Navigation Links
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.

"A fascinating aspect of this find is that these are not ordinary stones but are rocks and crystals commonly associated with gold deposits in the Central Cordillera of Panama and Central America," Redwood said. "However, there are no gold artifacts in the rock-shelter, and there's no evidence that the stones were collected in the course of gold prospecting as the age of the cache pre-dates the earliest known gold artifacts from Panama by more than 2,000 years. But the collector of the stones clearly had an eye for unusual stones and crystals with a special significance whose meaning is lost to us."

Indigenous groups who lived near this site include the Ngbe, Bugl, Bribri, Cabcar and the now-extinct Dorasque peoples. Shamans or healers (curanderos) belonging to these and other present-day First Americans in Central and South America often include special stones among the objects they use for ritual practices. Stones containing crystal structures are linked to transformative experiences in many of their stories.

Anthony Ranere, from Temple University in Philadelphia, first identified and excavated Casita de Piedra in an archaeological survey of western Panama in the early 1970s. He found that the small rock-shelter had been repeatedly occupied over thousands of years and used for a variety of domestic activities such as food processing and cooking, stone-tool manufacture and retouch, and possibly woodworking. Dickau returned to the site to expand excavations from December 2006 to January 2007.

Dickau's group radiocarbon dated charcoal from the base levels of the shelter and discovered it was first occupied more than 9,000 years ago, much earlier than Ranere originally proposed. Her research also showed that the people who would have benefitted from the shaman's knowledge practiced small-scale farming of maize, manioc and arrowroot, and collected palm nuts, tree fruits and wild tubers. They also probably hunted and fished in the nearby hills and streams, but the humid soils in the shelter destroyed any evidence of animal bones. Other Preceramic peoples in Panama who lived in small, dispersed communities across the isthmus by 4,000 years ago commonly practiced these activities.


Contact: Beth King
202-633-4700 x28216
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Related medicine news :

1. Smart stethoscope advance in monitoring treatment of kidney stones
2. GW researcher receives $4.1 million grant to find alternative treatment for kidney stones
3. Kidney Stones May Be Tied to Later Kidney Problems
4. Ear, Nose & Throat Journal publishes research on breakthrough treatment for tonsil stones
5. As Obesity Rates Rise, Cases of Kidney Stones Double: Study
6. Way to make one-way flu vaccine discovered by Georgia State researcher
7. New genetic disorder of balance and cognition discovered
8. A relationship between cancer genes and the reprogramming gene SOX2 discovered
9. New mechanism for cancer progression discovered by UNC and Harvard researchers
10. New mechanism of action for PARP inhibitors discovered
11. New target discovered for food allergy treatment
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
4,000-year-old shaman's stones discovered near Boquete, Panama
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... For the first time, Vitalalert ... Organizations, One Beat ” campaign. The partnership between the two groups began in 2014 ... MAP International’s cause. , MAP International was founded in 1954 and is an international ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... On November 25, 2015, officials of Narconon Arrowhead , the drug rehabilitation ... new cutting edge recovery program that has been 50 years in the making. ... with the purpose to free addicts from the symptoms and negative behaviors of addiction. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... Smiles by Stevens is pleased to announce the addition of Botox® for ... aware of the benefits of Botox® in the treatment of moderate facial wrinkling, few ... and pain as a result of Jaw Tension, TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) disorder, and Bruxism ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... In an ongoing Clinical Study conducted by an ... IL, UV Angel is evaluating the efficacy of its product and its disinfection protocol. ... 30 beds) from May 2014 through October 2015 at a 360-bed, acute-care, academic medical ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Spring, Md (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 ... ... Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) announces the nation’s Periwinkle Pioneers, individuals and groups responsible ... history of this disease. The Periwinkle Pioneers, nominated by the public, will receive ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 Kitov Pharma ceuticals ... a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of therapeutic ... today announced the closing of its previously announced underwritten ... ), each representing 20 ordinary shares of the Company, ... ADSs and warrants were issued in a fixed combination ...
(Date:11/25/2015)...  Today AVACEN Medical announced the issue of United States patent No. ... ". This patent shields the company,s AVACEN 100 dry heat therapy medical device and specific methods ... Photo - ... ... ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 USP 800 ... drug preparations (e.g. pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, physicians, ... technicians). The chapter also covers all entities which ... pharmacies, hospitals, other healthcare institutions, patient treatment clinics, ... --> --> What is ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: