Three maces, bird track and ballpayer petroglyphs photographed in 1979.
Three mace petroglyphs photographed in 1979.
Two bird tracks (in the foreground) and three mace petroglyphs (in background) photographed in 1979.
Mace and associated pits photograph on the afternoon of 2 April 2016 at Washington State Park.
Drawing of the mace and associated pits from the display at Washington State Park.
I believe that the Native American oral traditions, especially among the Osage, have not been fully utilized by the archaeologists trying to interpret Mississippi Period and Post-Contact Rock Art in the Ozarks region. Archaeologists working in Arizona have found that real history is embedded in the oral traditions of the Hopi, Zuni, Hualapai, and Navajo (Anyon et al. 1996:14-16). I am using the Osage Dictionary of Francis LaFlesche (1932) to postulate possible words for the petroglyphs imagery (somewhat in the fashion of epigraphers working with ancient Maya glyphs and modern Maya dialects). Other word choices in Osage are also possible. At least the Osage phrases remind us that the petroglyphs were made by non-English speaking artisans. It is possible that the artisan spoke Chickasaw and not Osage, but the iconography and oral history point towards the Osage.
A traditional, conservative analysis of the site was written
by Diesing and Magre (1942:8-15). O'Brien and Wood (1998) do not offer
an analysis of the site in their recent synthesis of Missouri Archaeology.
Chapman (1980:229, Figure 6-5) places the site in the Ware Phase and illustrates
the photograph of his comparison with the chipped stone maces from Spiro
Mound (Hamilton 1952:Plates 38 and 39), but basically ignores the site
in his two volume publication. Carl and Eleanor Chapman illustrated examples
of the petroglyphs from the site in Indians and Archaeology of Missouri
(1964:79). They (specifically Eleanor?) offered the following explanation
for function of the site in their popular account:
"The Washingtron State Park petroglyph site was probably the junction of game trails and war trails, and was possibily a consecrated spot where young men were initiated into secret society rites and were taught the mythology associated with the initiation. The rock carvings may have been memory aids for songs and rites that were part of the ceremony. The symbols probably had magical as well as religious meaning, and participation in the ceremonies at the sacred spot could have been the means of imparting the powers of the symbols to the participants."
Carol Diaz-Granados and Jim Duncan (2000:113) analyzed aspects of the Washington State Park Site in their recent study entitled The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri. They identified the following themes in the rock art at the site: Ceremony, games/sport, myths/oral tradition, fertility, and narrative.
Anyon, Roger, T. J. Ferguson, Loretta Jackson, and Lillie
1996 Native American Oral Traditions and Archaeology. Society for American Archaeology Bulletin 14(2):14-16.
Burns, Louis F.
1984 Osage Indian Customs and Myths. Ciga Press, Fallbrook, CA.
Chapman, Carl H.
1980 The Archaeology of Missouri, II. University of Missouri Press, Columbia.
Chapman, Carl H. and Eleanor F. Chapman
1964 Indians and Archaeology of Missouri. University of Missouri Press, Columbia.
Chapman, Carl H. and David R. Evans
1977 Investigations at the Lilbourn Site 1970-1971. The Missouri Archaeologist 38.
Diaz-Granados, Carol and James R. Duncan
2000 The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.
Diesing, Eugene H.
1955 Archaeological Features in and around Washington State Park in Washington and Jefferson Counties, Missouri. The Missouri Archaeologist. 17(1): 12-23.
Diesing, Eugene H. and Frank Magre
1942 Petroglyphs and Pictographs in Missouri. The Missouri Archaeologist. 8(1): 8-18.
Fowler, Melvin L., Jerome Rose, Barbara Vander Leest,
and Steven R. Ahler
1999 The Mound 72 Area: Dedicated and Sacred Space in Early Cahokia. Illiinois State Museum Reports of Investigations 54.
Hamilton, Henry W.
1952 The Spiro Mound. The Missouri Archaeologist. 14.
La Flesche, Francis
1932 A Dictionary of the the Osage language. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 109.
1995 The Osage and the invisible world: from the works
of Francis La Flesche. Edited by Garrick A. Bailey. University of
Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Morse, Dan F., and Phyllis A. Morse
1983 Archaeology of the Central Mississippi Valley. Academic Press, San Diego.
O'Brien, Michael J. and W. Raymond Wood
1998 The Prehistory of Missouri. University of Missouri Press, Columbia.
1959 Summer Fieldwork at Washington State Park, Missouri. Missouri Archaeological Society Newsletter 134:7-10.
Designed by Neathery and Michael Fuller,
St. Louis Community College at Meramec
Constructed on 22 September 2002.
Revised 7 April 2016