National Geographic : 1956 Oct
558 Willard R. Culver, National Geographic Staff Imagination Pictures Snail Shells Strung in a Necklace, the Mussel Used as a Spoon Excavators believe both men and women wore this jewelry. Ring at right neatly fits a man's finger; smaller ring in center served an unknown purpose. Mushroom-shaped plug at top adorned a pierced ear. some which may also have been used by Paleo-Indians. We also uncovered, near the lowest level, a pierced stone which I identified as part of an atlatl, a primitive spear-throwing device. The name comes from the Aztecs, who used it in hunting and warfare. The smooth, round hole in the stone was probably bored with a hollow reed rolled between the palms, using sand on the tip as an abrasive (page 544). But we have yet to find a Folsom point, and the $25 prize is still unclaimed. Mystery Still Lies Underfoot It is by no means certain that we shall find Paleo-Indians and their relics as we dig deeper. A few inches farther down we may strike bedrock, and that will be that. If so, Russell Cave will still rank as a major archeological discovery. Other digs have produced older material than we have yet found, and a few have gone deeper, but no other site in North America has provided such detailed stratification covering so long a time span. In all layers we found not only abundant artifacts and bone relics, but also charcoal. When carbon 14 tests of this charcoal are finished, we will have a unique timetable dat ing our tools, shells, bones, and ornaments almost century by century. This will throw new light on the history of the whole southeastern United States-not only its primitive people but its plant and animal life as well. Judging by the floor level of the unfilled cavern next to it, however, the rock bottom of Russell Cave may lie as much as 26 feet below the present floor. That would leave us 12 feet more to dig. If men occupied the cave at this lowest level, the importance of the site will be in creased tremendously. This is speculation. Only time and more work will tell us what still lies in the ancient soil beneath our feet. Whatever we find, much credit is due to the men who brought the cave to our atten tion: Mr. Paul H. Brown, Mr. LeBaron W. Pahmeyer, Mr. Charles K. Peacock, and Mr. J. B. Graham. These four, all members of the Tennessee Archaeological Society, not only recognized the importance of Russell Cave, but also realized that its contents merited study by a national scientific organization.