For the 2018 Indiana University Themester “Animal/Human,” the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology's (GBL) exhibit explores interpretation of the complex and varying relationships between animals and humans in the ancient Midwest.
Depictions of animals are known to be among some of the earliest mural and decorative art, for example, the well-known Paleolithic cave art of Europe that depicts now-extinct species. In North America, animal depictions spread widely throughout the Midwest as early as 6,000 years ago with intricately carved stones that evoke highly stylized avian features. Later in time, people created carved stone pipes with animal effigies positioned on platforms, and cut-outs from sheets of mica that show talons. Ceramics depict a bewildering array of animal forms from roseate spoonbills to snakes, and some ceramic pots were made in the shape of fish or carry effigies representing a variety of animal images. Whether rendered into wood, clay, stone, metal, or shell, animals contribute much to the symbolic and iconographic content of Native American representation.
Through both the exhibit and panel session we hope to stimulate discussion and ideas about how approaches in history, archaeology, and cognition inform on animal representation, symbolism, and ethnogenesis.