Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies

Bannerstone/Birdstone?

Ken Spaulding

 

Ionia, Michigan

 
Banded slate, knobbed crescent bannerstone with bird-like heads. Tally-marked and engraved, it measures 3-3/4 inches long. From the collection of Ken Spaulding, Eaton County, Michigan.

Ionia, Michigan is at the top of the heart area of birdstone concentration. Many quality examples of banded
slate bannerstones have been found in Michigan. I've collected birdstones and bannerstones from my local area for over 60 years and always wondered if there was a connection between these two prehistoric artforms.

I was alerted to the sale of stone artifacts found on a centennial farm in Eaton County, Michigan. One of the artifacts was listed as a double-headed bird effigy. I purchased the item, identifying it as a knobbed crescent bannerstone. After careful examination of its unusual features the question arose; was this artifact a missing
link between birdstones and bannerstones?

The knobbed ends resemble the style of birdstone heads seen on the so-called animal-type birdstone. A slanting line is engraved in back of the head, high on the neck, indicating a departure from bird head to banner wing. A 'V' cut down the wings animates the neck. The most convincing feature are the eyes cut in the face of the
head. These cuts are appropriately placed where eyes would be.

Birdstones and bannerstones share the same time frame and geography. No conclusive link has thus far been established. Is this slate artform reason for new thinking? You decide!


 

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