Kidder (A. V.
1932, fig. 220) illustrates a small series from the Pecos, only one of
which is definitely prehistoric and Hodge (F. W., 1920, p. 122) reports
a smiliar condition for Hawikuh. In both of these ruins the majority
of tubes were made of bird bone and were thus smaller in diameter and
longer than Hohokam. Perforation of tubes has never been practiced
by Hohokam."

Carved or incised bone has a wide, though scattered, distribution
in both time and space. Guernsey and Kidder found decorated tubes


Page 144]
in Basket Maker caves in northeastern Arizona.[401] In the "Slab-house"
culture they found a hollow bone tool with parallel grooves on it.[402]
Martin found many implements with engraved handles in the Shumla
Caves in Texas.[403] At the Saddle-Back Ruin, Holden found decorated
bones with grooves cut crosswise.[404] Schenck and Dawson found quite a
few geometric etched lines on objects uncovered in the northern San
Joaquin Valley.[405] Carved bone beads are rather rare, but carving on
bone is a bit more common.

Haury[406] points out, as diagnostic of Mogollon, the side notched
awls which occur along with plain awls and dice in the Mimbres Phase,
the same combination with the addition of burial talismen in Three
Circle, and plain and notched awls accompanied by tubes in the San
Francisco Phase. Nesbit[407] found some of these side notched awls
in the Starkweather pithouse. Roberts[408] found one at Kiatuthlanna
and Haury[409] found several at Harris Village. The most usual
type at Starkweather does not have the side notch. The bone tubes
mentioned by Haury are of both mammal and bird bone, seven in all.
Bone implements seem to be relatively scarce in Mogollon, compared
with the number in Anasazi sites.

In Anasazi sites awls are predominant. In the Basket Maker
and early Pueblo excavations those found are usually made of long
bones of deer and antelope, the chief distinguishing characteristic between
these and later examples being that these awls are, in general,
shorter, stubbier, and look more as if they had been reworked. As has
been suggested by Lillard and Purves, this tendency toward shorter,
stubbier awls, in early periods is, apparently, a fairly general trend.
Beads or tubes, whistles, gaming pieces, and perforated awls are
found fairly generally in these sites. Needles, punches, and flaking
tools, decorated or carved bone and handles for hafting are sometimes
found. Rasp sounders, chisels, scrapers, and objects of antler are
rare. Pendants, flutes, and weaving tools do not seem to occur at all
in this horizon.

Pueblo II has few exceptionally long awls and still has quite a
few short ones. The variety of objects of bone is not very great, in
fact, Bartlett[410] characterizes Pueblo II by things lacking rather than


Page [145
by things found. This lack of variety may partly hinge upon the fact
that so few sites are unequivocally assigned to Pueblo II. Whistles
were found in the San Francisco Mountains region but have not been
reported from elsewhere. No flutes, flageolets, or rasp sounders were
found. Carved bone, turquoise, and other inlays, effigies, bone dice,
weaving tools, spindle whorls, handles for hafting, bone arrows are
all missing from Pueblo II collections. Needles, objects of antler,
and gaming bones are scarce as are rib implements, chisels, and
pendants. Uncarved bone beads or tubes and pierced awls occur in
most Pueblo II sites.

Sites which are Pueblo III and later seem to have almost every
conceivable bone artifact. This is particularly true of Pecos and
Hawikuh. Those excavations which are solely Pueblo III do seem,
however, to have relatively few needles, rasp sounders, flutes, whistles,
gaming pieces, decorated bone, handles for hafting, antler, effigies,
and spindle whorls. The long awls, which distinguish later from
earlier periods in the Anasazi culture, are not the only type found.
They are not even predominant. It is simply that there are numerous
specimens which are longer and more tapering than an awl would be
in earlier periods. Roberts does figure some awls almost 8 inches long
from Shabik'eshchee Village,[411] but awls of that length are much more
common at Pecos.

To consider distribution geographically rather than chronologically
for a moment, can any general statement be made about the
Chaco area? Awls—as in Pueblo archaeological sites generally—
definitely predominate. At Łeyit Kin the proportion (65 out of 80)[412]
was even higher than at mound 51. In Chaco Canyon awls with the
head of the bones intact seem rare, although at Łeyit Kin 14 out of 65
"Awls and Punches" fell in this category.[413] There is a general lack
of wind instruments except for a few whistles. Tubular bone beads
were common in all known time periods and were perforated to make
whistles at Shabik'eshchee Village.[414] Drilled awls and needles are
fairly common. No humerus end scrapers were found at Shabik'eshchee
but they were found in significant numbers in the Pueblo II excavations,
were thought to be of ceremonial importance at Bonito and were
also found at Aztec. Kidder[415] pointed out that these humerus scrapers
were common in late ruins of the Upper San Juan. Roberts[416] calls
them a Pueblo II development. Evidence now suggests that they came
in during Pueblo I or II times and, perhaps, with them came the little
deer phalanx end scrapers.


Page 146]

Thus, from area to area and from period to period, there are some
variations in bone implements. Differences, except when taken by
proportions of occurrence, do not seem to bulk very large. Awls are,
in general, similar because materials and functional restrictions make
this almost inevitable. Examination has shown that variations are
most likely to occur in quantity or relative percentage of types found.
Other factors which, to some extent, appear distinctive are unusual
implements or decorations.


Kidder, 1921, p. 365.


Kidder, 1932, Introduction.


Jackson, 1936, p. 145.


Pearce and Jackson, 1933, pp. 51-54.


Coffin, 1932, p. 33.


Loud and Harrington, 1931, p. 36.


Steward, 1936, p. 29-34.


Lillard and Purves, 1936, p. 14 and Pls. 8-12, and 15.


Schenck, 1926, pp. 213-225.


Campbell, 1931, p. 73-74.


Gifford and Schenck, 1926, pp. 53-54.


Schenck and Dawson, 1931, pp. 349-356.


Gladwin, et al., 1937, pp 154-155, Pls. CXXV-CXXIX.


Haury, p. 155.


Guernsey and Kidder, 1921, pp. 103-105.


Kidder and Guernsey, 1919, p. 154.


Martin, G., 1933, p. 35, and Pl. VIII.


Holden, 1933, p. 48. Mr. J. Charles Kelley informs me (August, 1939) that
incised tubular bird bone beads occur in all foci of the Bravo Valley Aspect.


Schenck and Dawson, 1929, p. 353.


Haury, 1936a, pp. 110-111.


Nesbit, 1938, p. 107 and Pl. 48 c.


Roberts, 1931, Pl. 25 a.


Haury, 1936a, p. 76.


Bartlett, 1934, p. 44.


Roberts, 1929, Pl. 20 a and e.


Dutton, 1938, p. 66.


Ibid., p. 66.


Roberts, p. 131, 1929.


Kidder, 1921, p. 365.


Roberts, 1932, p. 137.