Cave 1, Panel 5, Glyph 212, uncalibrated C-14 date of AD 950 +/- 70 reported by Diaz-Granados et al (2015: Figure 5.4, Table 5.1). XRF 50 and 53 on Black arm with pelt: Silicon = 92.034% +/- 4.22, Aluminum = 5.188% +/- 0.57, Iron = 2.719% +/- 0.549; PPM analysis: Antimony = 32.75 +/- 7.27, Strontium = 30.94 +/- 6.66, Cadmium = 11.98 +/- 5.01, Silver = 50.1 +/- 17.89, Zirconium = 34.89 +/- 4.46, Iron = 1259.95 +/- 38.07, Chromium = 107.23 +/- 49.59, Barium = 369.04 +/- 27.29, Strontium = 8.62 +/- 1.5, Ruhidium = 4.96 +/- 1.12.


XRF 51 and 52 on unpainted wall below arm: Silicon = 90.393% +/- 1.458, Aluminum = 8.13% +/- 0.321, Iron = 1.37% +/- 0.197, Niobium = 0.102% +/- 0.044. PPM analysis: Antimony = 48.03 +/- 7.6, 

Tin = 43.68 +/- 6.98, Cadmium = 13.3 +/- 5.19, Silver 71.45 +/- 25.52, Zirconium = 31.02 +/- 4.57, Iron = 1041.42 +/- 36.29, Manganese = 42.3 +/- 22.6, Barium = 397.3 +/- 28.27, Strontium = 11.09 +/- 1.6, Rubidium = 1.9 +/- 106.

[Photograph by Eric Fuller, Scale = 10 cm]


Sabo and Simek (2018: Figure 1.10) describes this as a painting where the single arm acts as if it emerges from the fissue where the wall joins the ceiling of the cave; they interpret the motif as arm with a bison effigy held in the hand and a animal pelt draped tail-down over the forearm. A sketched outline of a proportional leg extends from the same fissure; it was not filled with pigment possibly because the artist had exhausted all their pigment creating the arm and pelt. Duncan and Diaz-Granados (2018: Figure 2.12) link this pictograph with a large arm petroglyph at the Madden Creek Site (23WA26) that they identify as the "long arm" of the Spirit Being called "Sky Chief". The first illustration of this pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1d). This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 16, Figure 5.41) and identified as Bent arm and also as arm with animal pelt/medicine bag. Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.44) describe this pictograph as a filled human arm with bison, or puppet on the hand and an outlined leg, both emerging from a crack between the wall and the ceiling of the cave." Brown and Muller (2015:Figure 8.10) identify this pictograph as "pelt draped over a human arm."

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 20 - One possible reference to this type of spirit animal is found in an Osage story, 2.18 Strange Medicine Man (Garrick Bailey, Traditions of the Osages – Stories Collected and Translated by Francis La Flesche, pp. 114-117). The story describes a man, who after completing a non’zhin-zhon [Osage, rite of vigil], receives supernatural powers from a two headed animal.

Cave 2, Panel 6, Glyphs 565 and 566. [Photograph by Mark Leach]

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Video pan inside Cave 2 showing Glyph 529 (bright red zigzag design) [Video by Mark Leach]

Prof. Michael Fuller carefully entering Cave 1 while cradling the XRF instrument. [Photograph by Neathery Fuller]

Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 74. [Photograph by Mark Leach]

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyphs 10, 11, 12, and 13. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.2d). Maybe, a story of the retaliation of a Spirit Being (the Opon Tonka in the Osage creation story?) for the improper killing of a pregnant doe that is mourned by a young fawn. The Spirit Being  holds a bow with nocked arrow aimed at a black figure surrounded in a pound/ hunting corral outlined by vertical red strokes of paint. 


Kennedy (1972:52), a chief also know by his traditional name as Ochankugahe (Assiniboine, Pathmaker), described that Buffalo pounds built by the hunters of the Assinboine Nation as "a sacred rite - a sacred institution and an economic necessity, which was invoked only on rare occasions to provide tribesmen and their families with the necessities of life against the winter storms." Stevens, editor of Kennedy's (1972:53) added that the leader of the hunt had to perform a ritual before the pound could be used in order to "gain the benevolent assistance of the spirits." Maybe the Opon Tonka pictograph panel at Picture Cave shows the punishment for failure to preform the ritual before a hunt.


A Spirit Being punishing a hunter is ironically an echo of the story line of Stephen Graham Jones' (a member of the Piegan/Blackfoot nation) recent novel entitled The Only Good Indians (2020) that deals with the violation of tribal code during an elk hunt and the hunters becoming the hunted. Many thanks to Alan Westfall for taking this photograph and asking the question of its possible meaning. Punishment of a hunter is the theme of a Blackfoot story entitled "The Elk" recorded by George Bird Grinnel (1892).  Native American nations had a variety of hunting taboos. Swanton (19028:336) recorded that the Cherokee used the term ik'ana tcaka translated as "sacred or consecrated land" to designate specific landscapes that the hunters were to avoid a specific location for a specific period of time.  Funmaker (1986:76-7) wrote that his clan, the Bear Clan, "strongly" rebuked men who violated Ho-Chunk hunting taboos and that the basis of the taboos traces back to the nation's creation story; he noted that the Ho-Chunk used corrals to hunt deer.

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Mississippian two headed hawk plate found in the Wulfing cache at Malden, Mo. The left photograph is Plate B that was originally published by Fowke in 1910. The right photograph taken by Mark Leach of the artifact on display at the St. Louis Art Museum and belonging to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on the grounds of Washington University.

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Warriors holding severed head is a powerful motif in the rock art of the Fremont Culture of the Great Basin (Schaafsma 1971: Figures 3 to 7, Plate 3, 148, 153, 162) where they are considered holding trophy heads though it is also noted that they might be masks. The metaphor of a losing warrior being beheaded reminds me of David cutting off the head of Goliah in the Biblical tradition. It also reminds me of Caucac Sky, King of Quirigua, celebrating the decapitation of the King of Copan, 18 Rabbit, at a portal to the underworld (Newsome 2001).

Cave 2, Panel 5, Glyphs 540 and 541. Red trident pictographs in natural light as well as dStretch filter YRE. This precise symbol was identified by  Martineau (1973: 119, 121, Figure 62) as "movement down under" as if to mark that this was a safe cave passage to explore or hide.  Martineau used a variety of ethnographic informants to create his idea that certain glyphs had pan-Indian meanings which is often not considered a valid interpretation. Martineau documented this symbol at a cave that was used as a refuge in Mule Canyon, Arizona. Simek et al. (2015:88, Figure 6.38) illustrate and describe this pictograph as upside-down trident forms. Another possibility is that these are vulva forms; if so, they are the only examples in Picture Cave

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 130. Uncalibrated C-14 AD 1010 +/- 80 (Diaz-Granados et al 2015: Figure 5.2, Table 5.1) . XRF 59 and 62 on the blood below the chin of the Black Wrapped Warrior holding mace:  PPM analysis: Antimony = 31.26 +/- 9, Tin = 38.98 +/- 8.33, Cadmium = 17.07 +/- 6.27, Silver = 61.75 +/- 22.05, Zirconium = 31.15 +/- 5.5, Nickel = 39.46 +/- 17.54, Iron = 872.81 +/- 40.44, Barium = 435.41 +/- 34.14, and Strontium = 14.68 +/- 2


XRF 60 and 61 on nearby clean wall above figure: Silicon = 78.857 +/- 19.863 and Aluminum = 20.306 +/- 7.863. PPM analysis: Antimony = 76.86 +/- 12.26, Tin = 64.14 +/- 11.29, Cadmium = 36.01 +/- 8.49, Silver = 127.34 +/- 13.26, Zirconium = 64.78 +/- 7.65, Iron = 1335.6 +/- 63.31, Barium = 533.83 +/- 45.32, Strontium = 13.18 +/- 2.6, Rhobidium = 4.72 +/- 1.81.     [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1a). This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 14, Figure 5.48) and identified as the Kilted Figure; the photograph was credited to Philip Newell. Diaz-Granados (2004:146, Figure 17) identified this pictograph as the "Giant." Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.43) describes this as a "battle scene." Townsend (21015:152, Figure 11.7a, 11.8) describes this as a tall inclined warrior with tattoos, holding a mace in a battle scene. It is important to note that Townsend (2015:152) wrote that "an aspect of Picture Cave imagery is surely not entirely mythological or ritualistic, but must also commemorate historical events."

XRF 18 and 20 for White Left Pair Right Eye, Silicon = 63.836% +/- 2.004, Aluminum = 30.151% +/- 0.534, Iron = 5.756% +/- 0.515, and Niobium = 0.21 +/- 0.09. PPM analysis: Antimony = 50.63 +/- 9.47, Tin = 39.98 +/- 8.69, Cadmium = 23.43 +/- 6.56, Palladium = 9.75 +/- 3.51, Silver = 99.86 +/- 35.66, Zirconium = 48.12 +/- 5.88, Gold = 12.94 +/- 5.84, Zirconium = 14.06 +/- 4.79, Iron = 3726.27 +/- 79.9, Barium = 500.9 +/- 35.64, Strontium = 15.52 +/- 2.1, and Rubidium = 5.23 +/- 1.46.


XRF 16 and 21 for Unpainted Wall right or right pair, PPM analysis: Antimony = 65.24 +/- 9.27, Tin = 46.57 +/- 8.47, Cadmium = 19.14 +/- 6.31, Silver = 100.31 +/- 9.97, Zirconium = 36.02 +/- 5.57, Zinc = 18.98, Iron = 6038.07 +/- 97.62, Manganese 59.24 +/- 28.98, Barium = 523.12 +/- 34.61, Strontium = 18.2 +/- 2.09, Rubidium = 5.28 +/- 1.4. [Photograph by Eric Fuller, Scale = 1 meter]


What is the white pigment? Not Lead. Not Barite. The high % of Aluminum makes it highly likely that in-kon-ba,  (Osage, transparent stone = mica) was the mineral component of the pigment; the Osage term comes from LaFlesche (1932:77, 293). Fletcher and La Flesche (2911: 451) recorded that the Omaha nation used burnt mica (takon-icon-the) to whiten sinew. Mica shows up as an "unexplained" trade material at Mississippian Sites in Missouri (Dampier, Bridgeton, Illinois (Cahokia, Granite City), and Oklahoma (Craig Mounds at Spiro). Funmaker (1986:90) reports that kaolin clay was used by the Ho-Chunk to create white paint.

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 58. Head in profile with elaborate headdress (a decapitated elite?) painted on top of a stylized  bird (Glyph 57). Another way to read this pictograph is that she is descending/emerging from the toothy mouth of the Underworld Monster.  [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1e) based upon a drawing by Timothy McLandsborough. 

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 122 (3 red lines) XRF 40 and 41 Left Vertical Red Line: above the Black Warrior: Silicon = 85.572% +/- 7.015, Aluminum = 6.913% +/- 1.867, and Iron = 7.361% +/- 1.586. PPM analysis: Antimony = 82.26 +.- 11.22, Tin = 64.3 +/- 10.26, Cadmium = 16.38 +/- 7.51, Silver = 95.29 +/- 34.03, Zirconium = 40.33 +/- 6.7, Iron = 3651.51 +/- 91.59, Barium = 454.48 +/- 40.95, Strontium = 14.3 +/- 2.39, and Rubidium = 3.52 +/- 1.58.  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.7, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Oxygen, Silicon, and Iron;  Minor elements: Aluminum. % or PPM were not reported.]


XRF 39 and 42 Unpainted Wall nearby: Silicon = 95.286% +/- 2.649. Aluminum = 4.169% +/- 0.883, and Iron = 0.492% +/- 0.108.. PPM analysis: Antimony = 52.94 +/- 7.8, Tin = 30.21 +/- 7.03, Cadmium = 15.62 +/- 5.32, Silver = 56.44 +/- 20.16, Zirconium = 36.99 +/- 20.16, Gold = 12.95 +/- 4.74, Iron = 610.14 +/- 29.85, Barium = 382.78 +/- 28.85, and Strontium = 8.9 +/- 1.59. XRF 39 and 42 Unpainted Wall below bow: Silicon = 95.286% +/- 2.649. Aluminum = 4.169% +/- 0.883, and Iron = 0.492% +/- 0.108.. PPM analysis: Antimony = 52.94 +/- 7.8, Tin = 30.21 +/- 7.03, Cadmium = 15.62 +/- 5.32, Silver = 56.44 +/- 20.16, Zirconium = 36.99 +/- 20.16, Gold = 12.95 +/- 4.74, Iron = 610.14 +/- 29.85, Barium = 382.78 +/- 28.85, and Strontium = 8.9 +/- 1.59. [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.7, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Oxygen, and Silicon;  Minor elements: none reported. % or PPM were not reported.] [Photograph by Eric Fuller, Scale = 10 cm] 

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Video pan inside Cave 1 showing Glyph 139 (a Victor standing over the body of a slain individual) [Video by Mark Leach]

Picture Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 134 identified as by Cressler and Simek (2015:282) as an anthropomorphic with open mouth and a black disk between the teeth. Maybe this pictograph could be interpreted as Beads-Spits-Out. This pictograph is illustrated in drawings (Diaz-Granados 1993: Figure 27.2a and b; Diaz-Granados and Duncan 2000:Figure 5.48)



Stephen Return Riggs (1893:144 - 149) recorded one set of  stories concerning Wamnuha-itagosa (Lakota, "Beads-Spits-Out") in Dakota Grammer. LaFlesche (1932) does not list a Spirit Being by this name in his Osage dictionary but the words are there: wa-pshu'-shkla (Osage, beads) tha-k'i (Osage, to spit). Pauketat (2009:95) notes that the Hidasta had a tradition of two Spirit Beings with ability to create beads in their mouth: Wild Boy and the Father of the Twin Spirit Beings. Lankford (xxxx:190, 195, 196) observes that Bead-Spitter appears in a number of stories recorded for the tribes of the Southeast (Creek, Alabama, and Koasati) and Plains (Dakota, Iowa, Menomini, Arapaho, and Gros Ventre); it is particularly interesting that the Iowa version of the story has both Bead-Spitter and his father decapitated by treacherous servant. It is also interesting that several of the Bead-Spitter stories associated him with the Moon while his father was associate with the Sun.

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“He came to a slight depression in the side of a hill into which he fell and lost consciousness of all things natural and awoke to the supernatural. Before him appeared an animal, which he called ki-tha-ha-pa (Osage, Head at both ends). At each end of his body the animal had a head, and his scaly back was curved. He closed his eyes tightly and blood oozed out of the tightly closed lids; the muscles of the body contracted making the scales rise, and between them blood appeared and trickled. When this was done a great wind arose tearing the grass and breaking the tops of the tree. Then the strange animal spoke to the young man, giving him power over wind and rain and other mysterious powers. The young man decorated his shield as well as his robe with a picture of this mysterious animal.”  The story goes on to mention other strange animals appearing, but it is not known if the other animal pictographs and the human figures on this panel have any connection with Glyph 020. The red pigment appears to have run downward from the animal’s body. This could have resulted as natural drippage or could have been purposely been painted in reference to the oozing blood described in the Osage narrative. [Text by Mark Leach, 5 January 2021]

Cave 2, Panel 4, glyph 526. Cressler and Simek (2015:287) describe the red figure as an anthromorph facing left and holding a bow. [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.3c).

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Cave 1, Panel 4, Glyph 203.  XRF 54 and 57 on a Black Animal with unbranched horns: Silicon = 92.033% +/- 1.996, Aluminum = 5.699% +/- 0.382, Iron = 2.152% +/- 0.274; PPM analysis: Antimony = 57.02 +/- 7.89, Tin = 46.76 +/- 7.24, Cadmium = 23.28 +/- 5.44, Lead = 4.92 +/- 2.84, Silver = 96.29 +/- 34.39, Zirconium = 66.49 +/- 5.01, Zinc = 12.52 +/- 3.84, Nickel = 38.42 +/- 15.08, Iron = 2408.08 +/- 54.05, Barium = 505.73 +/- 29.56, Strontium = 11.12 +/- 1.65, Rubidium = 3.23 +/- 1.13 [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.6, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Carbon, Oxygen;  Minor elements: Aluminum, Silicon, Potassium, Sulfur, and Iron. % or PPM were not reported.]


XRF 55 and 58 on Unpainted Wall right of the animal: Silicon = 88.479% +/- 1.777, Aluminum = 8.418 +/- 0.452, Iron = 2.89% +/- 0.306; PPM analysis: Antimony = 31.06 +/- 7.28, Tin = 29.43 +/- 6.7, Cadmium = 12.37 +/- 5.03, Silver = 73.65 +/- 26.3, Zirconium = 35.61 +/- 4.48, Selenium = 2.43 +/- 1.47, Iron = 1166.2 +/- 36.91, Barium = 408.91 +/- 27.53, Strontium = 11.13 +/- 1.56, Mercury = 3.74 +/- 2.39.  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.6, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Oxygen, and Silicon % or PPM were not reported.]

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Two headed bird in flight, Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 35. Sean StandingBear of the Osage Nation suggests that this could represent a war party composed of both moieties of a nation such as the Osage with the Sky moiety and Earth moiety (personal communication 2021).  

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Michael and Neathery Fuller check the XRF reference samples to insure that its readings are accurate. Alan Westfall checks his 3-d imaging equipment while the other members of the team and the land owner's family enter Cave 1. 

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Cave 1, Panel 4, Glyph not numbered. Four paddlers in a canoe located above glyph 200. [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The image of paddlers in a dugout canoe appears on fragments of engraved shell cups found at Spiro Mound (Page 1981:8-9; Wood 2018: Figure 3 ). Williamson (1992:52 - 66) discussed the cosmological story of a celestial canoe among the Alabama tribe; he constructs that the bowl of the Big Dipper was called Boat of Stars. 

Aveni (2019:18) noted that Maya cosmology had paddler gods involved with recreating the earth after a cataclysmic destruction, but more importantly played a role in ferrying the dead over the underworld river which is connected to the Milky Way. He links the the carved bone from Tikal, showing Jaguar Paddler and Sting Ray Paddler transporting the sprouting Young Maize God over the Milky Way on their way to the place of creation (Aveni 2019:62-63).

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph  73. [Photograph by Mark Leach]

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Cave 2, Panel 4, Glyph 538. [Photograph by Mark Leach] Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.37) described this pictograph as human with equipment crossed overhead. 

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dStretch analysis and labels on the photograph by Alan Cressler. One interpretation of this pictograph panels is that a kneeling warrior with a forked eye in the process of shapeshifting from a crow to a human [Alan Westfall observation]. The shape shifting imagery is reminiscent of the Ho-Chunk creation story told by One-Who-Wins who was the mentor of Walter Funmaker (1986:6-7). Overlaying the warrior may be the image of a multilated individual/child with a blank circle for a head; a ghost-like figure walks away from the scene with an identical blank circle for a head [Michael Fuller observation]. Diaz-Granados (2015:197, Figure 15.16) identifies the kneeling figure as Snake Hide (the Great Serpent). 

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 64. Cressler and Simek (2015:274) describe this pictograph as a frog or toad. In contrast, Alt (2017:231) has identified this pictograph as First Woman shown lying on her back with legs drawn up while the great serpent approaches. The flattened frog motif, based upon Mayan parallels, was argued as a symbol of water in the 19th century by Parry (1894:202). My first impression looking at this pictograph on the wall of the cave is that it fit into the scheme of images involving conflict. The snake is only a second way from catching the frog by its back right leg, then it will eat the defenseless frog.    [Photograph by Eric Fuller] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1c) based upon a drawing by Timothy McLandsborough, an amateur archaeologist. Simek et al (2015:Figure 6.6) describe this panel as avimorph and herpetomorph pictographs.

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Picture Cave 2, Panel 4, Glyph 532. Black figure holding a rectangular shield;  XRF readings 74 and 76: Silicon = 96.141% +/- 1.233, Aluminum = 2.357% +/- 0.225, Iron = 1.437% +/- 0.189; PPM analysis: Antimony = 65.1 +/- 8.6, Tin = 39.34 +/- 7.75, Cadmium = 23.93 +/- 5.89, Silver = 64.4 +/- 23.07, Zirconium = 35.36 +/- 5.14, Gold = 8.6 +/- 5.01, Zinc = 6.54 +/- 3.87, Iron = 1950.0 +/- 53.12, Barium = 460.38 +/- 31.82, Strontium = 6.27 +/- 4.33.  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.2, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Carbon, Oxygen and Silicon;  Minor elements: Aluminum, Potassium, and Iron. % or PPM were not reported.]


Unpainted bedrock below figure: XRF readings 75 and 77: Silicon = 96.788 +/- 1.386, Aluminum = 2.268 +/- 0.216, and Iron = 0.918 +/- 0.174; PPM Analysis: Antimony = 71.02 +/- 9.02, Strontium = 60.18 +/- 8.29, Cadmium = 14.81 +/- 6.07, Lead = 8.76 +/- 3.27, Silver = 90.75 +/- 32.41, Zirconium = 41.76 +/- 32.41, Zirconium = 41.76 +/- 5.44, Iron = 862.9 +/- 39.07, Barium = 544.96 +/- 33.62, Strontium = 9.07 +/- 1.82, Rhubidium = 2.5 +/- 1.26.  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.6, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Oxygen, and Silicon; % or PPM were not reported.][Photograph by Mark Leach] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.4a). Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.34) describe this pictograph as an anthropomorphic.

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Cave 2, Panel 4, Glyph 518. [Photograph by Mark Leach]

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Three hour glass pictographs from Cave 2, Panel 6, glyphs 565 and 566. Cressler and Simek (2015:300) identified two hour glass forms, but three seem clearly visible in the dStretch image. One of our first impression is that these resemble the patterns on the abdomen of a female Black Widow spider (Latrodectus macrons). It can also be seen as a design that would resemble a woven basket or cloth belt.


A more plausible ethnographic parallel to the hourglass pictographs comes from recent ethnographic research among the Lakota Sioux that was conducted by Goodman (1992: 16). His informants identify this symbol as Kapemni which means "twisting" with the top cone as the symbol of the sun/stars and the bottom cone as the symbol of the earth; "what is above is like what is below - what is below is like what is above." The best way to describe this symbol as the connection between Sun-Earth, the celestial and terrestrial (https://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2005/na/lakota.htm). 

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 115. Identified by Simek and Cressler (2015:276) as an abstract design with "vaguely avian [bird] characteristics. It is situated directly behind the running warrior (glyph 123) who holds a mace in his left hand and a bow-and-arrow in his right hand. Double headed bird of war!

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 059. Described as a toothy mouth by Cressler and Simek (2015:274).  [Photograph by Eric Fuller]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1e) based upon a drawing by Timothy McLandsborough, an amateur archaeologist. This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 15) though the illustration focused on the "wall of turkey/bird motifs and serpents." Riley (2015:Figure 10.6) identifies this pictograph as "Beneath World Spirit III: front-facing effigy with toothy mouth."

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 007.   XRF 24 and 25 is Red Dot in Center:  Silicon = 75.232% +/- 1.175, Aluminum  = 8.569% +/- 0.37, Iron = 14.773% +/- 0.601; PPM analysis: Antimony = 50.39 +/- 7.59, Tin = 55.05 +/- 7.08, Cadmium = 12.56 +/- 5.17, Palladium = 4.43 +/- 2.74, Silver = 94.36 +/- 33.7, Zirconium = 22.93 +/- 4.5, Gold = 12.27 +/- 4.62,  Zinc = 11.01 +/- 3.71, Nickel = 57.76 +/- 14.75, Iron = 27719.21 +/- 171.31, Manganese = 44.43 +/- 25.63, Chromium = 121.51 +/- 55.45, Barium = 506.12 +/- 28.67, Strontium = 11.54 +/- 1.61, Rubidium = 3.75 +/- 1.13.


XRF 23 and 26 is Red Outer Circle: Silicon = 65.777% +/- 1.611, Aluminum = 17.329% +/- 0.495, Iron = 16.86% +/- 0.883; PPM analysis: Antimony = 55.76 +/- 7.94, Tin = 53.65 +/- 7.33, Cadmium = 24.69 +/- 5.49, Palladium = 5.34 +/- 2.86, Silver = 90.05 +/- 32.16, Zirconium = 32.37 +/- 4.76, Zinc = 13.96 +/- 4.01, Copper = 15.59 +/- 7.92, Nickel = 24.77 +/- 14.88, Iron = 21766.29 +/- 157.77, Chromium = 89.88 +/- 55.72, Barium = 472.68 +/- 29.64, Strontium = 16.14 +/- 1.76  [Analysis by SEM- EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.9, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Oxygen, Silicon, and Iron;  Minor elements: Aluminum, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Calcium. % or PPM were not reported. Blankenship does not elaborate on whether she tested the out circle on red dot, but it is assumed to be the same pigment.]


XRF 22 and 27 Unpainted Wall above and left of the outer circle: Silicon = 93.949%, Aluminum = 4.177% +/- 0.271, Iron = 1.808% +/- 0.202; PPM analysis: Antimony = 63.8 +/- 8.94, Tin = 48.8 +/- 8.16, Cadmium = 17.39 +/- 6.07, 80.15 +/- 28.62, Zirconium = 24.24 +/- 5.25, Zinc = 7.22 +/- 4.04, Nickel = 46.72 +/- 17.02, Iron = 1844.27 +/- 53.96, Barium = 437.29 +/- 33.01, Strontium = 16.09 +/- 1.97.  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.6, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Carbon, Oxygen and Silicon ;  Minor elements: Manganese, Aluminum, Silicon, Phosphorus, Potassium, Titanium, and Iron. % or PPM were not reported.].   [Photographed by Eric Fuller, Scale = 1 meter]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.2d). Two possible identifications: the Sun or a war shield. I prefer the interpretation of a shield; it is very close to the shield Catlin sketched in 1834 belonging to an Osage warrior named Tal-lee. Black spokes (recognized by Douglas Porter using dStretch filter ybk) radiate from the center to the edge and support the shield interpretation. Brown and Muller (2015:Figure 8.4) describe this pictograph as a dot-in-circle image.

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Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.1) describes glyph 104 as "created by abrading patinated sandstone to create white graphic in conjunction with a line drawing in black." If this is true, then why was that technique used more widely? It appears to me as a thin wash of a pigment. An obvious answer would be Lead, but that is not supported by the XRF analysis.


Duncan and Diaz-Granados (2018: Figure 2.10) identify the figure with the white body as "Morning Star" in the oral tradition of the Osage and other nations belonging to the group termed Dhegihan (Sioux). Dye (2015:172, Figure 12.4) labels the figure as "Morning Star" in the caption to a photograph, but his narrative identifies the figure as "Red Horn" of the tradition of the Ioway and Winnebago.  Pala Townsend (2015:Figure 18.1) identifies the painting as a "warrior with trophy head and fallen deer." The first illustration of this pictograph were prepared by Diaz-Granados (1993: Figure 27.1a and b) based upon slides taken Joseph Walsh, a cave explorer. This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 17, Figure 6.6a and b) and identified as Red Horn. Diaz-Granados (2004:148, Figure 20) identified this pictograph as Morning Star (or He-Who-Wears-Human-Heads-in-His-Ears). Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2004:148 Figure 9.5) identify this pictograph as "Morning Star, alias "He-who-wears humans-heads-as-earrings or He-who-is-hit-with-deer-lungs (and also referred to as Red Horn or Hawk." Duncan and Diaz-Granados (2004:Figure 12.18) identify this pictograph as Morning Star.  Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.18) identify this pictograph as "detailed anthropomorphic holding a bow." Brown and Muller (2015:Figure 8.1) identify this pictograph as wearing long-nose god earring. Richard Townsend (2015:Figure 11.3) describes this image as a "triumphant figure of the Hero Morning Star brandishing a head and a bow; he wears a long-nosed face ear ornament, and a set of five arrows is directed to his forehead."


This pictograph, and several others in Picture Cave, are perfect examples of polysemic images: multiple meanings or messages can be attributed to a single image (Rogers 2018:236-7). Simms and Gohier (2010:4) write that interpreting rock art is by its nature an exercise of "informed conjecture" and we totally agree.


Our impression of this complex image, when seen firsthand, is that the pictograph represents an actual person - a warrior who has taken the head of an elite individual - the act of  Pa wa-thu-ce (Osage, cutting off the head). The Osage warrior who cut off the head of an enemy then approached the sacred bird [hawk] and made his claims to the o-don (war honors), which is known by this name (LaFleshe 1932:126).  At least 3 examples of engraved shell imagery from Spiro in Oklahoma shows dancers with trophy heads Dye (2007: Figure 7.1a-c) as well as the Potter Gorget from Southeast Missouri and  illustrated by Alban Jasper Conant (1879) and Shetrone (1930).

"Several" burials in the mound at the Mississippian site of Upper Nodena were buried with "what appears to be trophy skulls" (Dye 2007, 171) and at least one of the Mississippian burials at the Campbell Site (23PM5) was discovered with an associated skull that probably represented a trophy (James Price, personal communication 24 October 2020). Removing heads (and hands) from adult males during the 11th century at Cahokia Mounds is graphically illustrated by the 4 mutilated burials in feature 106 within mound 72 (Fowler et al, 1999:69-70, Figure 6.6). A decapitated burial was excavated at the McKinney Site in Illinois as well as evidence of decapitation at a number of other sites dating from the Late Prehistoric Period  (Hollinger 2005: 172-173, 209, 219, 224, 264, 268).


If a historic person, then the dead deer under the left arm of the figure (with a bow, arrow and broken arrow) might be symbolic of the warrior: Deerslayer-who-made-peace. The name underneath the figure was done intentionally to stop any misunderstanding of the painting. It is the same reason that an Ancient Greek painting placed the name of SARPEDON next to his painting of a slain Trojan warrior. Pauketat (2009:97) discussed the Red Horn epic and links the Gottschall artwork, in Wisconsin, with "the social upheaval and conflicts that resulted from Cahokia's Big Bang." We believe that both Mississippian imagery in Picture Cave and Gottschall shelter rock art have a historical basis.


The idea of warrior images (with decapitated heads) represent historic figures in Fremont Rock art has been put forward by Grohier (2009) to counter the longstanding explanation of the Vernal style Fremont Rock represented Spirit Beings.

Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 015 - Black serpent with mouth open slithers across the cave wall. [Photograph by Mark Leach] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.2d).

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Cave 2, Panel x, Glyph x. [Photograph by Mark Leach] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.4a).

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 004. Cressler and Simek (2015:186) described his figure as holding a oval shaped human head in the arm that extends left. [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.2d). Eric Fuller proposes that the fringe hanging from the arms are scalp locks based upon the Catlin (1841: Figure 153, 41) drawing of Clermont, son of Chief Clermont of the Osage, wearing leggings fringed with scalp-locks. Catlin (1841:Figures 11, 143 and 271, 27, 29, 194-196) sketched and described several Plains warriors wearing scalp fringed regalia including Asan-Zan-na (Assinboine, In the Light), Stu-mick-o-súcks (Piegan, Buffalo Bull's Back Fat), and No-way-ke-sug-ga (Otoe, He who strikes two at once); the Piegan's regalia include scalp locks taken from French trappers among the more numerous scalp locks taken from other Native American tribes. The scalp fringed shirt resembles the design on one of the engraved shell cups found at Spiro Mounds, Oklahoma. 

     Simms and Gohier (2010:91) provides another perspective on scalps portrayed in the Fremont rock art in the Southwest USA; they argue that "scalps were tools to bring rain and promote abundance from agriculture and nature." It is possible that scalps in Mississippian art reflected symbols of military prowess, but also a linkage with rainfall.

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 12.    XRF 38 and 43 for Black Warrior center of body : Silicon = 96.189% +/- 3.144, Aluminum = 1.973 +/- 0.892, Iron = 1.651 +/-  0.256, Niobium = 0.115 +/- 0.041. PPM analysis: Antimony = 57.09 +/- 9.71, Tin = 38.92 +/- 8.83, Cadmium = 1.74 +/- 6.6, Silver = 76.67 +/- 27.38, Zirconium 24.3 +/- 27.38, Selenium = 3.6 +/- 2.02, Iron = 2512.53 +/- 67.89, Chromium = 180 +/- 68.22, Barium = 375.85 +/- 35.75, Strontium = 9.17 +/- 1.98, Arsenic = 4.92 +/- 2.96.


XRF 39 and 42 Unpainted Wall below bow: Silicon = 95.286% +/- 2.649. Aluminum = 4.169% +/- 0.883, and Iron = 0.492% +/- 0.108.. PPM analysis: Antimony = 52.94 +/- 7.8, Tin = 30.21 +/- 7.03, Cadmium = 15.62 +/- 5.32, Silver = 56.44 +/- 20.16, Zirconium = 36.99 +/- 20.16, Gold = 12.95 +/- 4.74, Iron = 610.14 +/- 29.85, Barium = 382.78 +/- 28.85, and Strontium = 8.9 +/- 1.59. [Photograph by Eric Fuller, Scale = 10 cm]


Duncan and Diaz-Granados (2018:Figure 2.11) identifies this pictograph as "the Man of Mystery, Gray or Dark Wolf." Dye (2017:72) adds that Black Warrior could be identified as "Wild Twin or Spring Boy (aka Lightning Boy, Long Teeth, and Thrown-Away)." Diaz-Granados (2004:Figure 15) described this as "Black Warrior." Brown and Muller (2015:Figure 8.2) identify this pictograph as figure holding a mace form. Duncan et al. (2015:Figure 9.1, 126-127) link this pictograph, Black Warrior, with the Osage tradition of the "The Man of Mystery" - the "Big Soldier" or protector. Townsend (2015:Figure 115) describes this pictograph as "Running warrior holding a mace and down and arrow." 


This pictograph, like the Morning Star pictograph, appears more an individualistic expression - a biographical representation that may have both real and mythic overtones. This is a heroic portrait with symbols of violence to remind the viewer that these ancestors had been fierce warriors. Just like the image of morning star, he is shown posturing in a shamanistic ritual. Certainly his power was also economic, political, and military. This "reading" of Picture Cave rock art parallels the way that Simms and Gohier (2010:113) interpret the McConkie/Dry Fork rock art belonging to the Fremont culture in the Southwest.

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Closeup Photograph by Alan Cressler and posted on Flickr. Panel 4 (glyph 192).

Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 104, Center of white body,  XRF  reading #30 Silicon = 96.310% +/- 3.943, Aluminum = 3.067% +/- 01.098, Iron = 0.516% +/- 0.141 
XRF #34 ppm reading, Antimony = 47.07 +/- 8.32, Tin = 30.61 +/- 7.55, Cadmium 16.45 +/- 5.71, Palladium = 7.47 +/- 3.05, Silver = 57.55 +/- 20.95, Zirconium = 38.09 +/- 5.08, Tungsten = 31.52 +/- 16.67, Iron = 355.48 +/- 26.58, Barium = 422.09 +/- 31.05, Strontium = 14.44 +/- 1.82

Cave 2, Panel 1, Glyphs 508 and 509 on Two Black Animals. XRF 84 PPM analysis: Antimony = 69.22 +/- 9.38, Tin = 46.92 +/- 8.52, Cadmium = 14.96 +/- 6.32, Silver = 81.7 +/- 29.18, Zirconium = 36.74 +/- 5.61, Gold = 11.17 +/- 5.61, Iron = 786.27 +/- 39.28, Manganese = 44.38 +/- 27.71, Barium = 492.46 +/- 34.76, and Strontium = 11.05 +/- 1.94.

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Cave 1, Panel 4, Glyph 527. Described as eleven short red vertical marks. [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.2c). Another hunting corral?
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Picture Cave 1

23WN79 

Cave 1, Panel 1, glyph 069. XRF 44 and 47 on the Black Figure holds bow (right of Black Bird): Silicon = 94.846% +/- 1.459, Aluminum = 4.018% +/- 0.304, Iron = 1.013 +/- 0.176; PPM analysis: Antimony = 59.37 +/- 7.6, Tin = 33.37 +/- 6.86, Cadmium = 16.74 +/- 5.17, Palladium = 4.92 +/- 2.73, Silver = 71.12 +/- 25.4.  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.8, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Carbon, Oxygen, and Silicon;  Minor elements: Aluminum, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Iron. % or PPM were not reported.]


XRF 45 and 46 on nearby clean wall: Silicon = 95.781% +/- 1.508, Aluminum = 3.59%+/- -.403, Iron = 0.518% +/- 0.116, Niobium = 0.09% +/- 0.033; PPM analysis: Anthony = 55.15 +/- 8.25, Tin = 34.92 +/- 7.5, Cadmium = 11.87 +/- 5.59, Silver = 87.01 +/- 31.07, Zirconium 33.66 +/- 4.96, Selenium = 2.83 +/- 1.66, Iron = 433.31 +/- 27.95, Barium = 414.81 +/- 30.6, and Strontium = 9.37 +/- 1.69.  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.8, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Carbon, Oxygen, and Silicon;  Minor elements: Aluminum, Potassium, Flourine, and Niobium. % or PPM were not reported.].  [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1e) based upon a drawing by Timothy McLandsborough, an amateur archaeologist. 

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 120. Cressler and Simek (2015:280) describes this pictograph as a thick bodied Spirit Being with tall antlers drawn in outline form. Two arrows piece the back of the creature.  [Photograph by Eric Fuller] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.5b). Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.17) identify this pictograph as "large antlered beast." Riley (2015:136, Figure 10.5) identifies this pictograph as Beneath World Spirit II which resembles a "bear or beaver." Townsend (2015:149, Figure 11.4) identifies this pictograph as a bear shot with arrows. The death of a particularly vicious bear fits into the hunting motif of several pictographs at Picture Cave.

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Cave 2, Panel 4, Glyph 530. [Photograph by Mark Leach]

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 120. Cressler and Simek (2015:280) note that a "shadow" of the snarling creature appears to the left; it also has an open mouth with teeth and curved antlers at the top of the head. Another way to think about this pictograph is that there are two antlered creatures/monsters who hunt as a pair.  [Photograph by Eric Fuller]

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 125. A pictograph that Cressler and Simak (2015:281) identify as "herptemorph" indicating that they view the glyph like a snake. There is another possibility.  The heart shaped face, eyes and mouth parallels Barn Owl petroglyphs of the Klamath nation David (2021);  barn owls see in the dark - the red paint in its eyes mark it as a creature of the underworld. Barn owl imagery in Mississippian art are known from a variety of sites including the Fierce Owl Site (23SL18). Norml photography and dStretch filter YBK.

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Video pan inside Cave 2 of Panel 6 showing warriors (Glyphs 543 and 545) and the dry racks (Glyph 562) 

The XRF analysis was conducted with a Niton XL2 made by Thermo Scientific that was rented from Eco-Rental Solutions, LLC.


The Niton XL2 was checked against standards for accuracy the day before it was used, checked in the field, then rechecked when it was returned to St. Louis. In all three checks, it performed within acceptable thresholds for scientific and industrial applications.

Cave x, Panel x, Glyph x. [Photograph by Mark Leach]

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Cave 1, 19th century graffiti. This date is interpreted as 1897; it is one of the oldest historic graffiti in the cave. [dstretched image of a photography by Michael Fuller]

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Picture Cave 2, Panel 1, Glyph 505, Red Rattlesnake created by short line segments - XRF readings 79 and 81: Silicon = 93.498% +/- 1.825, Aluminum = 4.731% +/- 0.586, Iron = 1.613% +- 0.203; PPM analysis: Antimony = 40.57 +/- 7.75, Tin = 28.63 +/- 7.06, Cadmium = 14.42 +/- 5.33, Lead = 4.73 +/- 2.81, Silver = 67.16 +/- 23.99, Zirconium = 19.38 +/- 4.58, Iron = 1625.55 +/- 45.04, Barium = 385.95 +/- 28.96, Strontium = 6.7 +/- 1.55.


Unpainted bedrock XRF readings 80 and 82. Silicon = 95.255% +/- 1.34, Aluminum = 3.949% +/- 0.358, Iron = 0.668% +/- 0.122, Niobium = 0.07% +/- 0.032; PPM analysis: Antimony = 46.97 +/- 7.34, Tin = 42.24 +/- 6.75, Cadmium = 7.53 +/- 4.97, Lead = 4.17 +/- 2.65, Silver = 69.86 +/- 24.95, Zirconium = 20.64 +/- 4.33, Gold = 9.76 +/- 4.36, Iron = 621.56 +/- 28.55, Barium = 413.64 +/- 27.43, Strontium = 7.6 +/- 1.48, Rubidium = 1.73 +/- 1.03. Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.32) describe this pictograph as serpent executed in "pointelle" technique.

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Cave 2, Panel 4, Glyph 519. [Photograph by Mark Leach}

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Alan Westfall using a handheld 3-D scanner inside Picture Cave. [Photograph by Mark Leach]

Cave 1, Panel 3, Glyph 043, uncorrected C-14 date of AD 1000 +/- 100 (Diaz-Granados et al. 2015:Figure 5.3, Table 5,1).  XRF reading 14  Black Nose of Antlered Serpent: Silicon = 94.905% +/- 1.444, Aluminum = 3.712% +/- 0.267, Iron = 1.186%, and Niobium = 0.13% +/- 0.045. XRF reading 15 for Black Left Eye: Silicon = 87.767% +/- 4.883, Aluminum = 4.221% +/- 1.404, Iron = 1.076 +/- 0.224.


XRF 13 Unpainted Wall right of face: Silicon = 95.501% +/- 1.259, Aluminum = 3.758% +/- 0.272, Iron = 0.695% +/- 0.141.      [Photographed by Mark Leach; streaming video by Mark Leach]

Simik and Cressler (2015:Figure 2.7) identify the image as a large serpent with antlers and toothy mouth. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1c) based upon a drawing by Timothy McLandsborough, an amateur archaeologist. This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 15, Figure 5.18) and identified as the Underwater Spirit; the photograph was credited to Sally J. Kula. This pictograph is described as the large serpent with antlers and toothy mouth by Simek and Cressler (2015:Figure 2.7). This pictograph is identified as very large antlered serpent with toothy mouth by Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.23). Brown and Mullen (2015:Figure 8.5) describe this pictograph as the Picture Cave Piasa. Reilly (2015:Figure 10.2, 10.4) identifies this pictograph as Beneath World Spirit I. Townsend (2015:Figure 11.2) identifies this pictograph as the had of the "Guardian Antlered Piasa" on the lower-level entrance.

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XRF 31 and 35 = White Long Nose Mask, Silicon = 93.143% +/- 6.312, Aluminum = 5.46%3 +/- 1.138, and Iron = 1.246% +/- 0.295. PPM analysis: Antimony = 92.59 +/- 10.48, Tin = 50.2 +/- 9.42, Cadmium = 35.2 +/- 7.16, Palladium = 6.27+/- 3.7, Silver = 125.64 +/- 11.18, Zirconium = 69.27 +/- 6.52, Iron = 989.23 +/- 47.19, Barium = 509.32 +/- 38.14, and Strontinum = 17.59 +/- 2.31.


XRF 33 and 37 = White Feather Plume between Body and Decapitated HeadSilicon = 95.989% +/- 6.734, Aluminm = 3.578% +/- 1.192, and Iron = 0.361% +/- 0.152. PPM analysis = Antimony = 76.84 +/- 10.09, Tin = 77.19 +/- 9.36, Cadmium = 25.34 +/- 6.88, Silver = 103.58 +/- 10.77, Zirconium = 58.71 +/- 6.24, Zinc = 9.5 +/- 4.75, Iron = 451.46 +/- 34.34, Barium = 548.59 +/- 37.4, Strontium = 11.54 +/- 2.1, and Rubidium = 2.93 +/- 1.43.


XRF 32 = Clean Wall between Decapitated Head and Black Figure, Silicon = 95.533% +/- 3.501, Aluminum = 3.737%. +/- 0.733, and Iron = 0.704 +/- 0.202 [Photograph by Eric Fuller, Scale = 10 cm]

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Mark Leach identified a small pictograph as a rabbit - a uncommon subject in Missouri Rock. Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph x. Ho-Chunk folk legends speak of Little Hare, grandchild of Mother Earth who by defeats monsters by his wits (http://www.native-languages.org/morelegends/little-hare.htm).

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyphs 93 to 95. Normal and dStretched image (filter IDS). Photograph by Mark Leach. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.6a). This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 12) and identified as the "Group of three."  Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.41) describe these pictographs as anthropomorphs appearing to be engaged in social or ceremonial interactions.

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyphs 18 and 19. Cressler and Simak (2015:288) describe these as two figures with arms raised at the elbow.  [Photograph by Mark Leach] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.6b) based upon a photograph by James Keefe.

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 92. [Image by Mark leach] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.6a). This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 12) though the focus of the figure was the "Group of Three." Simek and Cressler (2015:Figure 2.15B) identify this as a dancing animal/human figure. Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.4) describe this as an anthropomorph pictograph.

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Cave 2, Panel 4, Glyph 536 and 537. Cressler and Simak (2015;298) identify the black quadruped with antlers facing left and 9 vertical straight-line segments behind it. [Photograph by Alan Westfall] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.4a). Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.35) described that overlaying black pictograph as a quadruped.

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Photograph by Alan Cressler and posted on Flickr. Panel 4 (glyph 192). Used with his permission.

Professors Michael Fuller and Neathery Fuller are all smiles outside of Picture Cave after successfully collecting over 70 XRF readings. [Photograph by Neathery Fuller]

Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 168. Cressler and Simek (2015: 285) describe this as 9 parallel red vertical lines; an abstract pattern. Dstretch shows some wiggling lines interlacing between the vertical lines, like in a hunting blind.[Photograph by Mark Leach] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.6a).Townsend (2015:11.13, 11.14) identifies the scene is black pigment as a warrior with bow approaching a fetish-like pole.

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyphs 37 (quadruped) facing Glyphs 38, 39 and 40 (3 anthropomorphs). [Photograph by Mark Leach]

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 82. Identified by Simek and Cressler 2015:276 as an abstract design but noted that it may be an avimorph (bird). Diaz-Granados (2015:198, Figure 15.18) identifies this glyph as a two-headed bird.

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Michael Fuller

Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 003, XRF 17 and 19 for White Right Pair Right Eye, ​ Silicon = 70.087% +/- 2.697, Aluminum = 26.583% +/- 0.715, and Iron = 3.278 +/- 0.44. PPM analysis: Antimony = 85.79 +/- 11.55, Tin = 56.29 +/- 10.56, Cadmium = 34.6 +/- 7.94, Silver = 165.88 +/- 12.7, Zirconium = 69.01 +/- 7.23, Zinc = 9.62 +/- 5.84. Iron = 3900.1 +/- 96.43, Barium = 691.17 +/- 43.27, Strontium = 18.63 +/- 2.58, Rubidium = 4.28 +/- 1.69.

Cave 1, Panel 3, Glyph 185. Described as a thick-bodied quadruped, possibly a bison. [Photograph by Mark Leach and dStretched by Michael Fuller]

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Picture Cave 2, Panel 6, Glyph 562 Red Drying Racks overpainted with a Black figure. XRF readings 63 and 65: Silicon = 93.638% +/- 1.363, Aluminum = 3.659% +/- 0.314, Iron = 2.68% +/- 0.265; PPM analysis: Antimony = 44.41 +/- 7.72, Tin = 36.68 +/- 7.06, Cadmium = 19.18 +/- 5.33, Silver = 71.43 +/- 25.51, Zirconium = 19.54 +/- 4.54, Nickel = 22.17 +/- 14.59, Iron = 3247.47 +/- 61.47, Chromium = 98.94 +/- 52.83, Barium = 464.29 +/- 29.05, Strontium = 7.05 +/- 1.55, and Mercury = 4.83 +/- 2.5.


Unpainted bedrock XRF readings 64 and 66: Silicon = 96.933% +/- 3.127, Aluminum = 2.196% +/- 0.405, Iron = 0.785 +/- 0.213; PPM analysis: Antimony = 120.58 +/- 11.04, Tin = 83.19 +/- 10.03, Cadmium = 40.7r5 +/- 7.47, Silver = 143.93 +/- 11.71, Zirconium = 63.83 +/- 6.65, Selenium = 4.83 +/- 2.42, Zinc = 8.45 +/- 5.14, Iron = 760. 34 +/- 43.78, Chromium = 193.33 +/- 77.92, Barium = 726.14 +/- 40.5, Strontium = 8.58 +/- 2.14. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.5a). This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 15, Figure 5.19) and identified as drying racks. Simek et al. (2015:Figure 6.39) describe this as red abstract pictographs: "filled boxes."


The black bird on the right side has extra-ordinarily long legs and neck. Alan Westfall recognized this as a Pe'ton-hiu-stae-dse (Osage, sandhill crane) which was symbolic of the Pe'ton ton-ga Zho-i-ga-the (Osage, clan of the Crane People) that belonged to the Tsi'-zhu (Osage, Sky) moiety (LaFlesche 1928). The Ojibwe nation hold the crane as both a clan symbol and name of a summer constellation; they river it for its great size and ability to fly very high (Lee et al. 2014:16).

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Cave 2, Panel 4, Glyph 529, XRF 70 and 72 on Red Chevron/zigzag motif: Silicon = 91.494% +/- 1.229, Aluminum = 2.859 +/-0.267, Iron = 4.467 +/- 0.3. PPM analysis: Antimony = 118.36 +/- 12.16, Tin = 88.76 +/- 11.15, Cadmium = 53.32+/-8.4, Silver = 179.53 +/- 13.15, Zirconium = 65.22 +/- 7.34, Iron = 3233.9 +/- 90.49, Barium = 704.79 +/- 44.48, Rhobidium = 3.7 +/- 1.7, Mercury = 10.31 +/- 4.61 [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.3, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements: Carbon, Oxygen, Silicon;  Minor elements: Aluminum, and Iron. % or PPM were not reported.]


XRF 71 and 73 on nearby clean wall above chevron: silicon = 96.514% +/- 1.216, Aluminum = 2.493% +/- 0.232, and Iron 0.91% +/- 0.147; PPM analysis: Antimony = 43.02 +/- 8.28, Tin = 36.76 +/- 7.61, Cadmium = 17.21 +/- 5.71, Silver = 88.8 +/- 31.71, Zirconium = 35.16 +/- 5.03, Iron = 919.75 +/- 37.73, Manganese = 52.75 +/- 24.9, Barium = 407.43 +/- 30.96, and Strontium = 8.71 +/- 1.7  [Analysis by SEM-EDS in the laboratory by Blankenship (2015:Figure 4.6, Table 4.1) indicates Major elements:  Oxygen and Silicon; % or PPM were not reported.]  [Photographs by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.4c). This pictograph was published by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 5.53a).

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 139. [Photograph by Mark Leach] Duncan and Diaz-Granados (2018: Figure 2.16h) identify this pictograph as Hawk or Morning Star (Venus). Simik and Cressler (2015:Figure 2.11) identify the image as a anthropomorphic warrior with wings after vanquishing an enemy. Diaz-Granados (2015: Figure 15.12) identifies this figure as the Victorious Birdman. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.2c) based upon a drawing made by Timothy McLandsborough in 1986. Diaz-Granados (2004:Figure 7) described this pictograph as a "victorious Birdman holding a mace and standing over a supine figure." Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2004:Figure 9.2A) identify this pictograph as Birdman. This pictograph is described by Simke and Cressler (2015:Figure 2.11) as an anthropomorphic warrior with wing, hold maces aloft after vanquishing an enemy. Townsend (2015:Figure 11.11) describes this pictograph as a "Triumphant Chieftain standing on the prone body of (a) defeated enemy."

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 112 [Photograph by Alan Westfall] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.5b).

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Bibliography


Alt, Susan M.

2017 The Emerald Site, Mississippian Women, and the Moon. in Archaeology of the Night: Life after Dark in the Ancient World. Edited by Nancy Gonlin and April Nowell. University of Colorado.


Aveni, Anthony

2019 Star Stories: Constellations and People. Yale University Press, New Haven.


Blankenship, Sarah A.

2015 Geochemical analyses of Prehistoric Pigment Materials from Picture Cave. in Picture Cave. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan, and F. Kent Reilly II. University of Texas Press, Austin.


Brown, James A. and Jon Muller

2015 Tradition and Horizons in Southeastern Representation in Picture Cave. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan, and F. Kent Reilly II. University of Texas Press, Austin.


Catlin, George

1841  Letters and Notes of the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians. [Reprinted in 1965 by Ross & Haines, Minneapolis]


Conant, Alban Jasper

1879 Foot-prints of Vanished Races in the Mississippi Valley. C. R. Barns, St. Louis.


Cressler, Alan and Jan F. Simek
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David Robert

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2004 Marking Stone, Land, Body and Spirit: Rock Art and Mississippian Iconography. in Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South. Edited by Richard F. Townsend and Robert V. Sharp. Yale University Press, New Haven. 

2015 Color Symbolism and Preliminary Assessment of Styles in Picture Cave. in Picture Cave. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan and F. Kent Reilly II. University of Texas Press, Austin.

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Diaz-Granάdos, Carol, Marvin W. Rowe, Marian Hyman, James R. Duncan and John R. Southon

2001 AMS Radiocarbon Dates for Charcoal from Three Missouri Pictographs and Their Associated Iconography. American Antiquity 66 (3):481-492.


Diaz-Granados, Carol, Marvin W. Rowe, James R. Duncan, and John R. Southon

2015. AMS Radiocarbon dates for Charcoal from Three Pictographs and their Associated Iconography. in Picture Cave.  Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan, and F. Kent Reilly II. University of Texas Press, Austin.


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2015 Identifying the Characters on the Walls of Picture Cave. in Picture Cave. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan, and F. Kent Reilly II. University of Texas Press, Austin. 

Duncan, James R. and Carol Diaz-Granados

2004 Empowering the SECC: The "Old Woman" and Oral Tradition in The Rock-Art of Eastern North America: Capturing Images and Insight. Edited by Caro Diaz-Granados and James R. Duncan. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. 

2018 The Big Five petroglyph sites: their place on the landscape and relation to the creators. in Transforming the Landscape: Rock Art and the Mississippian Cosmos. Oxbow Books, Havertown PA.


Duncan, James R., Marvin W. Rose, Carol Diaz-Granados, Karen L. Steelman and Tom Guilderson

2015 The Black Warrior Pictograph in Picture Cave. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan, and F. Kent Reilly II. University of Texas Press, Austin.


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2007 Ritual, Medicine, and War Trophy Iconographic Theme in the Mississippian Southeast. in Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms: Interpretations of Mississippian Iconography. Edited by F. Kent Reilly III and James F. Garber. University of Texas Press, Austin.

2015 Mortal Combat, Sacred Narratives, and Symbolic Weaponry in Picture Cave. University of Texas, Austin.

2017 Animal pelt caps and Mississippian ritual sodalities. North American Archaeologist 38(1):63-97.


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2009 Historical Individuals in Fremont Rock Art.  Utah Rock Art 28:15- 23.


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2015 The Cave and the Beneath World Spirit in Picture Cave. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan, and F. Kent Reilly II. University of Texas Press, Austin.


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2018. Materiality and Cultural Landscapes in Native America. in Transforming the Landscape: Rock Art and Mississippian Cosmos. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, Jan Simek, George Sabo III, and Mark Wagner. Oxbow Books, Havertown (PA).


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2015 Documenting Spatial Order in the Pictograph Panels of Picture Cave in Picture Cave. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan and F. Kent Reilly III. University of Texas Press, Austin.


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Michael Fuller using the handheld Niton XRF to analyze the pigments in Cave 1.

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The XRF does not give an answer to the question of what substance was used as a binder for the pigment to the walls of Picture Cave. LaFlesche (1932:61, 214, 273) reported that the Osage created a glue/adhesive out of the turtle shells. A variety of substances, like turtle shells, could be boiled to make an organic glue. Ewer (1958:75, 122) reports that the Blackfoot nation believed the very best glue was made from the phallus of a bison that would be cut into small pieces and boiled. Alternative adhesivse used by the Blackfoot was created from the tree sap of the Rock Mountain maple (Acer labrum) or by a hide glue created by boiling the tail of a beaver (Hellson 1974:107; Ewer 1945:17). . Dusenberry (1960:56) reported that the Assinibone made glue from the hooves, lips and thick hide from the forehead of a buffalo bull; these parts were boiled with water to make a strong glue. White tailed deer, abundant in Missouri, were suitable to making glue. Navajo artisans boiled the horns of deer and edges of green hides to make glue (Hill 1939:145). Another possibility would be to use fish glue such as created by the Paiute (Kelly 1934:143) and Tlingit (Laguna 1972:416). 

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Cave 1, Panel 4, Glyph not numbered (?). A bison? [Photograph by Michael Fuller]

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Cave 1, Panel 4, Glyph 200. [Image by Michael Fuller]. First illustrated by Simek and Cressler (2015: Figure 2.5). 

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 25 (left figure on hands and knees) and Glyph 28 upright figure). [Photograph by Mark Leach] The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.6) based upon a photograph by James Keefe.

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Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 129. Identified by Simek and Cressler (2015:276) and Simek et al (2015:Figure 6.7) as an abstract design. Simek and Cressler (2015:276) noted that it is similar to other glyphs such a 82 with avian (bird) qualities.

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​The black pattern decorating the face and body of the "wrapped warrior" reminds me of the temporary tattoos used by the Embara Nation in Panama. The black pigment is manufactured from a plant called Jagua and is applied to the skin by a piece of split and sharpened cane. The pigment reaches its peak darkness about 3 days after application and remain vivid for a month. The plant that yields the pigment/stain does not grow naturally in Missouri but is found in Florida and throughout Central America.The trade in pigments (mineral and botanical) must have been part of the Mississippian economy.

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Cave 1, Panel 2, Glyph 31. Photograph by Mark Leach

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Running figure interpreted as a man clutching his erect phallus in his right hand. Cave 1, Panel 1, Glyph 105. [Photograph by Mark Leach]. The first illustration of this pictograph was made by Diaz-Granados (1993:Figure 27.1b) based upon a slide taken by Joseph Walsh, a caver. Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2004:151-2, Figure 9.7A) illustrate this pictograph and infer a connection between it and the Mandan character called Okeeheedee, or the Crazy One - a rapacious cannibal, a powerful regenerative spirit that was "full of procreative energy."

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Jerry Vineyard, a cave specialist with the Missouri Geological Survey and Water Resources, was aware of Picture Cave by 1964 after it had been reported to the Missouri Speleological Survey (MSS). Vineyard noted that the cave was probably known during the 19th century as "Bottomless Cave" based upon a folklore tradition that a pit feature in the back of the cave never yielded a sound when rocks were dropped down the shaft. Vineyard's notes do include a reference to prehistoric pictographs. A bottomless pit feature was not confirmed when members of the MSS mapped the cave in 1968, but a deep pit feature (bottomless) is shown on a sketch map of the cave prepared by Jim Duncan (2015:Figure 17.1B).  Bat guano on the bottom of a "soundless" pit might explain it being "Bottomless" and Picture Cave does have a very large bat population.  Another historical tradition reported by Vineyard is that John Wyatt, a 19th pioneer, found the cave when he tracked a wounded bear.


James F. Keefe, a conservationist/naturalist with the Missouri Conservation Commission, reported the site of Picture Cave to the Archaeological Survey of Missouri between 1983 and 1986. The walls of Picture Cave are decorated with 294 prehistoric glyphs (Cressler and Simmer (2015:273) which makes it the single largest number of prehistoric images in Missouri. Historic names and dates indicate that the cave was repeatedly visited by local tourists during the 19th and 20th centuries. The State Archaeologist from the Department of Natural Resources visited the cave following up on a sheriff's report of an unmarked grave in 1988. Two archaeologists with expertise in cave archaeology (Prof. Patty Jo Watson and George Crothers from Washington University in St. Louis) visited the cave in 1991. 


Picture Cave is the most intensely studied rock art site in Missouri; an entire monograph on the site was published by Carol Diaz-Granados, Jim Duncan and F. Kent Reilly III in 2015.  The site is also dealt with in considerable detail in Carol Diaz-Granados’ dissertation (Diaz-Granados 1993) and in The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri (Duncan and Diaz-Granados 2000). Blankenship (2015:37 - 45) relied on SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron Microscope - Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) on six pigment samples removed from the cave walls with a sterile scalpel. The samples proved too small for standard powder XRD (X-ray diffraction) analysis.


Picture Cave is on private property, gated and not open to the public. The cave is truly wild; it is a challenging environment.


A new team returned to the cave on 14 October 2020 with permission and assistance of the landowner, his son and his grandson. The team had three research objectives: 1) determine the composition of the paint using a portable XRF [X-ray fluorescence]  instrument, 2) use dStretch photography to look for unique details in the paintings, 3) determine the effectiveness of 3-D imagery to see if there is relief features related to the prominent pictographs, and 4) record short video segments of the major panels.