Friday, December 9, 2011

Early California Indians: A Burial cave In Baja California



The small cave at Bahía de Los Angeles contained at least seven burials: six adults and “fragments of one or more infants” (Annual Report, 1888, p. 128). These burials were extended with an east-west orientation corresponding to the axis of the fissure; the foot bones were to the west, at the mouth of the cave, and the crania were in the tapered interior. The published report does not indicate whether placement was prone or supine.
According to the Report the burials had been placed on a layer of sewn rush matting (139533), of which three bundles were collected.
The artifacts described here were found in direct association with the skeletons. There are few details as to actual associations. However, three hairnets (139534) were found on three of the crania.
To date, the use of small caves for the specific purpose of burial appears to be characteristic only of the extreme south of Baja California, in the Cape Region. Interments there were customarily secondary, although primary burials, usually flexed, do occur (Massey, MS 1). In the extensive area that lies between Bahía de Los Angeles and the Cape Region, excavations have failed to produce cave cemeteries. To judge from published reports, such a custom was rare elsewhere in western North America.
A variety of artifacts accompanied the burials, but while the range of types is large, the number of any one type is small. Preservation of all specimens is generally good. We are fortunate in having perishable pieces—netting, matting, cloth, and wood. Certain general categories of items, such as household utensils and remains of foodstuffs, are absent and unreported.
Tube Pipes
Tube pipes originated with the Maritime Archaic cultures from Europe that had spread the extent of Asia to the Japanese Islands and California
Tubular stone pipes.—Two tubular sandstone pipes were recovered from the cave. They are dissimilar in size, and, in some particulars, in manufacture.
The larger specimen e) is a ground sandstone tube, 29.8 cm. long. In shape it tapers very gradually from the broad bowl end to the narrower mouth end. The conical bowl is 3.5 cm. deep; the mouth end has a depth of 1.6 cm. A small (4 mm.) drilled hole connects the two ends. The mouth end is filled by a plug of partially carbonized matted coarse fibers. There is a narrow carbonized strip, slightly in from the bowl end, which runs around the pipe; this appears to be the remnant of a cord that had been tied around it. Since the pipe had been broken at that end, it may have been repaired aboriginally with such a cord.
The smaller pipe (139564;d) barely tapers from the bowl end to the mouth end. The ends of this pipe are conically drilled and they interconnect; there is no drilled hole connecting the bowl with the mouth end, as in the larger specimen. A partially carbonized plug of matted coarse fibers also fills the mouth end of the smaller pipe.
Although simple tubular stone pipes occur sporadically in the archaeology of the Southwest, they are encountered frequently in central and northern Baja California. Stone tubes or pipes, called chacuacos, are often mentioned in Spanish sources as part of the shaman’s paraphernalia in this Yuman-speaking area of the peninsula (Venegas, 1944, I:93, 95; Clavigero, 1937, p. 115).
In the known areas of archaeological occurrence these pipes appear in two distinct sizes, even as they are represented in the two Bahía de Los Angeles specimens. There is the long type, measuring more than 15 cm., of which several specimens have been found in Baja California, at Bahía de Los Angeles, at a site near the Rosario Mission in the northwest, and throughout the central part of the peninsula (Massey, field notes). This type has also been noted from Ortiz, Sonora (Di Peso, 1957, p. 288), and in a late prehistoric or historic level at Ventana Cave (Haury, 1950, p. 331).
The shorter type, usually about 7 cm. in length, is known to occur in the general central region around Mulegé (Massey, MS 2) and at Bahía de Los Angeles. In the Southwest, the smaller type has been reported from Chiricahua-Amargosa II levels at Ventana Cave (Haury, 1950, p. 329); La Candelaria Cave, Coahuila (Aveleyra et al., 1956, pp. 174-175); San Cayetano Ruin (Di Peso, 1956, pp. 423-430); and from a series of sites, particularly in the Mogollon area (Martin et al., 1952, pp. 112-113, fig. 44).
Similar pipes have also been found in the western Great Basin at Lovelock Cave (Loud and Harrington, 1929, pl. 52) on the old shoreline of Humboldt Lake (ibid., pl. 65), and at Humboldt Cave (Heizer and Krieger, 1956, p. 71; pl. 31, ef).
Ethnographically, pipes of straight tubular shape are characteristic of California, the Great Basin, and the west coast of Mexico; however, they are usually of pottery where pottery-making was known (Driver and Massey, 1957, pp. 262-263, map 70). In these areas they were used for smoking, frequently in association with religious or curing ceremonies.
In mission times tubular stone pipes were used throughout northern and central Baja California by shamans; they were smoked and the smoke was blown on injured or diseased parts, or they were used as sucking and blowing tubes for the removal of disease-causing objects.

Bone awls and daggers of identical design are found the extent of the globe associated with the Maritime Archaic
Bone awls or “daggers.”—Two bone awls or “daggers” of identical type are included in the collection (139589, a and b;ab). Both specimens are made of the sawed and ground metapodials of some large mammal, presumably deer. The shorter of the two (139589a) retains vestiges of a black adhesive for half the length of its convex surface. This is probably the result of hafting. Nothing precisely comparable to these specimens has been reported so far in the archaeology of the peninsula; however, similar artifacts do occur in near-by regions. They have been reported from southern California (Gifford, 1940, p. 161), from Basketmaker sites in Arizona (Kidder and Guernsey, 1919, p. 128), and from Ventana Cave, where they are concentrated in Level 4 (Haury, 1950, fig. 86J, p. 376, table 30).
Other bone artifacts comprise two parts to flakers (139556, 139557)”

A number of shell ornaments and a piece of coral were recovered from the cave. At the same time unworked specimens were found and collected both from the cave and from the midden which occupies the bay shore just east of the cave.
Abalone ornaments.—Three abalone shell ornaments (139551-139553), identified as Haliotis splendens, were found. Two are complete, one (139553) is fragmental. They all appear to be examples of a single type. They are oval to circular, with the following dimensions: 139551 ( c) is 4.8 cm. in diameter; 139552  a) is 5.3 by 4.3 cm.; and 139553  b) appears to have been 3.9 cm. in diameter. Thickness varies between 2 and 3 mm. In manufacture the original external surface of the shell has been ground and polished to a nacreous surface. In decoration of the two complete specimens there is a central conically drilled hole from which short incisions radiate, and an additional hole is drilled on one edge, probably for stringing. The fragmental specimen (139553) has these holes, but in addition has three other holes drilled near the original central hole. The original description of the artifacts suggests that these holes may have been intended as repairs (Annual Report, 1888, p. 129). All three shell specimens are edge-incised, and two have punctate designs.
Until the present, few shell ornaments have been noted in the archaeology of Baja California. No specimens identical to those from Bahía de Los Angeles are known; however, all of the decorative elements and techniques recorded here can be duplicated among specimens of oyster (Pinctada mazatlanica) shell ornaments from the Cape Region far to the south (Massey, MS 1). Since abalone do not occur in the Gulf of California, these shells must have been obtained by the Bahía de Los Angeles people from the Pacific Coast, either directly or in trade. Specific mention of the use of abalone among the historic Indians of the peninsula is rare in the documents; however, contemporary Kiliwa women use pieces of the shell for ornamentation (Meigs, 1939, p. 35).
Abalone shell was commonly used by peoples of adjacent California. Both the shell and, probably, the ornaments themselves were widely traded into the Southwest. Ornaments very similar to the Bahía de Los Angeles specimens have been found in Basketmaker caves in Arizona (Guernsey and Kidder, 1921, p. 49).
Olivella shell.—Four broken strings of Olivella shell beads (Obiplicata) (139546) were found with the burials. Two types are represented. There are three short strands, totaling 17 beads, in which only the spires have been ground from the shells for stringing . The fourth strand held 9 Olivella shells, somewhat larger than the others, from which both the spires and bases had been ground  d).
In addition to the strings of beads, Olivella shell is recorded in use with two other specimens in the collection. Fragments of shells are found as inlay on a wooden artifact (139565); for a description see the section on wooden artifacts They are also found tied in with bundles of human hair in a garment (139539).
The use of Olivella shells, with spires, bases, or both removed by grinding in order to make beads, is known throughout Baja California archaeologically. Similar occurrences are even more frequent in the archaeology of southern and central California (Gifford, 1947, p. 11). Olivella shells inlaid in asphaltum have been found in southern California (ibid., p. 36). The inlaid fragments of the shell from Bahía de Los Angeles duplicate this type of decoration.
In addition to the cordage used in the fabrication of articles of apparel, household utensils, and for the hafting of tools, the cave contained the usual miscellany of prepared fibers and knots (139544) usually of agave fiber. There is also a bundle of unspun hair tied in the center with an overhand knot (139543). The bulk of the miscellaneous cordage is 2-ply cord—each single S-twisted with a final Z-twist. Since the spinning is so uniformly of this twisting, it is highly probable that manufacture of the cordage followed that described by Kissell for the Papago, and noted in many other places. This method of “down movement” followed by an “up movement” to make the 2-ply gives a preliminary S-twist and a final Z-twist (Kissell, 1916, p. 229).
Under the microscope, one of the specimens shows a single fiber, used as a tie at a position where a new bundle of fibers is added, weaving in and out of the old and new bundles. This gives the fibers much stronger binding than does twisting together alone. The twist is normally medium-hard to hard with an occasional crêpe twist.
Fur-wrapped cord, of which only fragments were recovered, consists of strips of hide with fur attached, about 1 cm. wide, wrapped around (S-twist) already prepared 2-ply agavefiber cord. No articles were found which had been constructed with fur-wrapped cord.
Since these fragments are undoubtedly bits broken from finished articles or remnants from the construction of articles, it is not surprising that, with one notable exception, they cover the range of prepared cordage for the other specimens. The exception is cotton cord, of which no fragments were recovered. This strengthens the hypothesis that the cotton cloth (139537) was brought to the peninsula in its manufactured state.
Both human-hair cord and palm-fiber cordage, common to cave collections from the Cape Region of southern Baja California, are missing here at Bahía de Los Angeles.
Square knots are most common in the collection of miscellaneous cordage. This is to be expected, in view of the square-knot construction of the hairnets and carrying nets found in the cave.
Identifiable vegetal fibers include those of Apocynum sp. (probably cannabinum) and Agave sp.[3]
On a comparative basis the cordage and miscellaneous knots from Bahía de Los Angeles are most like historic-period materials from central Baja California. Excavated sites and large private collections there contain an overwhelming amount of cordage that is 2-ply Z-twist; both square and overhand knots were found. Again like Bahía de Los Angeles, nets were made by the square-knot technique (Massey and Tuohy, MS).
The southern part of the peninsula, on the contrary, exhibits 2-ply Z-twist cordage only in slightly over 50 per cent of collected specimens. Both knots were known, but netting was made entirely by lark’s-head knotting (Massey, MS 1).
Human Hair “Cape”
The human hair “cape” from the Palmer Collection (139539; also 139538, 139550) is fragmentary, but sufficiently intact to provide complete information on the technique of its construction and manufacture , b).
The hanks of human hair forming this garment are from 12.7 cm. to 27.5 cm. long with the majority falling in midrange. The hanks are about 6 mm. in diameter. Primarily, each bundle of hanks was held together by a light wrapping of single agave (?) fibers and some such adhesive material as pitch. In addition, these bundles are secondarily secured with fine 2-ply cord, which is 1 mm. in diameter, with a hard Z-twist. This fine cord also serves to tie each bundle to the main cord of suspension.
The bundles of hair were held together by the same tie-twining as in the matting (fig. 2). There is an overhand knot between each of the bundles. The twining cord itself is 2-ply, Z-twisted in a loose twist. This method served to fasten the bundles to the cord, space them, and to hold them closely. This tying consists of a basic cord and a wrapping cord. A third cord, which formed the wrapping of the individual bundles, is carried to the basic cord, wrapped around it, and in turn is wrapped by the whipping cord. This wrapping is not accomplished neatly; the garment—for all of this cord wrapping—is not a very strongly constructed article.
In the Palmer Collection there are broken hanks of human hair, undoubtedly parts of this specimen, which are catalogued separately (139538). Among these is a string of Olivellabeads strung on 2-ply cord, and wrapped in with the tying cord of a hair bundle. Thus shell beads were probably part of the original garment. Other tied hanks of human hair (139550) were undoubtedly parts of the specimen.
There is no single item of native culture of Baja California so diagnostic or characteristic as mantles of human hair used by shamans. Few European chroniclers who had a chance to observe them failed to mention this article. However, none have appeared in any other reported archaeological excavations on the peninsula.
As part of the paraphernalia of the shaman, the cape or mask of human hair was indispensable from the Guaicura north to the Kiliwa and Western Diegueño. In all recorded cases the hair was obtained from relatives mourning the death of a recently deceased member of the family or from the dead themselves. Construction of the garments must have been in the hands of the shamans themselves, so secret were most aspects of the medicine-man’s lore.
Although the cultural and tribal identification of masks or capes of human hair with the shaman is general for the Peninsular Yumans (Cochimí), such capes were found as far south as the Guaicura in historic times (Baegert, 1942, p. 123). Both of the major sources for the historic ethnography of the Yuman-speaking peoples of central Baja California attest to the use of this device by native medicine-men (Venegas, 1944, I:95-96, 100; Clavigero, 1937, p. 114). For the area nearest Bahía de Los Angeles, the best description of the use of these garments is that of the 18th-century Dominican, Father Luis Sales, who speaks of the capes as follows (1794, pp. 76-77):
When all are gathered, ornamented with charcoal and yellow, the old man places himself in the center of the circle. Under his arm he has a doubled mat of rushes in which he hides the rain cape from the fiesta.[5] On another little stick he has the hair of the dead man suspended. He indicates silence, puts on the rain cape of the hair of the dead, and causes as much horror as when a bear appears. He plays a whistle and tells them that the dead man is coming; but, however much they look, they do not see him coming. Nevertheless they believe it. Then he shows them the little stick with the hair of the dead man, and tells them that he is there, that they see him—and they see nothing. However they give cries, they pull their hair, and make other ridiculous actions. Finally, relieved by crying, the old man comforts them. He puts a thousand questions to the head of hair, and he himself answers them to his liking.
This 18th-century description of Indians to the north of Bahía de Los Angeles, on the Frontera, has its exact counterpart in a 20th-century description of the ñiwey (“Talking with the Dead”) Ceremony of the Kiliwa (Meigs, 1939, pp. 50-57).

Cotton Cloth
Since woven cotton (Gossypium sp.) was unknown in aboriginal Baja California at the time of European contact, its provenience must be beyond the peninsula. Presumably this specimen is a piece of pre-Columbian trade goods from the mainland of Mexico, and so belongs in the cultural inventory of the cotton-weaving cultures of the Oasis Area.
The weave of this fragment (139537) is Plain (over-one-under-one) (pl. 17, c). The piece, which measures 25.5 cm. long (warp) by 30 cm. (weft), consists of one loomstring end and neither selvage. The warp is white cotton cord, 1 mm. in diameter, in a loosely twisted 2-ply Z-twist. The weft of the same material has a diameter of 2 mm. of single ply, very loosely Z-twist cord. This weft is about the equivalent of commercial slub with no tensile strength. The thread count of the cloth is virtually square (6 x 5 per cm.), although the greater diameter of the tightly beaten weft makes it the predominant feature of the textile.
The warp ends carry a decorative strengthening feature known to Southwestern textiles, both ancient and modern. Two whipping cords that are like the weft secure the end warp loops. They were structural and were probably inserted while the warp was being set up.
One side of the cloth has a whipped edge holding irregularly broken weft ends. This rough mending was accomplished with the usual native 2-ply cordage. Depth of the stitch into the material varies considerably—an indication of expedience rather than ornamentation.
Since cotton cloth and cotton are absent from the pre-Columbian archaeology and the historic ethnography of the peninsula, this specimen must have been obtained through trans-Gulf trade with mainland Mexico. The Seri of Tiburon Island and Sonora were probably the intermediary traders. These Indians are well aware of the peninsula opposite them to the west (Griffen, 1959).
Although the weave of this specimen is the simplest of all weaving techniques, it is lacking among other textile materials of Baja California, such as basketry and matting. The precise mainland derivation of this specimen must remain in doubt; all the tribes of Sonora—except the Seri—wove cotton (Driver and Massey, 1957, p. 216). Plain cotton cloth was extremely widely distributed in the prehistoric Oasis area, and dates at least from Pueblo I times in the American Southwest (Kent, 1957, p. 491).



a. Bone awl or “dagger” (139589b), 16.5 cm. long, 2.2 cm. maximum width, b. Bone awl (139589a), 13.5 cm. long, 2.6 cm. maximum width. c. Worked pumice piece (139613), 8 cm. x 4 cm. d. Tubular stone pipe (139564), sandstone, 7.7 cm. long, 3.7 cm. diametere. Tubular stone pipe (139563), sandstone, 29.8 cm. long, 4.4 cm. diameter.

a. Abalone (Haliotis sp.) ornament (139552), 5.3 cm. long, 4.3 cm. wideb. Fragmentary abalone (Haliotis sp.) ornament (139553), 2.1 cm. present length, 3.9 cm. widec.Abalone (Haliotis sp.) ornament (139551), 4.6 cm. x 4.8 cm. d. Olivella shell beads (139546), same scale as ornaments, with bases and spires ground. e. Olivella shell beads with only spires groundf. Fragment of gypsum (139568).

a. Spines of Viznaga cactus (Echinocactus wislizeni) (139547), which have been straightened. b. Bone flaker (139556), over-all length, 12 cm.; wood, 11.2 cm. long; bone, 3.4 cm. longc. Bone flaker (139557), over-all length, 13.1 cm.; wood, 11.5 cm. long; bone, 5.6 cm. longd. Cord-wrapped stick (139558c), 17.3 cm. longe. Cord-wrapped stick (139558b), 15.8 cm. longf. Cord-wrapped cane (139558d), 10.3 cm. and 5.4 cm. longg. Cord-wrapped hide (139548).

a. Cane arrow or dart with sting-ray spine point (139587), total length of two pieces 92.5 cm. b. Two wooden fragments (139586), round in cross section; lengths 58 cm. and 56.5 cm. c. Two sticks lashed together (139585a), total length 50 cm. d. Cord-wrapped stick (139558a), length 22 cm. e. Wooden piece (139559), length 30.5 cm., diameter 8 mm. f.Tapered wooden piece (139560), length 38 cm. g. Cane whistle (139588b), length 13.5 cm., maximum diameter 1.3 cm. h. Cane whistle (139588a), length 22 cm., maximum diameter 1.7 cm. i. Bull-roarer (?) (139565), length 23.5 cm., diameter 5.1 cm., thickness 6 mm.

a. Side view of hairnet (139534a). b. Cord wrapping on piece of accordion-pleated skin (139555). c. Top view of hairnet (139534a). d. Fragment of sewed rush matting (139544), about 50 cm. x 21 cm.

a. Feathered “apron” or “cape” (139535b), 25 cm. x 17.5 cm. b. Human hair “cape” (139539), hanks of hair about 6 mm. in diameter, lengths varying from 12.7 cm. to 27.5 cm.c. Cotton cloth (139537), warp 25.5 cm., weft 30 cm. d. Tump band (139536), largest section 25 cm. long, 7.7 cm. wide.

a. Rim sherd (139614b). b. Reconstruction of pot, diameter 27 cm., height 17 cm., thickness about 9 mm.