2.1 MB - Electronic Field Trip

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Paleo-Indian
Nomadic hunters (Archaic period)
Basketmakers
Ancestral Puebloans
Cerbat/Pai
Southern Paiute
Tiny animals made of willow twigs were left in
caves high in the walls of the Grand Canyon. Some
figures are plump, others are thin. Some are as big as
eight inches in length; others as small as one inch!
Some have tiny horns on their heads. The archeologists
who have studied these animal figures, called "split-twig
figurines", believe that they were made by members of
an ancient people called the Desert Culture.
The first known
humans were in the Grand
Canyon 10,000 years ago.
In 1932 the first split
twig figurines were found
and dated to be 4.000
years old.
They were
preserved in the redwall
caves of the Grand
Canyon and were part of
the Archaic culture.
Some of the artifacts look like bighorn sheep
and some look mule deer, both animals still
very common in the Grand Canyon today.
The desert Bighorn sheep inhabit
the Sierra Nevada Mountain,
California and south Mexico.
Bighorn sheep live on grassy
mountains, alpine meadows and
foothill country near rocky cliffs
that allow quick escape. Today
Bighorn sheep are extinct from
many states where they originally
lived.
This deer is 4 to 6-1/2 feet in length and 3 to 3-1/2 feet
high at the shoulder. Mule Deer are named for their large, 9
inches long, mule-like ears that keep deer alert for signs of
danger
While the Mule Deer occupies almost all types of
habitat within its range, it seems to prefer arid, open
areas and rocky hillsides.
Mule Deer do not run as other deer, but have a
peculiar and distinctive bounding leap over distances up to
8 yards, with all 4 feet coming down together. In this
fashion, they can reach a speed of 45 m.p.h. for short
periods.
Anthropologists suspect that these
figures were made as part of a ritual
ceremony that was carried out before a hunt,
to ask for the blessings of the animal's
spirits before taking their lives.
Sometimes the finished shape was pierced
with another piece of wood symbolizing that the
animal had been struck by a spear or arrow, and
killed. When the shapes were finished a torch made
of juniper was lit, as part of the ceremony, and the
shapes were placed beneath a rock marker in the
back of a cave.
The figurines were constructed by splitting
willow twigs, using a stone blade, almost to the
base of the twig. The two halves of the split twig
were then wrapped and twisted around each
other to construct the necessary shape.
As more figurines are
found they are studied
and placed in the
museum at the Grand
Canyon and the Native
American cultures and
traditions live on…
Learn how to create your own split twig figurine!!
What does your figurine represent?
Who are you?
Why was it made? (hunting expedition or
religious ritual)
Where will you place your figurine?
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