05 September 2011

Joel Castanza documents 37 Point Barrow zoomorphic sculptures from Alaskan archaeological history and identified as possible amulets

Flaked Grey Chert Grizzly Bear Effigy

Length: Snout to Tail 2.82" = 7.14cm
Height: Front Shoulder to Bottom of Front Foot: 1.28" = 3.3cm
Height: Rear Hump to bottom of Rear Foot: 1.44"= 3.61cm
Thickness: .30"
Lithic Comp.: Grey Chert
Distinct hump on the back suggests a grizzly bear
Cultural Association: Birnirk
Possible Age: Birnirk 1,700 B.P.- 600 B.P.
Provenance: Collected by Thomas Kennedy at Pt. Barrow 1883, Sold to Dr. HH Stewart of Eureka Ca., Sold to Gene Favell for the Favell Museum in the 1970's.
This item was de-accessioned in 2004. Purchased by Lummi Trading company, then sold to me (Joel Castanza) in early 2008.



(click photo to expand)

Above text and photographs courtesy of alaskanartifacts.com, Mr. Joel Castanza.  This is greatly appreciated by portablerockart.com.

A Russian book, "Early Art of the Northern far East" on Siberian portable rock art has been published in English by the US Park Service and Russian Shared Beringia Heritage project. It may help provide an old world precedent for iconographic North American artifact material such as Joel Castanza has thankfully brought to public attention. A link to a book sample is found here:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/early-art-of-the-northern-far-east-the-stone-age/oclc/313729350/viewport

1 comment:

  1. I thought you might like to know that we have several of these "amulets" that are nearly identical to this one in the collections from Pt. Barrow that were made during the International Polar Year in 1881-1882 by John Murdoch for the Smithsonian and now housed in the NMNH's collection storage facility at Suitland, Maryland. In addition to bears there are chipped stone dogs and human figures as well as several bowhead whales. The bears, humans and dogs are all made with the same local grey chert while the whale amulets are made of glass and a red jasper. The chipped stone amulets are described in Murdoch's Ethnological Results of the Point Barrow Expedition (1892) --but readily available in a reprinted edition. I am pretty sure that these are contemporary artifacts in use, or only recently abandoned, in the late 19th century.

    Stephen Loring, Arctic Studies Center, SI

    ReplyDelete