Analysis of Human Hair Bands from Old Man Cave, Utah

Author(s): Kami Ahrens; Phil Geib

Year: 2017


In the early 1990s, excavations conducted at Old Man Cave in southeastern Utah unearthed various Basketmaker II materials, including an incredibly well-preserved bundle of burden bands made from human hair, dog hair, and yucca cordage. Radiocarbon dating places the manufacture of these textiles between 170 BC and AD 135. The bundle, when unfolded, contained a complex set of artifacts, including two smaller fragments that appear to be carrying bands, and another far more unique woven artifact. Resembling a load-bearing strap, this wide-split woven band consists of two narrow tumpline-like bands joined at each end, displaying considerable upkeep and maintenance. Only one other artifact known to the authors bears a similar form, but the functions of both remain unknown. Regardless, these woven artifacts provide a case study for examining textile production methods and use in the San Juan region of the American Southwest. Analysis of fibers, twist, ply, weave, wear patterns, and pre-depositional repairs can help illuminate the method of skill transmission and cultural interactions that existed in pre-ceramic Southwestern societies. The foundational knowledge for these and other analyses is established by a thorough examination of the artifacts at hand and relevant comparative pieces.

Cite this Record

Analysis of Human Hair Bands from Old Man Cave, Utah. Kami Ahrens, Phil Geib. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428942)

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Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16908