Author Topic: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation  (Read 27976 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline swamp monkey

  • Member
  • Posts: 784
Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« on: November 14, 2010, 10:14:59 pm »
The Mississippian mound builders of the eastern U.S. have always fascinated me.  I replicate much of their art and technology as a personal challenge and for enjoyment.  I would LOVE to make a mound builder inspired bow & arrow replica, and make some arrows to go with it.  The Mound builders were active up until the 1300's AD.  The problem with making this replica has a lot to do with climate.  It rains a lot in their former territory and it is humid.  Not much of the wooden artifacts survive in good shape.  So to follow closely in there footsteps will take some imagination, some inspiration and a little detective work.   We have a great idea of what raw materials were available in any given mound builder area, and we can perhaps take a cue from the historic natives.  Tribes such as the Quapaw and Natchez are thought to be close descendants of mound building culture.  In addition, I plan to use art depictions for a clue, make informed guesses on material choice (many wood types were likely used- much like historic natives and we modern bowyers), and ask for any insight any of you have on museum specimens, professional reports, or archery lore about natives thought to be descended from the Mississippians.  Much of this is obscure and may be sitting there waiting to be used!  I can only hope.  I have mined the information I can for the past three years and would love to take the next step.

Arrow shaft, fletching, bow and string are all items I want to make some educated guesses on to make a replica.  I have found some clues in Mississippian shell and gorget art.  Posted below are some sketches from those items that seem to depict a bow and some arrows in what looks like a buffalo fish.  I also did a sketch with my interpretation of what this bow and archer would look like based on the pictures.  The bow depicted looks really deflexed like the bows of the Apache.  That may be a stretch of interpretation considering this is my opinion based on two artistic depictions.  It could also be artistic style so i may ignore defelxing the bow.  The other reason for this is the Apache deflexed to make use of wood that was not super strong in tension.  The Mississippians had some great bow woods available and were great craftsmen in many other areas.  I feel safe in giving them benefit of the doubt when saying they were knowledgeable bowyers.   I note the bands on the bows depicted.  Painted bands perhaps?  What about sinew bands like the Meare Heath bow in Europe?  My bow will have some kind of bands.  So what style, D bow?  Pyramidal like the Osage tribe used?  I am open to suggestions.  More weight will be given if ideas are supported by some archeology or anthropology.  logic works too.   :)

I like the buffalo fish picture below, as it shows the fletching style very clearly.  Cahokia style points were historically used in my area so that much is easy enough to figure. I will use cane for the shaft because many of the historic natives did this.  While wood was likely used as well, I feel comfortable with surmising Mississippians used cane for shafts.  Historic tribes with cane at their disposal used it plenty.  This leaves me with sinew binding, hide glue/ pine pitch where there is not much need for interpretation.  Cresting bands were likely individual, family or status expressions sot here was likely variety.  If anyone has constructive suggestions or insight on any of this I welcome that.

I look forward to your comments!

Offline LEGIONNAIRE

  • Member
  • Posts: 631
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2010, 11:18:25 pm »
Looks like a longbow with deflex tips. Its really cool that you are doing this, I was wondering about the missisipians myself about 3 weeks ago. Im sure you watched all the youtube films like myself but came short handed. I look forward to seeing your results goodluck!
CESAR

LEGIONNAIRE ARCHERY

Offline ken75

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,886
  • crepe myrtle is my "yella wood"
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2010, 11:32:44 pm »
i've never seen much on the mound builders but the Creek and Seminole in my area are said to be descendants of these people . the museum of native americans had these pics . halfeye found these for me and replicated the first pic out of ash. great shooting bow by the way

kolomoki mounds state park has several mounds and one big temple mound . and is about a mile up the creek from me. great artifacts in this area

Offline n2huntn

  • Member
  • Posts: 468
  • jeff_smith13@hotmail.com ROLL TIDE !
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2010, 12:06:23 am »
http://moundville.ua.edu/
This isn't far from where I am now. I plan on making a trip there soon. I will see what I can find out for you. Nice to see someone following history to pursue our passion.
There is a man there named Butch Fuller who is Creek and may be helpful. I'll let him have a look at Ken and Rich's photo too.
Jeff.

Genesis 27: 3

Offline ohma

  • Member
  • Posts: 279
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2010, 10:34:29 am »
great stuff. i realy like decorated bows,gives a person a chance to put more of his self into his work,not to mention indivision.
if your not dead you are getting older so get out and shoot some arrows.

Offline swamp monkey

  • Member
  • Posts: 784
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2010, 12:08:34 pm »
Ken,  What were the handles like on those bows?  bending or non-bending?   I love the decoration.  Is that an historic design or mound builder in that area?

Offline ken75

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,886
  • crepe myrtle is my "yella wood"
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2010, 04:40:42 pm »
you just do feel them bend.design is creek indian from national museum of native americans

Offline okiecountryboy

  • Member
  • Posts: 502
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2010, 07:18:48 pm »
Dang Swamp monkey...
More GOOD research.
It makes a fine read...And just put me in fact finding mode...There goes the honey-dos for the day ;D

Ron
God, honor, country, bows, and guns.

Offline okiecountryboy

  • Member
  • Posts: 502
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2010, 09:10:15 pm »
Weapons

Bows and arrows were widely used in Indian warfare beginning in the Late Woodland or Early Mississippian Period. 
Natchez Indian Warrior
Warriors used a thick D-shaped simple bow made from hickory, ash, or black locust that was fifty to sixty inches in length and had a pull weight of about fifty pounds. These bows could send arrows long distances and were typically used to shoot at enemy villages or units of warriors at a distance.

War clubs also came into significant use during the Mississippian Period. They were carved from a hardwood such as hickory and were usually about one-and-a-half to two feet long, although some may have reached three feet in length. There were several types, the most common form being the atassa, which was actually a wooden sword shaped like a pirate's cutlass. 
Indian War Clubs
Other common types were the globe-headed club, which had a three-inch spherical knob at the end of a slightly curved handle, and the tomahawk, a stone axe head attached to a wooden handle.

Swamp Monkey

Found a little more info.

Ron
God, honor, country, bows, and guns.

Offline George Tsoukalas

  • Member
  • Posts: 9,018
    • Traditional and Primitive Archers
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2010, 09:17:58 pm »
Good stuff! Jawge
Set Happens!
If you ain't breakin' you ain't makin!

Offline loefflerchuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,096
    • www.heartwoodbows.com
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 10:13:00 pm »
Great post. Like your imagination. Many Apache bows were quite reflexed, not deflexed. They had quite good woods when combined with sinew. Mesquite, juniper and oak. As well as osage in the eastern range. The deflexed bows were further to the west. Seri, Mohave and Yuma. Where they made use of the weaker woods in the area, like willow and cottonwood

Offline Hrothgar

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,462
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2010, 10:10:50 am »
Swamp Monkey, is there any specific area or group of mound builders you are interested in? Although there isn't any way of knowing for sure, the Cahokia site being located in Illinois, probably would be more associated with the illiniwek speaking tribes to the east and north.
" To be, or not to be"...decisions, decisions, decisions.

Offline swamp monkey

  • Member
  • Posts: 784
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2010, 11:03:56 am »
Last night I did some reading and found the mound building images of bows I was referencing were from Spiro Oklahoma.  Then i began to wonder if bows were different between regions of mound builders.  The pottery certainly had regional indicators and so did the gorgets. So I realized I might get slightly different bow designs from various mound building centers.  hmmm.  not really sure what to do with that one.  I live in the Mississippi Valley so the Cahokian theme appeals to me but if i had good enough intel on other sites like in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, or Oklahoma, that would all interest me as well. Making more than one bow does not bother me. ;D

I read a chapter in "Native American Bows" by T.M. Hamilton and he mentioned two things that got me to thinking.  First he mentioned that all of the precontact bows in the eastern woodlands (I am including my portion of MO in that) average around 5 feet.  That matches well with Ron's information and i concur.  So I think I have bow length established to roughly chin height which for me is 63 inches.  Second, Hamilton also references an unpublished find of a partial bow from Mounds Plantation Site in Caddo Parrish LA.  The bow was dated to 1050-1070 AD.  I know in MO that is consistent with Mississippian time period.  The bow was reported to be Osage orange   66 inches long end to end, with a handle grip of 1 1/4" diameter.  Hamilton reports one limb was decayed but the other showed it was circular in cross section at center limb and although the bow was distorted by preservation it looked like a simple D bow with recurved tips.  Not sure what to do with the cross section report.  But if the handle is 1 1/4" wide and the bow is a D bow then I have some handle info to work with.  I wonder how many other obscure reports of bows are out there, that if they were all pooled we would have a glimpse!  That gets me fired up.

Lastly, there is on display at Cahokia Mounds Archeological park in IL the remains of a bow found along a burial in Mound 72.  The bow is in pieces and badly decayed.  However, from what I could gather peering through Plexiglas the bow was ring backed.  I wonder if I could find a detailed report on it like what Hamilton provided. . . hmmm.

Oh and thanks for the Apache clarification.  Good information folks!
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 10:03:57 pm by swamp monkey »

Offline okiecountryboy

  • Member
  • Posts: 502
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2010, 05:02:47 pm »
hey fellas
Nothin to do with bows...but found this interesting. Googled  "oklahoma mound builders" and found this....

OKLAHOMA: Still another amazing discovery was made in Oklahoma, where another stele was found which contained references to the gods Baal and Ra, with an
inscription which was “an extract from the Hymn to the Aton by Pharaoh Akhnaton.� Although the dating of Akhnation is
purported to be in the 13th century B.C., new Egyptian dynastic dating methods indicate he was much closer to 800 B.C. It is believed that Akhnaton was Solomon.
This Oklahoma stele is written in Iberian-Punic, a language descended from Phoenician-Hebrew, and Barry Fell declares that it is “scarcely older than 800 B.C.
� (see Collins, p.212, Fell, America B.C., p.159).

Evidence suggests mound builders of North American placed Temples at locations that form an interlocking grid matrix producing geometric patterns in the shape of
five pointed stars. These Mound Builders were the unknown or I should say now forgotten forces that influenced the development of the Native Americans. The later
Indian burial mounds of North America could have been built over pre-existing remnants of a long lost knowledge.

This has been the case of most conquering cultures throughout the ages. Ancient North American mounds stand unarguably before humanity challenging all to
accept the simplicity of their achievements. Accurately mapping the Americas, the mound builders placed Temples at locations that form interlocking grids. By
connecting the dots of these ancient Indian burial mound sites, the map  begins to reveal an organized grid. The mounds produce geometric patterns in the shape of
five  pointed stars.  Uncovering the great mysteries of the Mounds and the site grids may be the the greatest discovery of the millennia .

The belief of a vanished raced dominated popular and scientific discussions of the origins of  the mounds. Although scholars were trying to push the theories of
American Indians as the builders of the mounds, many people  refused to believe this 'new' theory and it wasn't until
our recent time of in the mid-nineteenth century did the 'new' theory become accepted. Today  only a few even know of this past belief.  It was Albert Gallatin, founder
of the American  Ethnological Society of New York and Wisconsin naturalist that pushed this unpopular position.
However, Caleb Atwater published Description of the Antiquities in the State of Ohio and other  Western States (1820) and  advanced the idea that the mounds were
built by a culture much more advanced than the American Indians. Josiah Priest, 'Antiquities and Discoveries of the West',
argued that the mounds were built by the Lost Tribes of Israel, wandering Egyptians, Greeks and  other groups unassociated with the American Indian. William
Pidgeon's ' Tradition of De-Coo-Dah'  (1858) , states that the De-Coo-Dah told him of an ancient race of mound building people who were  much more numerous
than the present Indians.

Maybe there were a few mollies a little further down. Anyway thought you might like the read

Ron
God, honor, country, bows, and guns.

Offline AncientArcher76

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,113
Re: Mississippian mound builder - bow speculation
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2010, 05:06:08 pm »
Good info!

Russ
Time, dedication, cuts, tons of broken rock, a wife, and perhaps a few girlfriends are some of what it takes in becoming a skilled flint knapper!!!
 
"Ancient Art"  by R. Hill