In the collection are 61 bannerstones selected from the 462 stones in the American Museum of Natural History. These 61 bannerstones represent the range of types, materials, and conditions of the stones. There are 580 photographs taken at various angles, which highlight sculpted form, scale, carving and drilling techniques, geologic details, and the current condition of these bannerstones. These images may be downloaded and used freely for teaching and personal use. Include the credit line “© Anna Blume, 2017, Courtesy of the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History” along with the object’s Catalog Number. Publishing of images is permitted with permission from the AMNH. For additional publishing questions, contact [email protected].
The National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (NMNH) is the second collection to be studied and added to the Archaic Bannerstone Project website. Of the 728 bannerstones in the NMNH collection, we have selected 32 that represent bannerstone types or materials not already included. Five of the bannerstones are plaster casts (A30224, A61057, A61508, A61509, A26977-1) that were meticulously shaped and painted in the late 19th or early 20th century. Three of the stones for these casts were temporarily loaned to the NMNH (A61057, A61508, A61509) by A.E. Douglass, who excavated them from a mound in southern Florida in 1871. Shortly after the casts were made, Douglass donated the original stones to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. NMNH cast A61057 represents a Wisconsin Wing from this excavation, the original of which is missing from any known collection, making the cast the only visual and physical record remaining of the original bannerstone. Only in the case of A26977-1 does the NMNH also have the original stone (A26977) providing us with a rare opportunity to study and photograph the original porphyry granite Wisconsin Wing side by side with its cast. Other notable rare inclusions in this extensive collection are a partially-completed crystal bannerstone A34419. The Archaic-era sculptor of this Quartz Butterfly bannerstone appears to have attempted to expand their range to include a significantly harder, more translucent material which may account for why it was not drilled or completed. Also of note is A317061, a diorite Southern Ovate with exceedingly elegant, thin wings and an unusual spine carved with two narrow grooves, which attest to the visual acuity and skill of the sculptor. We include in this collection 317 photographs of the 32 original stone and plaster cast bannerstones.
These images may be downloaded and used freely for teaching and personal use. Include the credit line “© Anna Blume, 2019, Courtesy of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution” along with the object’s Catalog Number. Publishing of images is permitted with additional permission from the NMNH. For additional publishing questions, contact [email protected].
The Ohio History Connection (OHC) archaeological collection has thousands of archaic bannerstones and bannerstone fragments. From the collection we selected 23 bannerstones, many of which had been uniquely drilled for reuse or restored in the archaic and historical periods. One bannerstone, a Double-Notched Butterfly type, had broken down the center along the perforation ridge and was repaired in the archaic period with holes drilled, one on each side of the broken flanges, to presumably reattach them (A 60/000059). Two other Butterfly bannerstones were missing their thin-winged flanges, with edges smoothed out in the archaic period for reuse. Another miniature-sized light gray Butterfly bannerstone was also missing one of its flanges. Its remaining flange had an archaic-period drill hole for some form of reuse (A 5752/001274). The OHC also has several stones that were repaired with plaster in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was common for broken archaeological material to be “restored.” One notable example is a Lunate bannerstone that presumably had been broken in half at its perforation in the archaic period (A 56/000008). The missing other half of the bannerstone was replicated in plaster and carefully painted to match the original shape and slate banding of the archaic lithic. In the archaic period, it was common to intentionally break bannerstones before they were buried or cached. When unintentional breaks occurred, repair and reuse during the archaic period was also common. The practices and motivation for bannerstone repairs or restorations, whether in the archaic period or the 19th-20th centuries, reveal the vast differences of what these bannerstones meant during the vastly different contexts of their original makers and subsequent collectors.
Many of the bannerstones in the OHC collection were made from shale, a common material in the region. The vast majority were made from banded slate, a material that would have been traded for and brought in from hundreds of kilometers away.
These images may be downloaded and used freely for teaching and personal use. Include the credit line “© Anna Blume, 2023, Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection” along with the object’s Catalog Number. Publishing of images is permitted with additional permission from the OHC. For additional publishing questions, contact [email protected].
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has five exquisite bannerstones housed within the Ancient American Art Collection in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing of the museum. Each stone is unique in shape and pristine in conservation, representing the aesthetic interests of Archaic-era stone sculptors. One of the bannerstones was acquired in 1954 by Nelson Rockefeller from the Julius Carlebach Gallery, which specialized in Surrealist and ethnographic works of art. Ten years later, in 1964, Rockefeller acquired another bannerstone from the collector George Terasaki who specialized in Indigenous arts of North America. The three additional bannerstones in The Met’s collection were a gift from Ralph T. Coe, who gave over 200 Indigenous American works of art to the museum. Two of the five bannerstones are hypertrophic (relatively large) in size and nearly twice the weight of most bannerstones, suggesting that they may have been used in performances or ceremonies. These five bannerstones, made between 6000 and 1000 BCE, are the oldest finely- carved lithics made in the Americas in The Met’s collection.