NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, December 15, 2021, online via Zoom, it's the GCAS special holiday meeting starting at the very special time of 6:00 PM. It may not be a “party” in our group's traditional sense, but we anticipate having a slideshow of archaeological images of solstice markers, followed by a slideshow of the AMAZING progress on our new Library and Workspace/Lab in the Wood House at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site, and a reading of Marilyn Markel's annual poem wrapping up the year behind us. If any member has anything they wish to contribute to the fun, be it slideshows, games, announcements, or any etc., please contact Kyle ASAP at . The more the merrier!

NEXT FIELD TRIP = TBA - watch this space for details as they develop.

New Techniques in the Study of Human Remains
Job Opening at Mesa Prieta Petroglyphs Project

Ever Heard of Lithophones?

image from encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.comSome time ago, and during a period of many years, a few archaeologists and various amateur collectors retrieved a number of oblong stone artifacts from the area around and including the Great Sand Dunes National Park in south-central Colorado. Eventually, many of the stones were given to the museum at Great Sand Dunes National Park where they remain stored today. [Photo of Great Sand Dunes artifacts via Archaeology Podcast Network.]

It was not especially unreasonable for archaeologists to first assume that they were an assortment of human-made manos (grinding stones) or some other kind of tool. However, they all seemed unusually large (up to two feet long) and heavy (up to ten pounds), with none of the typical wear patterns of manos. Archaeologist Marilyn Martorano spent over a decade working on the puzzle of what the stones may have been used for, if they were not manos. She recently happened upon an online video of a Paris museum's collection of similar stones that had been recovered in places as diverse as Africa, New England, Hawai'i, and New Mexico. The video demonstrated that these artifacts were not grinding stones at all, but musical percussion instruments - lithophones. (Click on that link to the video above, to hear the stones for yourself. Recommended!)

image from image from www.cpr.orgDr. Martorano tested the Great Sand Dunes stones and determined that not only were they lithophones, but they were so precisely fashioned that each stone has a pair of dead spots so that the stones can be held with the fingers or suspended from a cord while they are played. [Both photos via Colorado Public Radio. Far right photo shows Dr. Martorano (L) and musician Andrea Martorano (R) via Colorado Public Radio.]

One of the Great Sand Dunes lithophones was dated to 5,000 years old, but archaeologists cannot determine the ages of the rest and there is no evidence to indicate who made them. In late 2018, Dr. Martorano added, “...Where did they get the rock to make these? And how old are they? We really don’t know a lot about that because many of these were picked up by collectors.”

Once again, people: for the sake of all of us having the chance to learn much more about our collective past, if you come across an artifact like this or of any other kind, leave it where it is and let scientists study them as-is.

/s/ webmaster



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)