Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Ancient Kansas Astronomy - Intaglios - LexiLine Journal 315

Beccy Tanner at the The Wichita Eagle has a December 19, 2004 story
at http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/local/10450663.htm
entitled "Figures carved into prairie are a story of ancient beliefs".

The story is about ancient intaglios (figures or designs carved into surfaces) found in Kansas. These "ground drawings" in Kansas are drawn on trenches along hillsides and show figures of a serpent holding a ball in its mouth, then another serpent, a turtle, a duck and two caterpillars.

Kansas archaeologists and anthropologists see the figures as possibly marking the solstices and the stars and planets for ritual purposes.

Donald Blakeslee, professor of archaeology at Wichita State, compares the Kansas council circles to Stonehenge in England as sacred calendars the sun hits at certain points during the solstices.
"'The native people in Mexico connect the caterpillars with meteors
and meteor showers -- they have a celestial connection,' Blakeslee
said."
In other words, we know from that knowledge that the caterpillars mark portions of the sky in which annual major meteor showers occur (there are only a few of these - see
http://skytour.homestead.com/met2005.html). Knowing that, we have a good chance to put the rest of the intaglios into their proper astronomical places.

Possible dates for the caterpillars are then the meteor showers known as:

1. the Perseids
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/25jun_perseids2004.htm are major meteor showers which peak around August 12 and at which time the caterpillars can be quite a nuisance in Kansas http://hayandforage.com/news/farming_kansas_growers_battle/

2. the Lyrids http://skytour.homestead.com/met2005.html which appear in Spring

Some caterpillars appear http://www.ext.vt.edu/departments/entomology/ornamentals/caterpillars.html twice a year (in Spring and Midsummer). Are the two intaglios of caterpillars next to each other or separated by other figures?

Without knowing the inter-related locations of the figures on the ground in Kansas, their identification is guesswork on our part, but we think that at least one of the Kansas caterpillars could mark the Perseids. The Perseids appear in August but are found in the Perseid Radiant, which is at the top of the constellation of Perseus.

If the caterpillar is close to the duck, then the duck may mark the Pleiades (indeed, the duck marks the Pleiades (Latvian Pīlītes "ducks") clear back to the time of Lascaux, ca. 9000 BC - see
Stars Stones and Scholars

The turtle then would mark Orion - as it did for the Maya
http://www.isourcecom.com/maya/cities/uxmal/houseoftheturtles.htm see also
http://turtlemountain.org/exhibits/mythandhistory/orion" concerning the turtle as marking Orion on Native American medicine wheels.

One serpent figure would then be Hydra.

The serpent holding a ball in its mouth could mark the center of heaven, but this would depend on the location of this serpent with respect to the other figures. Again, I do not have a plan of the
figures on the ground. Otherwise, I could make the identifications with more certainty.

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