Archeologists literally “dig up” artifacts from the past that help us understand the history of our land dating back thousands of years. Missouri has been part of several important finds. Some have since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places like the Mastodon State Historic Site in Imperial and as National State Landmarks like the Graham Cave Historic Site in Montgomery County. Here are just of few of the interesting artifacts they have uncovered.
1. Jaguar Gorget from Fairfield Mound in Benton County
The Jaguar Gorget is the most recognizable Missouri artifact. It was most likely made during the Middle Woodland period (250 B.C.- 450 A.D.).
2. Bone tool from Boone County
3. Head pot from Pemiscot County.
4. Cahokia point found in Jefferson County
Cahokia points were made between A.D. 900 and 1300.
5. Walls Engraved Bottle
Found in Southeast Missouri, this bottle is from the Mississippian Period (A.D. 800 to 1600) and is 21.5 cm tall.
6. Graham Cave point from Graham Cave
The cave is now a Missouri State Park just off I-70 near Danville. The cave has been excavated between 1949 and 1961 by The University of Missouri and the Missouri Archaeological Society. The site protects Pre-Columbian artifacts from the ancient Dalton and Archaic period dating back to as early as 10,000 years ago.
7. Dalton Point
A beautiful Dalton point that dates back to 8950 - 7900 B.C. One of the oldest known point types in North America, Dalton points normally demonstrate exceptional workmanship.
8. Jesuit Rings
These three brass rings found at archaeological sites in Missouri are examples of Jesuit rings. These rings were used by missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries, possibly as gifts to recent native converts.
On the top ring, the IHS design stands for Iesus Hominum Salvator, meaning “Jesus Savior of Mankind.”
The middle rings’ Double-M design has an inverted M superimposed over an upright M and stands for Mater Misericordia, or “Mother of Mercy.”
The bottom ring depicts a Crucifixion scene.
9. A discoidal from Butler County.
The discoidal is made from granite and is 5.9 cm in diameter. According to arrowheads.com, a discoidal “is a round Mississippian game stone that was used in the ancient Native American game known as chungke or chunkey.”
10. Council ring, Graham Cave
The above image shows the edge of an excavation with layers that have been dated more than 8800 years back. It partially exposes a circle of stones around a larger stone, considered to possibly be a council ring.
11. Turtle Effigy Vessel found at Murphy Mound in Pemiscot County
This turtle effigy is an example of a Cat-monster vessel, which describes a type of pottery where the bowl is the body of an animal or “monster” with carved designs forming the head and tail. These are frequently found in the central Mississippi River valley, and especially in Pemiscot County. The style dates from the Late Mississippian period, after A.D. 1350.
12. Lilbourn Mace found in New Madrid County
The Lilbourn Mace is one of the most unique artifacts found in Missouri. It is Mill Creek chert and measures 40 cm long, 13 cm wide, and 2.3 cm thick. It dates back to the Middle Mississippian period (A.D. 1200 – 1400).
13. A mastodon skeleton on display in the museum at the Mastodon State Historical Site in Imperial
The Mastodon State Historic Site is a 431-acre archaeological and paleontological site with recreational features that preserves the Kimmswick Bone Bed. In the early 19th century, bones of mastodons and other now-extinct animals were first found at this location. As a result, the area became well known as one of the most extensive Pleistocene ice age deposits in the country.
When scientists excavated a stone spear point made by hunters of the Clovis culture (14,000-10,000 years ago) in 1979, history was made. The point was found in direct association with mastodon bones, creating the first solid evidence of the coexistence of mastodons and people. The Kimmswick Bone Bed was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
14. Paddlewheel of the Arabia located at the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City
The steamboat Arabia was a side wheeler steamboat built in 1853 in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. On September 5, 1856, it hit a snag in the Missouri River and sank near Parkville, Missouri. The steamboat and its contents were found in the late 1980s by a team of researchers. We recently posted an article about this site located
15. Cahokia Copper, left figure from Malden
Pictured are three examples of Mississippian culture avian-themed repoussé copper plates. The figure on the right is from Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma, and the middle plate is from the Etowah Mounds in Georgia. The figure on the left is Wulfing plate A, one of Wulfing cache from Malden, Missouri. Many examples of this type of artwork have been found in many states throughout the Midwest and Southeast.
Which was your favorite? I especially love the head pot and the amazing Cahokia copper.
A special thanks to The University of Missouri Museum of Anthropology.