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spiromound-0001- Figure 1: The Bell-Townsend-Onken Blade

This artifact was recovered from The Spiro Mound, reportedly by Bill Heydon Vandagriff, and purchased for $15.00 on the spot by Robert E. Bell for his father’s collection. The blade was broken in one place and was glued together as shown in the photograph taken April 15, 1935. This break can be identified by a small shadow in the middle of the blade, about one-fourth of the way up from the base.

It is pictured in color in Who’s Who in Indian Relics, #5 (1980), where it is said; “this 13 1/8 inch flint lance has a maximum thickness at one spot of only 3/8 inch.” It was item # 103 in the Harry T. Bell collection at Marion, Ohio, until July 30, 1956, when Earl C. Townsend, Jr. purchased the Bell collection. It is currently in the collection of Bobby Onken. The blade is shown in the Townsend collection in Mr. Onken’s Legends of Prehistoric Art, Volume 1, page 97 and will also be featured in Masterpieces of Prehistoric Art - Volume 1. It was also shown in color on the cover of the “Prehistoric American” Volume XXXVII Number 3, 2003.


spiromound-0008- Figure 8: 3000 arrowpoints

This photograph shows an incredible cache of around 3,000 arrowheads. This cache was found in April 1935. These were sold to Mr. Cooperrider of Indianapolis, Indiana, a secondhand furniture dealer, for a price of $100. Dr. Robert E. Bell said the cache would fit in his camera bag (See Photograph 12). They are shown sitting on someone’s lunch sack.


spiromound-0012- Figure 12: The Tribute Points Frame

Mr. Schellenberger of Dardanelle, Arkansas originally assembled this outstanding frame of 205 bird points from Spiro. Robert E. Bell took this picture in April 1935. The picture was shown to Mr. Schwem who managed the local S.S. Kresge’s 5 & 10 store in Bell’s hometown of Marion, Ohio. (Kresge’s became K Mart.) Although he was not a collector, he asked Bell to purchase the frame for him. Bell arranged the transaction and, for $100, the frame was obtained. Several points from this frame can be seen in the “Prehistoric American” Volume XXXVII Number 3, 2003.


spiromound-0015- Figure 14: Braecklein Photograph

This picture was taken December 8, 1935, in J.G. Braecklein’s Indian Store at 1906 and 8 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri. It was featured in an article by A.B. MacDonald in the Kansas City Star, dateline Spiro, Oklahoma, appearing on December 15, 1935, under the headline, “A ‘King Tut’ Tomb in the Arkansas Valley.” The text of this article appears in Brown (1996) and is recommended reading.

A list of the artifacts shown in the photograph include: the “Big Boy” pipe, a small canine effigy pipe, two large decorated conch shells, three conch shell core pendants, seven maces of both chipped and polished varieties, three strands of freshwater pearl beads, a large columella core bead, seven spherical columella beads, a strand of beads, and a piece of matting or fabric. The four polished maces and the “Big Boy” pipe can be seen in color in the “Prehistoric American” Volume XXXVII Number 3, 2003.


spiromound-0022- Figure 22: Blade and mace cache: Part 1

This photograph shows ten of the long narrow blades from the Wehrle Cache. These were purchased from Lear Howell of Glenwood, Arkansas by A.T. Wehrle of Newark, Ohio and later donated to the Ohio Historical Society. There were a total of 17 blades plus three maces in the group sold to Mr. Wehrle. There may have been other pieces originally in the cache and sold elsewhere. Six out of this group of bladesare shown in Hamilton (1952), Plate 46. The longest is 22” long and is included in the Hamilton picture. The remainder of the cache is pictured in Figure 23.


spiromound-0023- Figure 23: Blade and mace cache: Part 2

This photograph shows the remaining items from the Wehrle Cache shown in Figure 22. These two photographs show a total of twenty artifacts found in a cache at Spiro in August 1935. There may have been a few additional pieces in this cache not included in this collection. This photograph shows seven of the long narrow blades, also called swords, and the three chipped chert maces that were purchased by A.T. Wehrle from Lear Howell. The longest blade in this photograph is 17” long and the longest mace is 16 3/8” long. These maces are pictured in Hamilton (1952), Plate 43, and six of the swords from the cache, not any of the examples shown in this photograph, are shown in his Plate 46.


spiromound-0030- Figure 30: Earspools

This photograph shows eight matched pairs of perforated pulley-shaped earspools. Hamilton (1952) shows various examples in his Plates 79, 80, and 81. Hamilton (1952) says some estimates are that as many as four hundred pulley-shaped earspools were found. Brown (1996) has an excellent discussion of this artifact type in his Chapter 35. Of the examples shown here, the set with small perforations and raised areas, called bosses, are less common. Some of these were in the Harry T. Bell collection which sold to Earl C. Townsend, Jr. in 1956. All of the examples shown appear to have been covered with a thin sheet of copper and most are made of sandstone. Several of the many designs found at Spiro are featured here. The earspool is shown being worn in the ear lobes on copper and shell art found at Spiro and other sites. This use also appears on some effigy pieces. In burials, they have been found near the skull, on either side of the head, where the ears would have been. They may be quite large, some over 3” in diameter. They were often heavy since most were made of stone, although wooden, pottery, and shell earspools are also known.


spiromound-0040- Figure 40: Copper-covered wooden knife

This is one of an unusual group of artifacts found at Spiro. There were 62 of these elliptical wooden blades or “knives” found carved from red cedar. They were covered with sheet copper on the front face that overlapped onto the back edge to secure the copper to the wood. Slightly off-center is a depressed area wrapped with cord. Most have a design that simulates the flaking pattern that would be found on a chipped stone blade. This example is roughly 11 1/2” in length. There is a leather thong tie that passes from the rear through a hole in the upper left hand corner of the blade, as viewed in this photograph. This photograph dates from April 1935.

Similar examples are shown in Brown (1996), Figure 2-80, and Hamilton (1952), Plate 78 and Hamilton, et. al.: Spiro Mound Copper (1974), Figure 107. The Ohio Historical Society has 54 of these in their collection as part of the A. T. Wehrle collection which was donated to the Museum in 1956. (See Figure 20 for a discussion of the Wehrle Collection.) They vary in length up to 17” long. There are a couple of examples where there is an eye design instead of simulated flaking. Most of the examples seem to be in matched pairs. This piece did not appear to be in the Ohio Historical Society Collection.

spiromound-0044- Figure 44: Copper sheet hair plume ornament—serpentine form

Another example of the serpentine form of the copper sheet hair plume. It may still have a quill attached. It is part of a cache of eight copper feathers that also included the copper Human Head Effigy shown in Figure 46. See Figures 41, 42, 43 and 45 (left) for other items in the cache. This piece was originally in the A.T. Wehrle Collection of Newark, Ohio, which is now at the Ohio Historical Society. Upon his death in 1954, A.T. Wehrle left his entire artifact collection to the St. Josefina Catholic School near Columbus, Ohio, to be sold for the benefit of the school. The school contacted Mr. Ray Baby of the Ohio Historical Society for help in auctioning off the collection. In return for his help, the Ohio Historical Society received a donation of all the Spiro material in the Wehrle Collection. This material was described as part of “ . . . a small group of artifacts from The Spiro Mound Group in La Flora (sic) County, Okla.” which was presented as a gift from The Wehrle Foundation on March 23, 1956. The Ohio Historical Society agreed “ . . . the material acquired will be maintained as a unit and be known as the A.T. Wehrle Collection.”


spiromound-0046- Figure 46: Repousse male profile in copper with two earspools

This picture shows an 11” cutout copper sheet human head effigy with repousse designs. Below it are shown two stone earspools with copper coverings. The figure in the cutout can be seen wearing such an earspool. Also, from the occipital hairknot is a copper feather that curves up over the head. It is clear that this is not simulating a real feather but that it is intended to show a sheet copper plume hair ornament such as those seen in Figures 41 and 42. The eyes are almond-shaped and are within a forked or weeping eye design. This eye design is like the marking of the peregrine falcon. This piece is shown in Ancient Art of the American Woodland Indians on page 142, plate 100 (catalog number 95). It is also shown in Hamilton (1952) Plate 73, and Hamilton, et. al. Spiro Mound Copper (1974), Figure 88. This piece is now at the Ohio Historical Society, the result of an exchange with Robert Bell and Robert Phelps of Marion, Ohio, arranged by Henry C. Shetrone, Director, Ohio State Museum. This piece is listed as inventory item 1393.1A. This profile was part of a cache that included eight copper feather pieces. See Figures 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 (left) for other items in the cache.


spiromound-0079- Figure 81: Human effigy T-shaped pipe

This is a very unusual human effigy T-shaped pipe. It is the only one of its kind known from Spiro. It has been restored. The reverse side also shows an effigy face, as seen in Figure 82. This piece is shown in Who’s Who #8 on page 82, in the D. R. Gehlbach collection of Columbus, Ohio.

Mr. Gehlbach provided the following information about the pipe: “The T-shaped double effigy (human) pipe was listed by Chadwick as made of Ironstone (as I would describe it a reddish brown fine grained compact material). Dimensions are as follows: 3 3/8” high, 6 1/2” long (including 1 7/8” restored section), greatest bowl width 2 1/4”, bowl opening 1” diameter and has depth of 3 1/4”, stem hole 3/8” by 7/16” in diameter.”

He continues, “The faces on opposing sides of the bowl are human cameos (outlined by circling groove). Facial features (similar on both faces) include oval deeply incised eyes, a long deeply incised three-dimensional squared off nose, an oval recessed mouth with rounded three-dimensional lips, and a semi-oval tongue. A faint line circles the top of the bowl. The stem is semi-round, flat on the bottom, oval on top, and the restored section tapers to a blunt end.”


spiromound-0080- Figure 82: Human effigy T-shaped pipe (reverse)


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