Michael Fuller

Willenberg Pictograph Site (23FR96)

Thomas Mercer smiles after a strenuous day of hiking, photographing, and discussing about rock art. Michael Fuller takes the last XRF readings at Willenberg and Mark Leach records the data. In the background, Alan Westfall discusses the site with Dr. David Knes. Photograph by Eric Fuller. 

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Black pigment pictograph on the ceiling of the Willenberg site that was previously recorded by Elgin in the 1950s. We saw this in 2014; this pictograph resembles a thunderbird with outstretched wings in painted on the wall of Picture Cave; the crooked lines are probably lightning. Elgin sketched this pictograph in the 1950s. Scale is 20 cm. Photograph by Alan Westfall. 

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Head of Horned Snake; scale is 20 cm. Reading 130 -- Niobium = 0.850% +/- 0.25, Zirconium = 0.216% +/- 0.084, Iron = 2.171% +/- 0.573, and Silicon = 96.288% +/- 5.834.
Reading 127 - - Antimony = 25.45 ppm +/- 12.67, Tin = 23.37 ppm +/- 10.01, Zirconium = 35.21 ppm +/- 8.02, Iron = 271.73 ppm +/- 38.23, Barium = 289.62 ppm +/- 46.34, Strontium = 14.3 ppm +/- 2.81, and Rubidium = 4.12 ppm +/- 1.84


Unpainted rock between Horned Snake and Bison, Reading 131 --

Reading 129 -- Antimony 23.54 ppm +/- 11.51, Tin = 19.03 ppm +/- 9.05, Zirconium = 23.2 +/- 7.13, Iron = 139.52 ppm +/- 29.11, Barium = 344.08 ppm +/- 42.53, Strontium = 10.44 ppm +/- 2.44, and Rubidium = 3.22 +/- 1.62.


[My working hypothesis is that the snake was painted in charcoal, BUT that there was a small portion of red pigment (Iron) mixed with the charcoal. In fact, the horns/wings appear more red than the body of the snake. The pictograph might have been first painted in red, then overpainted in black pigment.] Photograph by Eric Fuller.

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Center of maroon colored crescent moon next to the Staff Pictograph, Reading 101 -- Niobium = 0.081% +/- 0.038, Iron = 1.655% +/- 0.177, Aluminum = 6.372 +/- 0.316, and Silica = 91.87% +/- 1.426.
Reading 91 -- Antimony = 58.42 ppm +/- 12.55, Tin = 34.11 ppm +/- 9.77, Cadmium = 32.94 ppm +/- 9.47, Silver = 15.67 ppm +/- 6.5, Zirconium = 26.55 ppm +/- 7.6, Iron = 1758.04 ppm +/- 75.56, Chromium = 142.35 ppm +/- 86.27, Barium = 489.69 ppm +/- 45.92, and Strontium = 15.77 ppm +/- 2.75.


Edge of maroon colored crescent moon next to the Staff Pictograph, Reading 102 --

Reading 92 -- Antimony = 55.78 ppm +/- 12.05, Tin = 24.87 ppm +/- 9.31, Cadmium = 19.75 +/- 8.96, Silver = 10.58 ppm +/- 6.17, Zirconium = 24.32 ppm +/- 7.29, Iron = 1138.58 ppm +/- 60.16, Barium = 444.81 ppm +/- 43.97, and Strontium = 14.67 ppm +/- 2.62.


Darkest part of the maroon colored crescent moon, Reading 104 -- Molybdenum = 0.112% +/- 0.05, Niobium = 0.166% +/- 0.05, Zirconium = 0.037% +/- 0.018, Iron = 16.02% +/- 0.895, Aluminum = 2.974% +/- 0.334, and Silica = 80.648 +/- 1.603.

Reading 94 -- Antimony = 32.77 ppm +/- 13.85, Tin = 18.28 ppm +/- 10.82, Zirconium = 35.9 ppm +/- 8.74, Iron = 8030.9 ppm +/- 175.32, Barium = 378.84 ppm +/- 51.1, and Strontium = 12.32 ppm +/- 3.


What does this mean? The darkest part of the maroon colored crescent moon has a significantly higher % and ppm of Iron compared to the other pictographs at the Willenberg site. The maroon moon at the Willenberg site has thee times the ppm of Iron compared to a maroon "lightning" pictograph at Picture Cave.  The maroon crescent moon was not painted with the same pigment as the staff and scalp. Crescent photograph by Alan Westfall. 

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Two pictographs are situated to the left of the Bear and Owl Pictographs. A prominent red box with two notches and a very faint blue human profile (possibly historic graffiti). Photograph by Eric Fuller.


Red box,  Reading 110 -- Iron = 0.897% +/- 0.199, Aluminum = 3.601 +/- 0.421, and Silica = 95.46% +/- 2.259.

Reading 126 -- Antimony = 61.92 ppm +/- 12.92, Tin = 34.9 ppm +/- 10.05, Cadmium = 23.49 ppm +/- 9.61, Silver = 15.2 ppm +/- 6.67, Zirconium = 35.97 ppm +/- 7.94, Iron = 615.24 ppm +/- 50.02, Barium = 475.51 ppm +/- 47.11, Strontium = 11.84 ppm +/- 2.71, and Rubidium = 2.72 ppm +/- 1.75. 


Blue outlined portrait,  Reading 111 -- Iron = 0.195% +/- 0.075, Aluminum = 4.172% +/- 0.27, and Silica = 95.571% +/- 1.197. [same as unpainted bedrock]

Reading 125 -- Antimony = 68.16 ppm +/- 13.33, Tin = 34.75 ppm +/- 10.32, Cad mium = 22.51 ppm +/- 9.86, Silver = 16.33 ppm +/- 6.87, Zirconium = 43.12 ppm +/- 8.26, Iron = 166.08 ppm +/- 34.51, Barium = 528.93 ppm +/- 48.75, Strontium = 13.34 ppm +/- 2.83, and Rubidium = 3.62 +/- 1.85. [same as unpainted bedrock]

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Several pictograph panels were painted at the Willenberg site; stylistically they belong to the Mississippian tradition. The first panel that you see approaching the site has striking images of an owl with outstretched wings with a bear beneath it; the bear holds a mace. It wassketched and photographed byElgin in the 1950s. It was first published by Diaz-Granados (1993) and Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:30, 171, Figure 5.51b).

Owl face XRF reading 106 -- Iron = 3.32% +/- 0.434, Aluminum = 3.65% +/- 0.504, and Silica 92.998% +/- 3.188.

Reading 120 -- Antimony = 101.27 ppm +/- 15.34, Tin = 57.41 ppm +/- 11.89, Cadmium = 34.11 ppm +/- 11.26, Silver = 23.53 ppm +/- 7.87, Zirconium = 46.21 ppm +/- 9.32, Iron = 1809 ppm +/- 90.71, Barium = 584.05 ppm +/- 55.1, Strontium = 12 ppm +/- 3.13, and Rubidium = 3.61 +/- 2.08.


Owl body XRF reading 107 -- Niobium = 0.093% +/- 0.036, Iron = 4.81% +/- 0.356, Aluminum = 2.576% +/- 0.327, and Silica = 92.489% +/- 1.781.

Reading 121 -- Antimony = 71.07 ppm +/- 13.47, Tin = 43.67 ppm +/- 10.53, Cadmium = 18.54 ppm +/- 9.89, Silver = 20.1 ppm +/- 7.01, Zirconium = 31.12 ppm +/- 8.15, Lead = 87.84 ppm +/- 9.8, Iron = 3965.02 ppm +/- 117.52, Barium = 479.59 ppm +/- 48.85, Strontium = 7.39 ppm +/- 7.39, Rubidium = 2.77 +/- 1.83. [The presence of lead is fascinating! This is one of the first Missouri pictographs that I have recorded with traces of lead in the pigment! It is not in the bedrock.]


Bear holding a mace and reaching up (catching or releasing?) towards the owl. Reading 108 - - Zirconium = 0.053% +/- 0.018, Iron = 3.165% +/- 0.268, Aluminum = 2.775% +/- 0.324, and Silica = 93.958% +/- 1.498.

Reading 122 - Antimony = 51.21 ppm +/- 12.39, Tin = 29.56 ppm +/- 9.67, Cadmium = 14.56 +/- 9.19, Silver = 12.59 +/- 6.41, Zirconium = 41.49 ppm +/- 7.77, Iron = 2838.57 +/- 93.91 ppm +/- 93.91, Barium = 416.09 +/- 45.24, Strontium = 17.79 ppm +/- 2.81, and Rubidium = 6.51 +/- 1.88.


Archer with a nocked arrow takes aim at the lower figure interpreted as a bear holding a mace in its right paw. Reading 109 - - Zirconium = 0.039% +/- 0.015, Iron = 1.302% +/- 0.173, Aluminum = 2.946% +/- 0.297, and Silica = 95.662 +/- 1.491.

Reading 123 - - Antimony = 63.96 ppm +/- 13.02, Tin = 44.68 ppm +/- 10.23, Cadmium = 24.69 ppm +/- 9.69, Silver = 16.73 ppm +/- Zirconium = 45.38 ppm +/- 8.13, Iron = 1650.26 ppm +/- 75.94, Barium = 502.48 ppm +/- 47.58, Strontium = 18.16 ppm +/- 2.92, and Rubidium = 5.06 ppm +/- 1.87.


Unpainted Background to the right of the owl and archer.  Reading 112 -- Aluminum = 5.449% +/- 0.344, and Silica = 94.415% +/- 1.687.

Reading 124 -- Antimony = 73.74 ppm +/- 13.14, Tin = 30.1 ppm+/-10.09, Cadmium = 19.75 ppm +/- 9.64, Silver = 18.34 ppm +/- 6.79, Zirconium = 35.68 ppm +/- 8, Iron = 162.06 ppm +/- 33.58, Barium = 478.14 +/- 47.54, Strontium = 11.63 +/- 2.73, and Rubidium = 4.35 +/- 1.85.

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Careful examination of the back wall of the Willenberg site identified a previously unreported pictograph painted in black pigment of a meandering snake. This is very similar to the snake pictographs at the Rattlesnake Site (23FR95). XRF measurements were not made on this pictograph. Scale is 20 cm. Photograph by Eric Fuller.

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Bibliography

Diaz-Granados, Carol
1993 The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri: A Distributional, Stylistic, Contextual, Functional and Temporal Analysis of the State's Rock Graphics. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Washington University , St. Louis, Missouri.

Diaz-Granados, Carol and James R. Duncan
2000 The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

The large red pictograph on the ceiling of Willenberg shelter was only recognized because the team had so much time to study the site while the xrf readings were being taken. Scale = 20 cm. Photograph by Eric Fuller. Center of the bison Reading 131 -- Niobium = 1.098% +/- 0.326, Zirconium = 0.208 +/- 0.103, Iron = 6.425% +/- 1.133, and Silicon = 88.568% +/- 5.452.

Reading 128 -- Antimony = 20.62 ppm +/- 13.2, Tin = 18.35 ppm +/- 10.4, Zirconium = 15.25 ppm +/- 8.09, Iron = 718.23 ppm +/- 56.13, Barium = 340.31 ppm +/- 48.94, and Strontium = 12.44 ppm +/- 2.88.

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Another faint snake,  painted in black pigment, is situated above the meandering snake on the wall of the Willenberg site. This pictograph was recognized for the first time in 2021. Scale is 20 cm. Photograph by Eric Fuller.

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Two pictographs painted on the vertical back wall (a complex design and a comma-like design) and one pictograph (a maroon colored crescent moon) on the ceiling generated considerable interest because they have been proposed as representing the supernova of AD 1054 by Carol Diaz-Granados (1993:515-516) in her dissertation and also in The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri (Diaz-Granados and Duncan 2000: Figure 5.55, Figure 6.4e, Plate 30). This is an exciting explanation. My first visit to the site in 2012 caused me to posit another explanation - that the complex pictograph is a staff decorated with feathers and the comma-like pictograph may represent a scalp. Furthermore, the different shades of red between the crescent and staff suggest that they were not made with identical pigment mixtures. So, the expedition in 2021 had the specific goal of checking the chemistry of these four pictographs with a handheld Niton xrf instrument. Elgin sketched and photographed the staffand complex design in the 1950s. Photograph by Eric Fuller.


Center of nested circles and cross staff, Reading 96 -- Iron = 2.161% +/- 0.233, Aluminum = 8.266% +/- 0.367, and Silica 89.474% +/- 1.609.

Reading 86 -- ppm readings not available due to instrument/operator error of only 0.14 seconds instead of 20 seconds. Hey, it was the end of a very long and hard day of fieldwork! Sorry...


Red staff close to nested circles, Reading 97-- Iron = 1.339% +/- 0.157, Aluminum = 5.463% +/- 0.4, Silica = 93.113% +/- 1.547. 

Reading 87 --  Antimony = 50.1 ppm +/- 14.23, Tin = 45.89 ppm +/- 11.3 ppm, Cadmium = 17.18 ppm +/- 10.6 ppm,  , Zirconium = 48.42 ppm +/- 9.03,  Iron = 935.26 ppm +/- 65.81, Barium = 486.71 ppm +/- 52.51,  and Strontium = 15.15 ppm +/- 3.13.


Red Staff near end of staff, Reading 98 -- Zirconium = 0.035% +/- 0.015, Iron = 3.64% +/- 0.334, Aluminum = 3.745% +/- 0.353, and Silica = 92.522 +/- 2.13.

Reading 88 -- Antimony = 56.74 ppm +/- 14.95, Tin = 55.35 ppm +/- 11.94, Cadmium = 28.48 +/- 11.24, Silver = 20.8 +/- 7.87, Zirconium = 43.85 +/- 9.37, Iron = 2259.79 ppm +/- 101.14, Barium = 523.9 ppm +/- 55.13, Strontium = 20.41 ppm +/- 3.45, and Rubidium = 5.46 ppm +/- 2.19.


Red comma-like (scalp?) pictograph to the right of the staff, Reading 103 -- Iron = 0.743% +/- 0.21, Aluminum = 14.816% +/- 1.07, Silica = 84.298% +/- 6.125.

Reading 93 -- Antimony = 77.42 ppm +/- 14.15, Tin = 47.72 ppm +/- 11.06, Cadmium = 31.32 ppm +/- 10.52, Silver = 29.52 ppm +/- 7.5, Zirconium = 38.43 ppm +/- 8.7, Iron = 407.43 ppm +/- 46.76, Barium = 575.17 ppm +/- 51.66, Strontium = 34.54 ppm +/- 3.64, and Rubidium = 6.76 ppm +/- 2.12


Unpainted Background under the staff Reading 105 -- Niobium = 0.102% +/- 0.04, Zirconium = 0.035 +/- 0.015, Iron = 0.368% +/- 0.112, Aluminum = 2.503% +/- 0.486, and Silica = 96.99% +/- 2.95.

Reading 95 -- Antimony = 51.47 ppm +/- 13.36, Tin = 31.29 ppm +/- 10.43, Cadmium = 23.14 ppm +/- 10.01, Silver = 10.37 ppm +/- 6.86, Zirconium = 29.33 ppm +/- 8.21, Iron = 184.71 ppm +/- 35.41, Barium = 395.64 ppm +/- 48.56, Strontium = 22.88 +/- 318, and Rubidium = 6.41 ppm +/- 2.01.


Note: The "lighter" comma-like pictograph have a thinner concentration of Iron, but still triple the ppm compared to the background Iron reading in the bedrock. The staff and complex design pictograph had a greater amount of Iron probably caused by repeated painting to produce the more pronounced color. The ppm of Iron in the Owl and Bear pictographs are higher than in the complex staff pictograph suggesting not the same pigment batch or possibly not the same painter;

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Eric Fuller comtemplates the rock art at the Willenberg site. 

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What is the value of repeated visits to the same rock art site? Different light conditions and different viewing perspectives can reveal more images. Two hardworking archaeologists lay on their backs in the wet mud (with spotted salamanders crawling around) and recognize several previously unreported pictographs! The largest image is of a bison painted in red pigment. The most significant image is the faint pictograph with a horned serpent with an open, threatening mouth. Eric Fuller and Thomas Mercer photograph and discuss the bison and horned serpent pictographs that they identified. Photograph by Alan Westfall.

Suspended down from the staff are black feathers. These were analyzed with XRF. Reading 99 -- Zirconium = 0.035% +/- 0.015, Iron = 3.64% +/- 0.334, Aluminum = 3.745% +/- 0.353, and Silica = 92.533% +/- 2.13.

Reading 89 -- Antimony = 62.07 ppm +/- 13.08, Tin = 33.94 ppm +/- 10.17, Cadmium = 26.31 +/- 9.77, Silver = 17.17 ppm +/- 6.79, Zirconium = 38.46 ppm +/- 8.11, Iron = 324.04 ppm +/- 40.58, Barium = 483 ppm +/- 47.73, Strontium = 24.39 ppm +/- 3.13, and Rubidium = 5.2 ppm +/- 1.89. 

[There is not a clear presence of a mineral pigment though the Iron is slightly elevated above the background bedrock. That makes it probable that the black pigment is Carbon (the handheld XRF does not detect many elements including Carbon) with a trace (accidental or intentional) of Iron.

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The original notes and photographs from the late 1950s by Robert Elgin include his observation of a faint pictograph approximately a meter left of the Owl and Bear pictographs. Diaz-Granados (1993) and Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:27, Figure 3.1b) note the significance of this pictograph as a Wapiti (Elk). The pictograph was more distinct when we (Michael and Neathery Fuller) first visited the site in 2004; continued lichen grow is slowly obscuring the pictograph. Scale is 20 cm. Photograph by Eric Fuller. 

Head of Elk reading 113 - - Iron = 2.253% +/- 0.333, Aluminum = 2.934% +/- 0.445, and Silicon = 94.648% +/- 2.651.

Reading 119 - - Antimony = 61.04 ppm +/- 15.09, Tin = 48.5 ppm +/- 11.95, Cadmium = 21.14 ppm +/- 11.22, Palladium = 9.09 ppm +/- 5.89, Silver = 21.9 ppm +/- 7.95, Zirconium = 51.12 ppm +/- 9.55, Iron = 821.63 ppm +/- 56.82, Barium = 495.25 ppm +/- 55.24, Strontium = 14.54 ppm +/- 3.27, and Rubidium = 6.61 +/- 2.28.


Back leg of Elk reading 115 - - Niobium = 0.135% +/- 0.065, Iron = 1.103% +/- 0.218, Manganese = 1.857% +/- 0.334, Aluminum = 30.243% +/- 0.637, and Silicon = 66.606% +/- 2.462.

Reading 118 - - Antimony = 36.66 ppm +/- 12.18, Tin = 27.23 ppm +/- 9.57, Cadmium = 16.06 +/- 9.15, Zirconium = 28.27 ppm +/- 7.54, Iron = 1090 ppm +/- 61.85, Manganese = 396.06 +/- 51.24, Barium = 378.62 ppm +/- 44.73, Strontium = 12.65 ppm +/- 2.63, and Rubidium = 5.6 ppm +/- 1.82.


Unpainted bedrock below the Elk, Reading 117 -- Antimony = 56.76 ppm +/- 11.77, Tin = 26.59 ppm +/- 9.1, Cadmium = 17.07 +/- 8.71, Palladium = 7.67 ppm +/- 4.58, Zirconium = 26.12 ppm +/- 4.58,  Zinc = 11.19 ppm +/-5.65, Nickel = 52.92 ppm +/- 23.83, Iron = 692.42 ppm +/- 51.28, Manganese = 1048.09 ppm +/- 69.54,  Barium = 442.27 ppm +/- 42.93, Strontium = 16.45 ppm +/- 2.61, and Rubidium = 4.52 ppm +/- 1.68.

No reading was recorded for element % - Iron% probably close to 0.3%

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Crescent Moon ---------->


Complex

Design ---->                                                                                             <--Scalp?     


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The Willenberg rock art site has been known since the late 1950s when it was photographed by Robert Elgin, a land surveyor and member of the Missouri Archaeological Society. Dale Henning and Nicholas Cahill registered the site with the Archaeological Survey of Missouri during 1960. I submitted a revised site report after relocating the site and getting an accurate GPS reading in 2012. The site is situated on private property and is not open to the public.  I first visited the site with Neathery Fuller on 12 September 2012 and returned on 9 June 2021; here are the results of the second field project. Many thanks to the property manager for facilitating this research. 

An image of a warrior with lance, axe, and feather headdress is situated on the ceiling near the owl and bear pictographs. It looks more "drawn" than "painted." There is a graffiti on the ceiling that was also drawn in 1962 by R. H. which is cause to worry that this sketch might not be prehistoric. It is not mentioned in Elgin's notes from the 1950s. Scale is 10 cm.  Photograph by Alan Westfall. 

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