Central States Archaeological Societies
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Banner Days

by Thomas T. Welbourn

Central States Archaeological Societies 2022 October Journal
Auburn, Kentucky



Banner Days
Figure 1. Display table built by the author to hold artifacts. The broken bannerstone is at center, bottom left.

n the bottom left corner of the inner square of this coffee table display (Fig. 1) I made is a section of a “bottle” type bannerstone. I found this bannerstone walking the infamous shell mound known as Indian Knoll on the Green River of Kentucky. Indian Knoll is famous for the extensive excavation undertaken there in the 1930s

by William Webb. Numerous bannerstones were found in situ by Webb in amongst the over 800 burials he excavated. Some were even found with the antler handle and the antler or bone hook in a line as deposited when the three pieces of that Atlatl were mounted on a wooden shaft. Some archaeologists conjecture that many such artifacts were ritually broken. Perhaps that is what happened to this bannerstone.

In the late 1980s, I had bought a Montgomery Ward 1959 Speed Boat and trailer with the original 50 HP motor for $500, mainly to travel the local rivers for access to hidden bottom land where ancient Native Americans frequently lived, or camped. The story of this find begins in that boat.

We drove to Rockport, Kentucky where we put in on the Green River and cruised upstream until we got to the site. It was late spring or early summer, and it was hot and sunny. We tied up the boat and scampered up the bank to find a field of giant grasses taller than we were. We did not know if there had been any plowing done, but we set out through that grass jungle to find out. It was not as bad as trying to get through a “cane break” of olden days in Kentucky, but, in the heat, we were suffering. Finally, it ended with a well-plowed field of black midden before us. It had some rain on it, but to the best of my memory none of us found ...


This excerpt from "Banner Days" published in the 2022 Central States Archaeological Societies 2022 October Journal

Read the complete column in the Central States Archaeological Societies 2022 October Journal which can be purchased on-line after March 2023

Banner Days
Figure 2. The broken bannerstone showing the cane-drilling. It was found by the author in Rockport, Kentucky.