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May 5, 2009
An article by Dr. David Easterla, distinguished university professor of biology, titled "Two Antler Bannerstones and an Unknown Antler Artifact from Southwest Iowa" has been published in the "Central States Archaeological Journal" (April 2009, Vol. 56, No. 2).
Bannerstones fashioned from bone or antler material, as opposed to being carved from stone, are extremely rare, Easterla said, due to the susceptibility of organic material to weathering and deterioration.
Easterla found the first bannerstone in 1993 on a sandbar of the East Nishnabotna River in Page County, Iowa. The second artifact, which Easterla received from its finder, was discovered in 2007 along the West Nodaway River in Montgomery County, Iowa.
Scholars have long debated the use of bannerstones, most of which date from between 5000 and 3000 BCE. Researchers have speculated that the artifacts, characterized by a centered hole in a symmetrically carved fragment of rock or bone, were used ceremonially or as part of a spear-throwing tool. Other suggested functions include drilling, cordage making and fire starting.
Easterla's paper also describes a shaped deer antler, possibly part of a scraping tool, found by the author in 2007 on the East Nishnabotna River. Similar in length (about five inches) to the two bannerstones, Easterla wrote that the name and use of the artifact remains undetermined.
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