[meteorite-list] artifacts and meteorites

From: Donald Blakeslee <blakesle_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:37:31 2004
Message-ID: <>

Many thanks to those who have responded to my request so far. If anyone
has more information on the Kenna meteorite and the find at an old Caddo
village, I would appreciate it. The rest of what follows is an attempt to
avoid grading term papers while sharing some information with you folks.

James Tobin noted that with a meteorite or two every square mile and at
least as many archaeological sites, the odds of the two sometimes ending up
together by accident are pretty good. You can add to that an observation
made by Steve Schoner that when you see artifacts on the surface, you are
looking at an old surface, one which has had time to accumulate meteorites.
 This is one small part of the problem facing me in trying to document the
Native American uses of meteorites. I have a list of transports and
possible transports, meteorites from deep in archaeological sites and some
that are only from the surface, meteorites from outside archaeological
sites that are known to be religious shrines and some that look like they
could be shrines, meteorites seemingly associated with indian trails, etc.
What I am doing now is just trying to compile a list of all of the likely
suspects, but I understand that some of them will be false positives. How
to sort them out? Dunno yet, but I'm working on it.

In the meantime, in case you're interested, here is my list of Canyon
Diable transports

Name Weight (kg) Location Prehistoric?
Albuquerque 0.16 35 106 50 doubtful, 2ndhand dealer
Ashfork 27 34 53 111 37 suspected
Bloody Basin 5.2 34 10 111 43 yes, in a house
Camp Verde 61.5 34 34 111 51 yes, in a burial
Ehrenberg ca 2 33 31 114 32 yes, near a trail
Fair Oaks 0 .8 34 44 112 44 1937, allegedly
Ganado, AZ 38.9g 35 43 109 34 traded by a Navajo prior to 1938
Houck 66.7 35 16 109 16 probably, 1927
Las Vegas 3.04 30 mi NE Las V Buchwald doubts
Moab 19.5 38 3 110 19 3 Buchwald doubts
Oildale --- --- ---
Old Walpi, AZ x pieces get In a burial
Palisades Park .12 35 6 101 52
Rifle 102.7 39 31 107 50 Buchwald doubts
Wickenburg 0.25 33 58 112 44
Also at Canyon Diablo are pit houses dating to twelfth century on south
slope of the rim. I need to find out whether that high and dry loction
would be unusual for pit houses or whether they might be shrines. Clearly,
the Indians understood that the crater was a source of meteorites long
before Barringer.

The recent lawsuit involving the Willamette meteorite is certainly
interesting. The original lawsuit involved the finder versus the landowner
(a mining company). The finder had moved the meteorite onto his own
property before announcing the find -- a neat trick considering he had only
his 15 year old son to help him. But he got caught, and the mining company
sued. The Indian testimony was on behalf of the finder, because at that
time Oregon law allowed finders of Indian relics to keep them, landowner be
damned. The court, however, ignored the Indian witnesses who said it was
sacred and included it with the mineral rights to the land. My own
research shows that the statements of the ndian witnesses were very much in
keeping with the practices of other tribes with respect to different

The out-of-court settlement awarding joint custody seems very reasonable.
I hope it will be a model for other cases that are sure to come. The most
obvious candidate is the Iron Creek meteorite in Canada. It was a shrine
and for that reason was taken, over the quite vocal protests of Crees and
Blackfeet, by a methodist missionary so that the Indians could no longer
worship at this pagan shrine. Another case is the Wichita County
meteorite, taken by the Indian agent against the wishes of the Comanches.
Then there are all the meteorites from burial sites, some of which have
probably been returned by now.

Others may or may not have been regarded as sacred, which was sort of a
sliding scale among Native Americans. Just about anything might be
declared sacred by somebody. It reminds me of the Robin Hood movei -- the
bad one with Kevin Costner [not] acting the part of Robin Hood. Weh the
gang of Merry Men demand a pendant as a toll, he replies that it was his
father's and is sacred to him. And Little John replies, "Well, it's sacred
to us too. That thing would buty enough food for a whole month."

So, what to do. I'm not suggesting that anybody dig in an archaeological
site hoping to find a meteorite; I'm just trying to find out how many might
have been found on sites.

Two more minor points. I just finished reading a paper on ancient uses of
meteorites which says that ancient folks (Egyptians, Babylonians, etc.) did
NOT call meteoric iron "metal of heaven." Just the opposite. The ancient
Egyptians did use that pharase, but only after they began to get
terrestrial iron from the Hittites did they use the prhrase "Metal of
Heaven." Earlier iron is of meteoric origin, but they called the
terrestial iron "Metal of Heaven." The article is by Judith Bjorkman,
Meteoritics 8: 91-130.

So the metal of heaven is a myth. Is the fire set by the meteorite in New
Hampshire also? Most of the professionals I have talked to dismiss out of
hand the possibility that meteorties ever set fires on impact. I'm not
convinced, yet. They reject a whole lot of stories about meteorites being
hot or incandescent oat time of impact. It'll be interesting to see if the
New Hampshire object turns out to be a new fall or not.
Received on Tue 05 Dec 2000 04:44:19 PM PST

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