Cave sticks? An investigation in to the use and purpose of bifurcated sticks found in cache caves.

Author(s): David Robinson; Dan McArthur

Year: 2015


This study aims to explore the purpose and use of bifurcated sticks found in cache caves of Southern California. Known as ‘witchsticks’ or ‘spirtsticks’, little formal research has been undertaken on these enigmatic cave sticks. As suggested by their naming, interpretations presume a ritual connotation despite little evidence; alternately, a purely practical application has equally been poorly considered. With the discovery of new Cache cave comes the ability to observe well preserved cave sticks found in situ. By analysing these new cave sticks concentrating on the differing metrics and observing the differing physical attributes, questions concerning their use and purpose may be posed. This study compares these metrics and physical attributes to, a) a sample of non-modified sticks from nearby vegetation; and b) accounts of stick usage in the ethnographic record. This investigation highlights the amount that can be learned by conducting in depth studies of individual aspects of material culture.

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Cite this Record

Cave sticks? An investigation in to the use and purpose of bifurcated sticks found in cache caves.. Dan McArthur, David Robinson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395898)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;