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Unsolved Mystery: Origin Of 800-Year-Old Artifacts Eludes Experts (Portland, Oregon)
Columbian.com ^ | 10-6-2002 | Dean Baker

Posted on 10/07/2002 5:12:26 PM PDT by blam

UNSOLVED MYSTERY: ORIGIN OF 800-YEAR-OLD ARTIFACTS ELUDES EXPERTS

Sunday, October 6, 2002
By DEAN BAKER, Columbian staff writer

With almond-shaped eyes and dreadlocked hair, the faces on the 800-year-old clay amulets have been a mystery since they were first discovered on the banks of the Columbia River more than 80 years ago.

Who were these guys who lived around modern Ridgefield at the time Genghis Khan conquered Persia and King John of England signed the Magna Carta?

"They were not Chinook Indians," said David Fenton, executive director of the Clark County Historical Museum.

"Where they came from and where they went is a mystery," Fenton said. "It's really kind of fun to see the archaeologists scratch their heads and not know who these guys are.

"Any attempt to find any kind of smoking gun to identify who they were and how they got here has been unsuccessful for the past 40 years," Fenton said.

The clay carvings of the ancient ones lay largely forgotten in storage at the museum for 36 years. A year and a half ago, archaeologists began to dust them off.

They have been astonished.

These were not American Indians, not European. Their eye shape suggests Japanese or Chinese origin, but their hair is clumped in thick strands like modern Rastafarians of Jamaica.

Scientists have searched the Pacific Rim from the Pribiloff islands to Japan, Korea and China and haven't been able to find a link.

"The critical issue about the ceramics is that we do not know who made them, but whoever it was, it wasn't the more recent inhabitants of the area," said Alison Stenger, an archaeologist with Portland's Institute for Archaeological Studies.

"It's definitely a mystery," said archaeologist Harvey Steele of the Northwest Pottery Research Center in Wilsonville, Ore. "There are no easy answers on this."

The amulets were found on the muddy banks of the Columbia River as early as the 1920s. Since then, the mystery surrounding the people they depict rivals that of the controversial remains of the 9,400-year-old Kennewick man of Eastern Washington.

Castaways from Japan?

Were they shipwrecked sailors from the Orient? Perhaps some unknown tribe?

No one knows. But these early settlers brought with them knowledge that Indians did not have. They built kilns and they made art here for about three generations, then vanished as suddenly as they arrived.

"What perplexed the archaeologists as early as 1964 was there is no record of any tribe in this region having a ceramic tradition -- either creating it or using it. And they actually found evidence of kilns," said Fenton. "So they know these figures were created here."

To the delight of archaeologists, they have come up with some solid clues from the three dozen clay amulets, beads, pots, pipes, pendants and bowls in the museum at 16th and Main streets.

Dated to 13th century

A process called thermoluminescence, a kind of carbon dating used on clay, shows that the mystery artists lived between the flushing channel of Vancouver Lake and the mouth of the Lake River at the Columbia River from around 1210 to 1330.

Were they ancient fishermen or navigators who drifted eastward across the Pacific from the Orient?

"There are several books out that document Japanese fishermen who were blown off course," said Fenton. "They drifted across the Pacific and landed anywhere from northern Washington to mid-Oregon; then they married within the tribes and were assimilated."

For years, the pieces were known as the Shoto clay ceramics, after a theory postulated by German-born American anthropologist Franz Boas, (1858-1942).

The legend of Shoto

Legend held that in the 17th or 18th century, a Spanish galleon wrecked off Neahkanie Mountain in modern Oregon. There were two survivors, including a blacksmith named Shoto, who may have been Japanese.

The story says Shoto taught Chinook Indians pyrotechnology and ceramic firing that they practiced in six villages northwest of modern Vancouver.

Steele knows that at least one galleon each year sailed from Manila to America between 1565 and 1819, carrying beeswax and Chinese porcelain to Vera Cruz and following the Japanese current to Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Mexico.

"It's well known that there were many lost galleons, and it's theorized that as many as five or six wrecked near the Oregon or Washington," Steele said.

Now archaeologists say these ceramics have no connection to that myth, because they were created 400 years before Shoto could have arrived.

One of Stenger's theories is that the amulets may have been related to marriage, with half an amulet staying in the husband's village and half going to the bride's.

"But the more the archaeologists tried to connect this to a native culture, the more they came up empty," said Fenton. "So they're very firm in their belief that this is a pre-culture to the Chinook Indians."

In the 1960s, archaeologists Robert Slocum and Kenneth Matsen excavated sites near the Columbia and found some 300 pieces of "Shoto Clay." They wrote a book about it.

Research continues

It wasn't until about 18 months ago, however, that the Oregon Archaeological Society got involved. Stenger, her late partner Charles Gibbs, Steele and their assistants spent 2,000 hours examining intact amulets at the museum and others in a private collection in Portland. They also discovered new pieces of similar pottery in mixed artifact collections of beads and arrowheads stored at the Vancouver museum since it opened in 1964.

There were many "ah-hah" moments at the museum in recent months, Fenton said.

"They'd look through our arrowheads and say 'Here's another one!'"

While it has some three dozen pieces, the museum probably has only a few of the clay artifacts found in this area since the 1800s, Fenton said.

Some privately owned artifacts have been discredited by modern archaeologists because they were obtained illegally or their discovery wasn't properly documented, Fenton said. Some of these were given to the museum by anonymous donors, he said.

The scientists have been careful not to pinpoint exactly where the finds were made, fearing more illegal digs.

"They've basically trashed the archaeological sites to add to the mystery," Fenton said.

The museum plans to compile a catalog of the clay finds for archaeologists to use around the world. They also plan to make a traveling exhibit for the Pacific Northwest to boost the Clark County Historical Museum's reputation and to raise funds for more collections, Fenton said.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 800; artifacts; godsgravesglyphs; mystery; old; origin; precolumbian; unsolved; year
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1 posted on 10/07/2002 5:12:27 PM PDT by blam
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2 posted on 10/07/2002 5:13:35 PM PDT by Anti-Bubba182
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To: LostTribe
Maybe they ought to talk to this lady, Nancy Yaw Davis:

The Zuni Enigma

3 posted on 10/07/2002 5:16:12 PM PDT by blam
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To: #3Fan; Seeking the truth; JudyB1938; farmfriend; vannrox; PoisedWoman; ValerieUSA
Ping.
4 posted on 10/07/2002 6:40:57 PM PDT by blam
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To: RightWhale; RLK; aruanan; sneakypete; JimSEA; Little Bill; Bernard Marx; William Terrell; ...
Where is everyone? Ping.
5 posted on 10/07/2002 6:51:28 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Where is everyone? Ping.

"I's bein' Simonized," he waxed pathetically.

6 posted on 10/07/2002 7:09:23 PM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: blam
Rahtchere...
7 posted on 10/07/2002 7:38:28 PM PDT by okie01
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To: blam
Muttly's here. He was just digging in the back yard, for some unknown reason. Had an urge.
8 posted on 10/07/2002 7:40:04 PM PDT by PoorMuttly
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To: blam
Here I am. Cool story.
9 posted on 10/07/2002 7:49:13 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: blam
Wasn't the Kennewick Man the ancient human remains that they found on the banks of a river down in Southwest Washington whose genetic origin basicly laid waste to all theories that Indians were the original inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest? Didn't the fedgov then literally destroy the archeological site and forbid anyone from examining the relics and remains found because it would have removed all of the foundation for any Native American "rights" granted lo these last hundred years or so?
10 posted on 10/07/2002 7:59:40 PM PDT by SW6906
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To: PoorMuttly
"Muttly's here. He was just digging in the back yard, for some unknown reason. Had an urge."

LOL. I read and article in my local newspaper that stated that this area has been stable for 28 million years. I just keep thinking there's something around here that is 28 million years old. Keep looking.

11 posted on 10/07/2002 7:59:53 PM PDT by blam
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To: SW6906
YES!


12 posted on 10/07/2002 8:02:11 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
At the rate it's going...I should be under Alabama soon.

...well...once I get around this mastodon with the flying saucer bashed into it.

If I find anything interesting though, I'll let you know.
13 posted on 10/07/2002 8:04:28 PM PDT by PoorMuttly
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To: blam
Thanks for the ping...this is interesting. It reminds me of an amulet my cousin dug up in his yard when he was a kid in Twin Falls, Idaho. I photographed it at the time but I don't know whether it still exists. I'll shoot some digitals of the photos and will get them posted. I don't think it's related to this particular find, but it's definitely different.
14 posted on 10/07/2002 8:04:54 PM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: SW6906
Read The Whole Story Here:

First Americans

15 posted on 10/07/2002 8:06:11 PM PDT by blam
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To: Bernard Marx
"I'll shoot some digitals of the photos and will get them posted. I don't think it's related to this particular find, but it's definitely different."

Outstanding!

16 posted on 10/07/2002 8:07:58 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Could you please put me on your ping list for this sort of stuff?
17 posted on 10/07/2002 8:08:27 PM PDT by Bohemund
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To: SW6906

Spirit Cave Man

18 posted on 10/07/2002 8:09:30 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Bump
19 posted on 10/07/2002 8:12:00 PM PDT by Fiddlstix
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To: Bohemund
"Could you please put me on your ping list for this sort of stuff?"

Sorry, I don't know how to do a 'ping' list and consequently, I don't have one. If you want to start one, I'll alert you everytime I post something like this and then you can ping .

20 posted on 10/07/2002 8:12:09 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Very interesting. Thanks.
21 posted on 10/07/2002 8:16:59 PM PDT by Artist
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To: blam
Could you please put me on your ping list for this sort of stuff? Me too.
22 posted on 10/07/2002 8:25:55 PM PDT by ET(end tyranny)
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To: blam
Great stuff! Will you please put me on your ping list?
23 posted on 10/07/2002 8:26:09 PM PDT by FreeLibertarian
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To: blam
Thanks for the pictures and the links.

A ping list is just a semi-colon-separated list of freepers that you cut and paste into the "To:" box on a reply to a post. This results in those Freepers seeing "New posts to you" on their profile and they can then find the article you are "pinging" them to.

All it requires is your maintaining that semi-colon-separated list of freepers somewhere like in Word or in your email program.....

24 posted on 10/07/2002 8:30:46 PM PDT by SW6906
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To: blam
Kennewick Man Patrick Stewart



Separated at birth...?

25 posted on 10/07/2002 8:39:09 PM PDT by Bear_in_RoseBear
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To: Bear_in_RoseBear
"Separated at birth...?"

Everyone says that, lol.

26 posted on 10/07/2002 8:47:39 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Interesting article! I assume that the amulets have been compared with East Asian Buddhist amulet types (beyond just the style of hair)? The point would be that the hair style might have changed after the Asians coming to America but the amulet type might be similar. Also, even though this is dated prior to the Chinook culture, the Northwest cultures were quite advanced and could have merged with the fishermen after several generations??
27 posted on 10/07/2002 8:54:30 PM PDT by JimSEA
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To: JimSEA
"Also, even though this is dated prior to the Chinook culture, the Northwest cultures were quite advanced and could have merged with the fishermen after several generations??"

That's what I would expect also.

28 posted on 10/07/2002 9:00:16 PM PDT by blam
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why do they assume these were real people? maybe they were just made up, like a lot of other myths.
29 posted on 10/07/2002 9:24:35 PM PDT by KneelBeforeZod
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To: KneelBeforeZod
"why do they assume these were real people? maybe they were just made up, like a lot of other myths.

Because they found real artifacts.

30 posted on 10/07/2002 9:41:40 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
so...Anubis, the wolf headed god is real since he was found on real artifacts?
31 posted on 10/07/2002 9:50:54 PM PDT by KneelBeforeZod
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To: KneelBeforeZod
"so...Anubis, the wolf headed god is real since he was found on real artifacts?"

No. It was real people who made the statues/etchings of Anubis. Anubis may have been a myth but, the people weren't.

32 posted on 10/07/2002 9:54:45 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Because they found real artifacts.

Blam,I THINK he may have meant the amulets were the result of artistic license,and not representative of real people.Maybe this is how they visualized gods or demons?

33 posted on 10/07/2002 10:11:17 PM PDT by sneakypete
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To: sneakypete
"Blam,I THINK he may have meant the amulets were the result of artistic license,and not representative of real people.Maybe this is how they visualized gods or demons?"

I understand that. It wasn't completely what was depicted in the art work, the material (ceramic) itself was unique/foreign to that time/area. The American Indians did not do ceramics. So...who did it?

34 posted on 10/07/2002 10:37:00 PM PDT by blam
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To: Bernard Marx; blam
If you post those pictures, BM, please flag me. I will be most interested in seeing them. In fact, I'll bet everybody on this thread will want to be flagged!

Cool!

BTW, blam ... do you think the dating is accurate? Could it have been earlier when China sent over people to find "the land of the rising sun" - a time when something happened that destroyed the former calendar? Did you ever get Henrietta Mertz' book that explained all of that? I am just sick! I can't find my copy. Boo ..
35 posted on 10/08/2002 1:31:36 AM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: JudyB1938; Bernard Marx


36 posted on 10/08/2002 5:35:03 AM PDT by blam
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To: ET(end tyranny); FreeLibertarian; FreetheSouth!
Ping.
37 posted on 10/08/2002 10:57:59 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Thanks, Blam, for posting these images - even if I can't see them with my browser for some reason. All I get are squares with little red 'x's in them for some reason.

This "amulet" was dug up in the 1960s or 70s by a relative in the back yard of his home in Twin Falls, ID, about a quarter mile from the Snake River. This area was on the route of the Oregon Trail and the region had large American Indian populations and migrations over a long period.

I've done a lot of reading/studying about indigenous populations in the Americas and this object struck me as something unusual. The turban and what appears to be a diadem in its center seem more Asian than Amerind, and the delicate features of the face seem out of place to me. Maybe an expert on the region could identify it in a second or two, but I thought it might be of interest here.

The material (as I recall) was a compact fine-grained stone, maybe even basalt (which is abundant in the area) with some sort of white pigment used to highlight certain areas. It was about two inches long. Unfortunately, the relative in question was just a young kid at the time, digging a cave in his yard, and didn't take note of any scientific features of the find or any associated objects. It must have been found at a fairly shallow depth (although I recall some of the caves I dug at that age were dangerously deep)! I don't know if the thing still exists -- the last time I asked him about it he wasn't sure.

There's probably no relationship with the other items mentioned in this thread. As a matter of interest, this object was found only a few miles from the quarry where the remains of the 10,800 year-old Buhl Woman were discovered in 1989.
38 posted on 10/08/2002 11:25:12 AM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: blam
North America is starting to look like a Dag gone Pre-Columbian "Stop N' Shop"
39 posted on 10/08/2002 11:35:31 AM PDT by Diana Rose
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To: Bernard Marx
Geez...now I can't see them. Who knows. Maybe they have some kind of time out built in???? Bill(blam)
40 posted on 10/08/2002 1:31:01 PM PDT by blam
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To: Bernard Marx
Buhl Woman

Found: January 1989, at a gravel quarry near Buhl, Idaho
Age: 10,600 years
Discoverers: Highway workers
Significance: Having been reburied by Shoshone-Bannock tribes in 1991 before thorough study could occur, Buhl Woman underscores scientists' fears of losing access to ancient Paleoindian skeletons.

Dead before she turned 21, this young woman found a final resting place in a gravel bar beside the Snake River, where windblown sand and silt slowly covered her body. Her right cheek lay atop a pressure-flaked, pointed obsidian tool, perhaps made specially as a grave gift.

In life, Buhl Woman ate abundant bison and elk, as well as salmon heading upriver to spawn. Sloping surfaces and heavily worn enamel on her teeth - unusual for someone so young - indicate that her diet included frequent doses of sand or grit, as if her meat had been pounded or stoneground into a jerky.

Lines of interrupted growth on her thigh bone tell of stress from illness or malnutrition during childhood, but she grew to a height of 5'2" and otherwise enjoyed good health. What caused her death remains unknown.

41 posted on 10/08/2002 1:55:28 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
LOL. I still have them on disk -- if I can find the disk!
42 posted on 10/08/2002 3:11:06 PM PDT by Bernard Marx
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Comment #43 Removed by Moderator

To: blam
Hmmm.
44 posted on 10/09/2002 2:12:27 PM PDT by #3Fan
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To: blam
Thanks for the ping, been out of pocket for a while(mid- terms don't cha' know)
45 posted on 10/10/2002 10:13:09 AM PDT by FreetheSouth!
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To: FreetheSouth!
"(mid- terms don't cha' know)"

I think I remember those, lol.

46 posted on 10/10/2002 10:37:50 AM PDT by blam
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

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Note: this topic is from 10/07/2002.

Thanks blam. :')

Blast from the Past.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
 

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47 posted on 07/11/2011 6:07:37 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Bernard Marx; blam; SunkenCiv; JimSEA; JudyB1938; All

BM I too would like to see the photos when you post them. As to the hair style of the amulets—Weren’t the Chinese making long sea voyages around this time period. Did they perhaps use southeast Asian nigrito people for navigators? The people from Fiji come to mind. What about the sea Dyaks, what do they look like? If the Chinese were as wide spread then as they are now, they could have recruited people from many places. I think they even reached east Africa.


48 posted on 07/11/2011 6:49:53 PM PDT by gleeaikin
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To: gleeaikin

The links are too old. (2002) They don’t work. Any other way of seeing the artifacts?


49 posted on 07/11/2011 6:53:21 PM PDT by sneakers ("Obama is like the dog that chased a car and caught it. Now he doesn't know what to do with it.")
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To: gleeaikin; SunkenCiv

OOPS! I meant to post to SunkenCiv!


50 posted on 07/11/2011 6:54:44 PM PDT by sneakers ("Obama is like the dog that chased a car and caught it. Now he doesn't know what to do with it.")
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