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Anasazi offerings pg 87
MY ROSETTA STONE MOMENT
Back in the 60s, I used to ride my dirt bike out to some out of the way place I had picked out on a map and then just hike around a little.
On these hikes I always had my eyes out for old sun purpled medicine bottles.
I soon realized that I rarely ever found a whole bottle. Often I would find just fragments of old bottles --- often just halves --- hidden out in rocks or absurdly incongruous circumstances where it made no sense. It struck me that if a bottle broke way out in the middle of nowhere then all or most of the pieces should still be there but they rarely were.
I ASKED MYSELF, WHAT'S THE STORY ON ALL THESE BEAUTIFUL SUN-PURPLED BOTTLE HALVES WAY OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE?
Then I noticed the same weird phenomenon held for 20th century soda pop bottles as well. I would find isolated fragments of 20th century soda pop and beer bottles in the most absurdly incongruous of circumstances.
Then the same thing happened with a couple of Anasazi black on white prehistoric Indian bowls found 400 miles apart.
I'm no pottery expert but anyone can quickly learn to recognize the simple, distinctive black on white Anasazi pottery motif.
The first one I found was out in the Kawich mountains out on Nellis Air Force base where I came across a small clump of isolated pottery fragments laying out on the ground in what archaeologists call a pot drop.
Because of its isolation in a very pristine spot I expected all the pieces should all still be there but when I tried to reassemble them they made up just half a bowl just like the sun purpled 1800s bottle halves.
Then a couple of years later, 400 miles to the south, while riding my dirt bike out in a wilderness area down near Blythe I found exactly the same thing. Out on a very isolated rock outcrop --- nothing else around --- I found pieces of another Anasazi bowl broken in such an out of the way place that I expected most of the pieces to be around but exactly like the bowl half in the Kawich mountains. --- again --- just half a bowl.
First 1800s antique bottle halves. Then modern soda pop bottle halves and now halves of 500 year old Indian bowls all out in the middle of nowhere. How do you explain it? I felt that some strange geological force was at work but I could never figure out what.
THEN I FOUND MY ROSETTA STONE SITE.
My Rosetta stone moment came about a dozen years ago when riding my dirt bike through the sand dunes out on old Sarcobatus flat in central Nevada, the wheels of my dirt bike sliced right next to a flat white stone. I braked and right away saw it was an unshaped prehistoric desert metate (An everyday, expedient stone picked up on the fly to grind grass seed).
You can see my motorcycle track clearly.
I took a closer look and found it was indeed a metate --- but a small piece was missing as if some giant had taken a large bite out of it.
That missing piece was nowhere to be seen on the site
Then close to the white metate I spotted a single fragment of a different black metate.
Above: Black metate fragment with two of three knock off chips nearby. There was no other part of it anywhere on the site.
It seemed to me almost as if a bite had been taken out of different metate somewhere else and then purposely carried onto this site.
Those fragments are representative of a great, ancient American Indian religion and UC anthro has missed it all big time
Then I spotted an oval shaped, white Chalcedony prehistoric stone knife (technically called a 'biface', meaning it was chipped on both sides).
It had been snapped precisely in two but only this single half could be found on the entire site. The other half obviously lay at some other distant place.
Then I spotted , two, very small, dazzlingly sun purpled, 1800s antique bottle fragments lying close together. Each about the size of a quarter.
Close to them was just this tiniest neck of a very different, very small, 1800s green medicine bottle that had been sandblasted into a pleasant kind of translucence.
Then an antique flat bottle base a little larger than a than a silver dollar.
Then an antique glass canning bottle cap split in two.
That's the kind of antique bottle cap that has a ridge to fit a rubber ring used in early glass bottle canning. It is snapped in two in a way that can only be done purposefully.
Then, a large, age darkened, wine bottle base. The kind with one of those deep indentations that cheats you of a little wine.
Then associated with all the rest, an egg sized obsidian pyroclast (black volcanic glass spewed from a nearby volcano) it too was split exactly in half with the broken side up.Once again, the other half was nowhere to be seen.
About 20 miles from this site is an old dormant volcano that once spewed out millions of egg sized globules (pyroclasts) of black glassy obsidian. Obsidian is a highly prized Indian tool stone. This site was too far from the volcano for it to have gotten to the site any way but by human design.
This is a religious clump of similarly split obsidian pyroclasts about ten miles south of the sugar pot site.
Detail: you can see that all pieces are cleaved exactly in half, some with the broken side up. The obsidian source is about five miles to the east.
The one feature that marked the whole site as religious in nature was a small mound of dirt about the size and shape of a large pillow. The dirt mound was covered with maybe 20 or more precisely placed broken stones completely covering it like some ragged brickwork.
Almost all the stones had been broken.
It could have been a child's grave or just simply a religious clump of broken stones.
THEN, THE DEFINING MOMENT.
Behind a bush near the white metate, I found the object that tipped me off to the whole thing.
Here in a religious site bridging the historic and the prehistoric was a most humble wonderful artifact that explained it all to me.
There, I found the most wonderfully humble 19th century, earthenware sugar pot you can imagine, cleaved vertically almost exactly in half. You'd give your right arm for it if found whole in an antique shop.
(Artifacts left out in the desert for long periods of time sometimes dig themselves into the sand as you see above. Probably from the rain.)
This humble 19th century sugar pot half is a clear analogue to the prehistoric black on white bowl halves and antique liquor bottle halves I had been finding out in the middle of nowhere.
The other half was nowhere to be found on the site.
That breakage did not occur from dropping. The pot had obviously been broken by a series of purposeful blows Clear design.
I had suddenly realized that artifact halves and vessel fragments had some mysterious religious connotation and no non Indian but me knew about it.
My Rosetta Stone moment.