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Mon Jan 14, 2013, 06:21 PM

4,000-year-old shaman’s stones discovered near Boquete, Panama

4,000-year-old shaman’s stones discovered near Boquete, Panama

Archaeologists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama have discovered a cluster of 12 unusual stones in the back of a small, prehistoric rock-shelter near the town of Boquete. The cache represents the earliest material evidence of shamanistic practice in lower Central America.

Ruth Dickau, Leverhulme Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Exeter in England, unearthed the cache of stones in the Casita de Piedra rock-shelter in 2007. A piece of charcoal found directly underneath the cache was radiocarbon dated to 4,800 years ago. A second fragment of charcoal in a level above the cache was dated to 4,000 years ago.

“There was no evidence of a disturbance or pit feature to suggest someone had come along, dug a hole and buried the stones at a later date,” Dickau said. “The fact that the stones were found in a tight pile suggests they were probably deposited inside a bag or basket, which subsequently decomposed.”

Based on the placement and the unusual composition of the stones in the cache, Richard Cooke, STRI staff scientist, suggested they were used by a shaman or healer. Consulting geologist Stewart Redwood determined that the cache consists of a small dacite stone fashioned into a cylindrical tool; a small flake of white, translucent quartz; a bladed quartz and jarosite aggregate; a quartz crystal aggregate; several pyrite nodules that showed evidence of use; a small, worn and abraded piece of chalcedony; a magnetic andesite flake; a large chalcedony vein stone; and a small magnetic kaolinite stone naturally eroded into an unusual shape, similar to a flower.


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Reply 4,000-year-old shaman’s stones discovered near Boquete, Panama (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 OP
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 04:21 PM

1. Healing Crystals From Panama’s First Shaman

Healing Crystals From Panama’s First Shaman
By Breanna Draxler | January 15, 2013 12:52 pm

[font size=1]
Stones from a pre-Colombian shaman’s cache in Boquete, Panama.
stash of stones uncovered in a prehistoric dwelling in Panama could be the earliest evidence of traditional healing, or shamanic practice, in lower Central America.

Archaeologists used radiocarbon dating of charcoal samples located directly above and below the stones to estimate that the stones were left in the dwelling sometime between 4,000 and 4,800 years ago. Since the stones were clustered together, the researchers say the collection was probably deposited in a container that has since decomposed.

The twelve stones, unearthed by archaeologists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, included quartz and pyrite among other rocks, many of which had been fashioned into tools or showed signs of wear and tear from human use. Since these types of stones are not typically found in this region of Panama, researchers have suggested the collection was carefully curated for a specific purpose, such as shamanism. Today traditional healers in this area often use similar crystals for rituals and transformative experiences, which suggest that their prehistoric predecessors may have done the same.

The prehistoric shelter has been studied on numerous occasions since it’s discovery in 1970, but the stones weren’t found until 2007. Their significance was described in a recent paper in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. The first occupants of the stone shelter made it their home more than 9,000 years ago, long before the supposed shaman and his crystals took up residence there. The effectiveness of the shaman’s crystals, however, is not so apparent in the fossil record.

Image courtesy of Ruth Dickau.


(Short article, no more at link.)

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