Friday, January 6, 2017

SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL and a Look At Kennewick Man.


Figure One - 4.1 inch long discoidal biface or core stone which was
the inspiration for the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.   
One of my goals when I wrote the prehistoric adventure book series entitled the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY was to squash out the myth that Paleoindians in North America were not intelligent, that they were one evolutionary step away from cavemen and chimpanzees. North American Paleoindians had the same intelligence level and foresight as we do. They did not have the same situational learning experiences as us, but then again, we do not have the same learning experiences as them, specifically, how to survive in a hostile ten thousand year old world. 

I often claim that there are few modern-day people who could survive in North America ten thousand years ago and I believe that.  What would most of us do without our homes or doctors or smart phones or cars or television or grocery stores or fast food restaurants or
Figure Two - GHOSTS OF THE HEART, the second book in the
SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. Available at Amazon.com 
policemen or modern weapons?

How tough were these Paleoindians? Archaeological evidence can demonstrate this,  but first, I am enclosing an excerpt from the second book of the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY, that shows what one Paleoindian named Kangi was confronted with. How would  you deal with this situation?   

……….Squatting alongside the game trail was a grizzly bear cub, about the size of a small wolf dog. With his heart racing in his chest, Kangi glanced across the meadow, looking for the location of the mother. Instead he spotted another grizzly bear cub running straight towards him, making woofing and snorting sounds.   

 
Then the bear cub that was squatted on the game trail finally noticed Kangi and it rolled over onto its feet and immediately began bawling loudly. Kangi turned around quickly towards the tunnel, hoping to make a quick escape, but he ran right into the first hunter coming out.

A-ah! – Watch out!” Kangi screamed. “Mato! - Bear!”

The hunter appeared confused when Kangi shoved him back into the pine branch tunnel.

HOPPO! – LET US GO!” Kangi yelled, shoving the hunter into the tunnel.  

Coming to her cub’s rescue, the grizzly bear sow lunged through the water of the mountain stream, leaving a massive wake behind her. She was across the stream in two lunges and barreled across the meadow at full speed. With her head held low, she grunted loudly as her thick body shimmered and swayed. She closed the gap to Kangi with astonishing speed.

Kangi shoved the hunter into the deceptive safety of the tunnel, but there was still no room for him. Kangi turned to face the grizzly bear sow instead. He placed the butt of a spear into his spear thrower and raised the spear above his shoulder. He reared back his arm and with his entire body, he launched the spear at the charging bear. The spear left the spear thrower with tremendous speed, its trajectory heading straight at the massive grizzly bear sow’s skull. By the time the spear arrived at the grizzly bear sow, she had traveled much closer to Kangi. The spear flew harmlessly over her back, ricocheting off the rocks of the mountain stream. Kangi was just notching another spear when the humongous grizzly bear slammed into him, knocking him a good distance across the meadow where he landed hard on his stomach. With the wind knocked out of him, Kangi attempted to crawl away, but before he got very far, the grizzly bear landed on top of him with her front paws.  

MATO! MATO!” the hunters screamed at each other in the tunnel, pushing and shoving each other back down the game trail. Chayton held his ground until the frightened hunters, heading in the opposite direction, plowed right over him.       

The grizzly bear sow pounced up and down on top of Kangi’s back, driving him into the soil of the meadow………..


Figure Three - The proposed orientation of the burial of Kennewick Man
along the Columbia River in Washington.  
What happened to Kangi? Well, you will have to read GHOSTS OF THE HEART to find out, but I hope you understand the point I was attempting to make. Living in Prehistoric America was not for the weak or timid.   

How rough was life in North America thousands of years ago? For that answer, let's look at  archaeological evidence. Some of the best archaeological evidence we have comes from prehistoric skeletons which are rare, especially skeletons from our First Americans or Paleoindians.


One of the more famous and controversial prehistoric skeletons ever found was named Kennewick Man. Some of the more renowned forensic scientists in the country  studied the prehistoric skeleton of Kennewick Man. Authors Douglas W. Owsley and Richard J. Lantz documented the controversial history of this skeleton and their findings in an excellent book entitled KENNEWICK MAN The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton. I took my information below from this groundbreaking book.   

Let me introduce you to nine thousand year old Kennewick Man through his facial reconstruction in Figure Four. He came later than the Folsom
Figure Four - Forensic reconstruction
of Kennewick Man's face.  
People in my SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY by about seventeen hundred years, but as an early hunter and gatherer, he had the same lifestyle as the Folsom People.


Two college students discovered Kennewick Man's skull in 1996 along the banks of the Columbia River in Washington. Scientists believe he was between 35 to 39 years old at the time of his death. They estimated that he was 5’7” or 5’8” tall and weighed around 162 lbs.






Thirty-five years old is young in the context of modern-day life expectancies, but by this time in his relative young life, Kennewick Man had already experienced some very traumatic health issues. The scientists determined that he had several healed depression wounds on his skull and he may have been hard of hearing. Kennewick Man was right handed and there were indications that his arms had gone through strenuous use.  

Figure Five - Throwing a spear dozens of times per day,
using an atlatl, would damage anyone's shoulder.  
The scientists found that while Kennewick Man’s left shoulder had normal morphology, his right shoulder or his throwing shoulder exhibited degenerative wear and tear, arthritis, possible cartilage erosion, and a rim fracture of his right scapula. Since Kennewick Man’s survival depended on throwing spears at fleeing animals, we should expect some shoulder wear and tear, just as we would expect it from a major league baseball pitcher or a NFL quarterback.


Figure Six - Kennewick Man's teeth
were wore down to a nub. 
In addition, Kennewick Man’s upper arms showed humeri asymmetrical in both size and shape. The scientists determined that Kennewick Man had atrophy of his left humerus with right side bowing. The scientists postulated that a left arm fracture in his early life caused the condition. Of course, 'Kennewick Boy' did not have a doctor to go to for his arm fracture.   

 Kennewick Man’s teeth were not in any better shape. He was missing a molar and he had pronounced teeth wear. Molar attrition suggested that he ate food contaminated with fine abrasives and courser particles, such as sand. His tooth wear suggested he used his teeth for more than just chewing food. It appears that Kennewick Man used his teeth in task-oriented activities, such as hide preparation and cutting. 
 


What about his chest? Kennewick Man had healed fractures in at least five ribs on his right side with a failure of those ribs to reunite. He also received a possible left rib fracture at the same time the right rib fractures occurred. The scientists found no indication of infection or significant blood supply issue associated with the ribs. They postulated that this was another young adult injury. Perhaps, Kennewick Man had a collision with a three-thousand pound Bison antiquus?
Figure Seven - I just broke my ribs, so I know how Kennewick
Man felt. The difference was his fight for survival continued.   

Kennewick Man also had bad knees. He had osteochondritis in his knees caused from damage of the meniscus, which then eroded cartilage and eventually went bone on bone. The scientists could tell that he lived with inflammation of the cartilage or bone in the knee. In real cases, bone under the knee cartilage can die due to lack of blood flow and then bone and cartilage can then break loose, causing pain. This type of injury comes from the habitual loading of a tightly flexed knee.  

Then, there was the pièce de résistance of injuries. Kennewick Man had a stone projectile point imbedded in his right posterior ilium. The stone projectile had been in his hipbone long enough for bone to grow over it. Scientists speculate that the possible symptoms for this injury could have included pus drainage for the rest of his life. He might have had a moderate degree of pain, all of the time. He might have had anorexia, sleeplessness, derangement of secretions, great irritability and despondency. An analysis of his leg bones indicated that Kennewick Man had no lasting / significant mobility loss from this injury. The scientists believe that this injury occurred in Kennewick Man’s teen or young adult years. 
Figure Eight - Not many people can brag they
have a stone spear point in their hip. Ouch!






















So, you think you are tough enough to be  a Paleoindian, one of our First Americans? Not me. These people had a real tough existence. They could not dial 911 when they needed help or go to the doctor if they did not feel well or call a cop if they got into a bind. They were on their own, for better or for worse. So, next time we are feeling sorry for ourselves, think about Kennewick Man and what he had to endure. Amazing, all of a sudden, I feel a whole lot better about my aches and pains. ;).


So, now your next assignment is to read the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY to see how accurately I painted a picture of life 10,700 years ago. Then, let me know what YOU think!