This extensively illustrated volume provides the first complete visual documentation and a pioneering iconographic analysis of Picture Cave, an eastern Missouri cavern filled with Native American pictographs that is one of the most important prehistoric sites in North America.
A millennia ago, Native Americans entered the dark recesses of a cave in eastern Missouri and painted an astonishing array of human, animal, and supernatural creatures on its walls. Known as Picture Cave, it was a hallowed site for sacred rituals and rites of passage, for explaining the multi-layered cosmos, for vision quests, for communing with spirits in the “other world,” and for burying the dead. The number, variety, and complexity of images make Picture Cave one of the most significant prehistoric sites in North America, similar in importance to Cahokia and Chaco Canyon. Indeed, scholars will be able to use it to reconstruct much of the Native American symbolism of the early Western Mississippian world.
The Picture Cave Interdisciplinary Project brought together specialists in American Indian art and iconography, two artists, Osage Indian elders, a museum curator, a folklorist, and an internationally renowned cave archaeologist to produce the first complete documentation of the pictographs on the cave walls and the first interpretations of their meanings and significance. This extensively illustrated volume presents the Project’s findings, including an introduction to Picture Cave and prehistoric cave art and technical analyses of pigments, radiocarbon dating, spatial order, and archaeological remains. Interpretations of the cave’s imagery, from individual motifs to complex panels; the responses of contemporary artists; and interviews with Osage elders (descendants of the people who made the art), describing what Picture Cave means to them today, are also included. A visual glossary of all the images in Picture Cave as well as panoramic views complete this pathfinding volume.
- Carol Diaz-Granados is Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University, where she has taught for over thirty years. She is also Adjunct Professor at Webster University.
- James R. Duncan is an archaeologist and anthropologist who studies the Osage and Native American ethnography and is former Director of the Missouri State Museum.
- F. Kent Reilly III is Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Arts and Symbolism of Ancient America at Texas State University.
List of Illustrations
Foreword (Patty Jo Watson)
Preface (Carol Diaz-Granados)
Landowners’ Introductory Message
Part 1. Overview
Chapter 1. Introduction to Picture Cave and the Picture Cave Interdisciplinary Project (Carol Diaz-Granados)
Chapter 2. “Tracings in the Idleness of Art”: Picture Cave in the Context of Southeast Prehistoric Cave Art (Jan F. Simek and Alan Cressler)
Chapter 3. The Geology and Ecology of Picture Cave (Philip W. Newell)
Part 2. Technical Work at Picture Cave
Chapter 4. Geochemical Analyses of Prehistoric Pigment Materials from Picture Cave (Sarah A. Blankenship)
Chapter 5. AMS Radiocarbon Dates for Charcoal from Three Pictographs and Their Associated Iconography (Carol Diaz-Granados, Marvin W. Rowe, Marian Hyman, James R. Duncan, and John R. Southon)
Chapter 6. Documenting Spatial Order in the Pictograph Panels of Picture Cave (Jan F. Simek, Nicholas P. Herrmann, Alan Cressler, and Sarah A. Blankenship)
Chapter 7. The Origins of Picture Cave: An Essay on the Artists/Priests Who Made the Drawings, as Interpreted from the Salvaged Cultural Materials (James R. Duncan)
Part 3. Interpretations
Chapter 8. Tradition and Horizons in Southeastern Representation: Lessons from Picture Cave (James A. Brown and Jon Muller)
Chapter 9. The Black Warrior Pictograph: Dating and Interpretation (James R. Duncan, Marvin W. Rowe, Carol Diaz-Granados, Karen L. Steelman, and Tom Guilderson)
Chapter 10. The Cave and the Beneath World Spirit: Mythic Dragons from the North American Past (F. Kent Reilly III)
Chapter 11. The Cave, Cahokia, and the Omaha Tribe (Richard F. Townsend)
Chapter 12. Mortal Combat, Sacred Narratives, and Symbolic Weaponry: Mississippian Culture Heroes in Picture Cave (David H. Dye)
Chapter 13. The Spider in the Cave (Kathryn Red Corn)
Chapter 14. Transmogrification, Healing, and Resurrection: Extraordinary Themes in Picture Cave (Carol Diaz-Granados and James R. Duncan )
Chapter 15. Color Symbolism and Preliminary Assessment of Styles at Picture Cave (Carol Diaz-Granados)
Chapter 16. Visions in Picture Cave (George E. Lankford)
Chapter 17. Identifying the Characters on the Walls of Picture Cave (James R. Duncan)
Part 4. Artistry and Reaction
Chapter 18. The First Man Was an Artist: Meditations on a Prehistoric Mississippian Cave (Pala Townsend)
Chapter 19. Layered Pictures, Layered Stories, Layered Lives (Anita Fields)
Part 5. Osage Interviews and Commentary
Chapter 20. Interviews in Picture Cave and Osage Commentary (William Samuel Fletcher, Osage Elder (Hominy, Oklahoma), Alma Jean Maker, Osage Elder (Pawhuska, Oklahoma), Charles Red Corn, Osage Elder (Norman, Oklahoma))
Chapter 21. The Future of Picture Cave (Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan, F. Kent Reilly III, and Jan Simek)
Appendix: Illustrated Catalogue of Picture Cave Art
Alan Cressler and Jan F. Simek
List of Contributors