Bannerstones: A Historical Overview

Author(s): Mary L Kwas

Year: 1982


J. Whittaker: Name “bannerstone” assumed ritual or social function. Moorehead 1917 first systematic classification: lunate, bilunate, bipennate, geniculate. Knoblock 1939 major work, base for typology although his evolutionary scheme has no empirical support. Researchers tend to ignore bannerstones or inadequately describe.

Functional theories: 1) Ceremonial staff. NC find of 3 mounted on stone shafts a foot long (Baer 1921), and wear on only part of hole (Knoblock 1939), also fancy material, fragility. Carlson Annis find strung with beads around neck of burial.

2) Net spacers. Moore (1916) at Indian Knoll, association with net needles (hooks).

3) Atlatl weights. Webb, from finds at Indian Knoll and elsewhere, analogous to Basketmaker specimens (Kidder and Guersey 1919). Burial alignments consistent with SW examples – weight about 1/3 to 1/2 distance from hook. Problem with atlatl theory – hooks and bannerstones not always together, and found with female burials. Uses Indian Knoll data to demonstrate this. Also often not found with points.

Discusses experiments, which provide variable and sometimes conflicting results, partly because not systematic enough.

Precourt (1973) and Winters (1968) argue that could be both functional atlatl weights and social or status markers. Research should not assume the atlatl weight function is proven.

[Good literature review and critique up to its time. Many of the objections to atlatl weight interpretation are now less supportable, and most would now agree that symbolic as well as hunting uses are likely.]

Cite this Record

Bannerstones: A Historical Overview. Mary L Kwas. Journal of Alabama Archaeology. 28 (2): 155-178. 1982 ( tDAR id: 423376)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Atlatl Hunting Weapon

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): EXARC Experimental Archaeology Collection Manager

Record Identifiers

ExArc Id(s): 10187


Rights & Attribution: The information in this record was originally compiled by Dr. Roeland Paardekooper, EXARC Director.