Anthropology By Fred Meagher

I am a local amateur anthropologist who has been researching the Potrero geoglyphs and their relation to mythic histories over large parts of the Southwest. A geoglyphs is a landscape feature that becomes a part of local mythology; in this case it is Madre Grande, the mountain just across the narrow valley from the proposed Blackwater site. Evidence of the potential significance of this area has occupied me for at least seven years; and I think it may become a World Heritage Site when my findings are checked by more credentialed professionals.

I believe the cultural significance of this site being declared by archeological evidence alone, overlooks the extermination of this particular local tribe by the Spanish friars and soldiers; apparently the only one so completely destroyed in the county with the most reservations of any in the US. I believe the proto-state described by Prof. Lowie in his “Origins of the State’ had its center it what I call the Potero Ceremonial Complex; a cluster of geoglyphs once part of a local pilgrimage route for shamans in training.

The Great Mother Mountain seems to have been forgotten, as well as the giant standing stone that marks the winter solstice before the face of the Great Snake that sits at the foot of Kuuchaama, the high exalted holy place that also looks down into Round Potero along with the Lady. This is a sacred land forgotten by all the surrounding tribes who have lost the stories of those who died here; the keepers of the middle place around the Holy Mountain. It is the evidence of all this that needs confirmation by experts, this Blackwater situation has forced me to begin publishing my unfinished research to prevent desecration of what should be; according to my current findings; a World Heritage Site.

A portion of my research:

Subject: Potrero, Blackwater, Anthropology and Global Unity

*A geoglyph is a geological feature that occupies an important place in local mythology. It may be a face in the rocks, a particularly beautiful place, a cave or any other feature that becomes a part of local mythic imagery.

This area surrounding Potrero and Tecate is in the geographic middle of the Kuumeeay federation of tribes. Across the world various middle places have been the sacred land common to all who surrounded it. Such central places are the beginnings of collective organization, both religious and secular, and the very concept of a nation derives from a capitol filled with the imagery of a peoples achievements and symbols of unity. The images and symbols from the Potero complex were carried by the earliest migrants who moved away from the coasts they had migrated along. In California such evidence of costal migrants is below the range of skin divers, as the sea levels have risen over four hundred feet since they arrived.

The common symbols of eagles, snakes, the world tree, sacred mountains and the Great Mother are a part of pre literate cultures all over the world. That Potrero was once a religious center due to its numerous geoglyphs* and water sources, along with fertile ground and the numerous oak trees that were a staple of the local diet, has not been investigated by anthropologists, as physical remains take precedence over mythic indicators. It is this reluctance to base a science on such immaterial evidence that has made the study of the anthropology of religion so uninviting to serious investigators. Potrero’s importance cannot be dismissed on the basis of mere physical evidence, the mythic records tell a very different story than that provided by stone chips and grinding stones. The Mother Mountain is a part of a sacred middle ground whose imagery spread as far as the Mississippi River, through the Pueblo Indians and down to the Aztec region. This will be supported by research based on k nowledge of Potero’s significance due to its numerous geoglyphic features, or so I believe based on my own investigations.

The sciences of anthropology and archeology are lacking a sense of purpose and direction. As said by Byrd and Sere:

“ Archeological theory as a body of thought is still in its infancy. A current vernacular that focuses the direction of scientific inquiry is absent in archeological theory.” (Byrd, Sere 1993)

Indeed the science itself is as scattered and buried as the artifacts it hopes to illuminate. Anthropology as archeology should ultimately have as its goal the understanding of human kind for the benefit of man and all mans symbiotes; the physical and biotic environment. The stated goals; cultural chronologies, reconstructed life ways and culture processes; do not convey or inspire a sense of purpose.

I have been continually surprised at the absence of motives and perspectives in the archeological analysis of humankind’s emergence from a mythic to a scientific mode of comprehension. Those factors recognized as influencing human development; subsistence, mobility, settlement patterns, trade competition, etc.; all occurred within a pre-rational, mythic, ritual stage of our evolving perspectives as socialized, symbol using primates. The disinclination of those trained in rational scientific methodology to approach the religious natures of our forbearers is inexcusable. To fully understand the eons of mankind clearly, as far back as we can see, mans religious nature must be understood and integrated into archeological theory.

The stereotype of an archeologist with an interest in myth and ceremony is typically of a deeply troubled soul. What I find deeply troubling is that a perspective like this can exist in a scientific discipline concerned with every aspect of the human animal. The current absence of recognized factors linking native narrative and ritual traditions to lithic types and settlement patterns may account for this lack of interest in associating a hard science with what many consider mere fairy tales. In essence my current research goal is to locate factors that might link mythic traditions to lithic remains.

Mythic remains have a morphology and a distribution that can be measured and compared. Structural plot elements and characters can be tied to artifacts and lifestyles; as well as generating inferences linking mass psychology and environmental influences; both natural and man-made. Corridors of distribution and origin points can be charted in the mythic domain between continents and oceans over thousands of years. Can the physical record be made to match the mythical?

When Quetzeqoatl poured blood over the old Mayan bones to make a new people, the Aztecs; he reinvigorated the past to give meaning to the present and direction to the future. This is the purpose of archeology; and the focus of this study of mythics and lithics.


Mythology, technology and psychology are inextricably linked. Men’s tools and tales shape their minds as much as men shape their tools and tales. Stories told by hunters stress action and cunning. Farmer’s stories stress patience and planning. The motives and needed meanings of the hunter are not those of the farmer. All myths reflect the needs of those who manufacture them. They are tools as much as a grinding stone or a throwing spear.

As a father taught his son to hunt, fish or farm he passed along more than the spot to crack a rock or the best bait to catch a fish. The ways of his people; their land, their ancestors; were all transmitted along with the making of tools and training for life. A thrusting spear implies a very different point of view than does a dart in the form of an atlal or the making of an adze. That tools can be traced along the same routes as myths and ritual is an idea with vast potential to add significance and relevance to the public perception of anthropology and archeology. This interdisciplinary approach would add depth and value to each arena of inquiry. Mythology and folklore studies could be approached as a more archeological study than as a branch of literature or psychology. Typologies can be established, provenience determined and relevant folklore artifacts unearthed. The myth making aspects of science itself could also be explored. The process of human thoughts evolving from metaphoric to methodic can be traced through technology and tradition. The potential exponential advancement possible when mythic meets lithic will depend on the identification of factors linking specific technologies to sets of mythic elements. This paper is a beginning of what might become a most illuminating branch of the tree of anthropological knowledge; bringing meaning to a world buried beneath the accretions of civilizations current mythology. The human animal needs to re-discover itself in the reflections of its past. We need to remember ourselves.

Debitage as History:

Examining flakes of stone in search of human activity can bestow an intuition of history as a work in progress. Like an amnesiac struggling to remember the last five minutes; we puzzle over the last five thousand years or centuries or eons, with hopes to discover who and what we are, by finding who we were.

Each chip of stone or tool fragment was once a verb. Each impact point is a monument to careful decision and accurate choice; assuming the evolving tools continued in use and development.

The tiered pattern of usage; core, flake, hammer stone, blade, scraper, knife, awl, needle; were also symbolic metaphors that evolved along with the shaped stone. The process of chipping away fragments to produce tools is the opposite of our current constructive method, assembly. Assembly requires each component to be a pre-fabrication. Each part has a particular function for which it was built from other smaller pre-constructed parts. Shaping stone with percussion starts with a whole that loses parts. Each stage has a function; each stage is a monolithic whole. What is to come next in form is latent in the current usage.

Science and religion can be seen as parallels to these technical methods and metaphors. Science builds its framework on individual bits interconnected to larger functions. Religion assumes a total divided into functioning parts. Between these two modes of thought lies the mystery of human destiny.

Accretion of Attributes:

Accretion of mythic and physical attributes have analogs allowing meaningful comparison. Just as an overnight camp can become a village; a village a nation; so can an idea, mythical though it may be, develop into a culture.

The core of Indo-European thinking can be linguistically traced back to a homologue; a metaphoric representation of the universe tied to the form of the human body; a concept that framed all forms of knowledge. The medieval conception of Adam Kadmon: the microcosm of the body as mirror of the world; is one of last complete forms of this root concept whose echoes still ring in the mind of modern man. (Lincoln 1986)

The social body of any large grouping of people is differentiated into organic/metaphoric analogs within the homologue; the legs of this metaphysical/metaphoric body were the captured peoples who bore the burdens of the body’s weight. The belly was filled by farmers, the lungs with the shifting breezes of fashion in the arts and common thought. The arms served the head and protected all the body with warriors. The head served as the domain of priests and bards who kept the memories alive in ritual and song. (Lincoln 1986)

That this is the essential structure of the modern nation state in simplified terms is obvious. The evolution of this original core concept, through contact with the militant patriarchal monotheism of the Mid-East, is the basis of today’s political structures. The ego or soul of these monolithic nation states is always centered on a single embodying figure; king; queen, raja, president. Thus the homologue is complete with an indwelling overlord who personifies the nation.

Pre settlement mythologies are almost always lacking an embodiment in total aspect in their mythology who symbolizes the tribes’ political fusion. The non-hierarchical tales of hunters and gatherers seem odd to those raised on tales produced in tiered societies. (Levy 1963) No recurrent themes centering on a single meta motif comparable to the mythologies of the literate early city-states can be found in nomadic peoples. Just as modern advertising has induced newcomers to technical civilizations into mass-market advertising as demographic targets, so did the scribes, bards and priests of the earliest nation states craft tales, ritual and ceremony to induce citizenship in the new urbanites. The conscious creation of cultural context was the psycho-social revolution of civilizations dawn.

Mythics and Lithics in the South West:

The development of archeology in the South West has been marked by wild theories and anomalous finds. Controversies raged over carbon dated sites that ranged over 100,000 to 28,000 to 14,000 years B.P. Wild theories were rampant in the 1960’s and 70‘s. (Kidder 1969) Riddles such as the Kennewick Man and 14,000 year old remains from South America may renew the old controversies; as Southern California is apparently part of a global puzzle featuring Indonesia, Polynesia and the Western shores of the Americas. (Heyerdahl 1952)

When the distribution of linked elements, both physical and cultural, match in a given context; confidence increases in the accuracy of our interpretations. As mythic and lithic portions of the South West’s prehistory are correlated, the focal point may well be the ceremonial complex at the foot of Mt. Tecate. (Shipek 1985) Its influence may be detected over a vast region of coastal North and South America, into the Pueblo cultures and the Great Plains.

If coastal migrations passed Australia at least 60,000 years ago after leaving Africa at least 120,000 years ago; reaching Baja California at least 30,000 years ago is not unlikely. The Bering crossing Shoshone speaking peoples descent into the South met these coastal/river dwellers at the headwaters of the Colorado River.

Any cultural cross-fertilization produces fruit that spreads from a center where the contact occurred. The later accretions follow the contours of the previously held mythical morphology. The Pueblo bands were the product of the coastal rivers peoples who met the plains and mountain peoples; or so the mythic record seems to say. This may include recent migrants who may have arrived during the last thousand years, the Zuni and Hopi’s. (Kidder 1969)

Proving these mythic connections is not the purpose of this paper. Attempting to tease a deeper cultural provenience from lithic remains is my goal at this time. So with out further preamble let us approach Site# SDI-5220 in San Diego’s Northern coastal area.

Site# SDI-5220:

The dense clustering of tools and artifacts from grinding platforms, projectile points, quartz crystals to large quantities of debitage around an inverted abalone shell over a scallop from the Gulf of California indicate a ceremonial/shamanic axis to the activities there. (Kirch 2001) Site SDI-5220 is located along a corridor that connects the coastline to the mountain eco zones exploited by the San Dieguito/La Jollan peoples who resided there about 7,000 years ago. (Moriarty 1969)

The regular breezes through out this large canyon along with a year round spring make this a very desirable location, now and in the distant past. The movement of inland people into his area from the increasingly arid conditions of the Great Basin may have included contact with coastal dwellers with traditions of great antiquity who were without the use of stone tools. (Moriarty 1969)

The artifact clusters of SDI-5220 are a complex of tools currently cataloged without reference to the data available in other arenas of study. Linguistics, mythology, biological anthropology, lithics, ethnographies and ritual traditions are all separate, usually unrelated, domains.

The possibility of a non stone tools using coastal culture who adopted an inland form of life upon contact with migrants from the Great Basin may be revealed by such cross referencing. The coastal dwelling Diegueno are not dismissed by Moriarty. (1969)

The evidence of a large culture area having common traditions, origins and tools is suggested by George Carter in his claim that from Northern Mexico, to Oregon, to the Great Basin, a common lithic style is evident in the archeological record. (Moriarty 1969) The stone bowls similar to the ceremonial kava vessels of Polynesia that have been found off the coast of San Diego are one of a number of correlations between California and South American coastal Indians that are generally dismissed. The lack of usable stone in coral islands did not stop recent Polynesians from building burnt canoe outriggers and crossing the Pacific. (Heyerdahl 1953)

The islands that appear during peak glaciations would have been rich in usable stone. These islands run east to west along major wind and ocean currents straight across the Pacific. (Kirch 2001) What evidence of this coastal Pacific origin is visible in the artifacts of SDI- 5220?

Analysis of Spring 2001 Stone tool artifacts from SDI-5220

Analysis of usage of stone tools recovered by City College students in spring 2001 revealed: Twenty four Chipped Stone tools, eighteen Scrapers; thirty five Cores; eighteen Flake Tools, fifteen Hammer stones; two bi-faces, six Projectile Points, seven Choppers; three Cobble tools; one Graver and one Drill.

According to Odell and Odell Vereecken; the accuracy rate in a blind test to determine the errors common in stone tool analysis favors accurate location of wear and function. As I am a rank amateur in lithic analysis I limited my investigations to locating usage wear and probable function. (Odell 1980)

The predominance of scrapers indicates hide or woodworking. Odell’s research indicates less than a fifty percent accuracy rate in determining types of material worked. Only edge rounding was detected on scrapers; no definite striations were found even under high magnification.

The apparent crudeness of the stone working compared to other finds in North America and the South West might suggest this was a nascent tool culture introduced to the coastal peoples by immigrants from the desert. ‘Eden points’ found in nearby Yuma dated at 7-11 thousand years old, at approximately the carbon date of SDI-5220, are comparable to the finest stone tools ever produced. (Macgowan 1962)

Wilmsen (1968) states that, “Variation in flaked stone artifacts may be attributed to a number of factors. The inherent qualities of the raw materials from which artifacts are made are probably significant among these.” Considering the poor fracturing characteristics of much of the stone used here it is likely a factor in the apparent crudeness of the worked implements.

Frisson (1968) details resharpening techniques as applied to stone with regular fracturing properties and medium hardness. The hardness of many of the stones examined is a factor in the crude forms, and is also a likely cause of the limited retouch visible to the untrained eye.

The clustering of artifacts types apparent in the fieldwork from spring 2001 at SDI-5220 seems to be evidence of a social gathering/working area, or of a ‘tool graveyard’ similar to those used by New Guinea tribesmen, as described by Toth, Clarke and Ligbue in ‘The Last Stone Ax Makers.’ Clustering of debitage and broken unused tools indicates a manufacturing area. The broken metates found nearby may be evidence of this spots use as a tool ‘graveyard’. (Toth 1992)

Moriarty (1969) suggests the local San Diego tool complex is “… probably a local representative of an older and geographically more exclusive complex. The accumulating evidence suggests that the San Dieguito complex be applied solely to the Pacific coast manifestations of this broad complex.” He seems to believe a coastal origin for the San Dieguito has been prematurely dismissed. (Moriarty 1969) The anomalous find of a complete abalone shell inverted over a scallop shell from the Gulf of California at SDI-5220 bears a strong resemblance to a ceremony of appropriation of territory by Polynesian peoples. The coastal question is not closed. (Kirch 2001)

Anomalous Data:

In this authors collection of artifacts is a wooden spear sharpening stone shaped like a rabbit, and a stone guide for moccasin making. These are evidence of an Inuit style of coastal life with ties to the north, in this author’s opinion. Krober himself stated that Luieseno mythology bears a strong resemblance to myth south of the equator and Polynesian style mythology. (Waterman 1910) Was San Diego a crossroads of several cultures of various tools and traditions? Anomalous findings not in accord with the bulk of evidence are often lost in cataloging for expected results. Minshall’s Texas Street Man artifacts were declared by Chinese anthropologists to be identical to 600,000 to 1,000,000 year old tools associated with Peking man. These findings led Leaky himself into association with Minshall and Carter in seeking funding for excavation in the American Southwest. What other evidence has been lost in cataloging for a predetermined outcome? (Macgowan 1962)

Prehistory as well as history has always been a political tool. Unseating the Middle East as the cradle of civilization is too politically charged a topic for academically bound tenured professionals to tackle. No one wants loss of prestige from a radical theory to scuttle a career. I hope to create prestige from radical theory and challenging the authority structure built on half-truths and lies that currently support the ideologies of global religious terrorism. As an anthropologist I expect no less of myself, or of others who recognize the need to escape from the political conceptual vacuum surrounding anthropological discovery.

Polynesians in California Prehistory:

The artifact assemblage at SDI-5220 fit’s the profile of similar sites in this area and the time period according to C-14 testing. That there is a tie between the Kumuaay mythic record to the historic mythology of much of the Western Hemisphere; and perhaps that of the Old World; by way of proto Polynesians, coastal Intuits, north moving Africans from Brazil, and south moving Bering migrants; although unlikely; is a very exiting possibility.

“The stormy scientific debate over the origins of the first Americans has taken a surprising geographic turn. Human skulls unearthed in Brazil and ranging in age from about 8,000 to 11,000 years look more like modern Africans and Australian aborigines than like modern Asians or Native Americans, according to a report presented in Kansas City at last week's annual meeting of the American Association of physical Anthropologists."

This finding contradicts the influential theory that Asians were the first to cross the now submerged Bering land bridge to North America around 12,000 years a says Walter A. Neves of the University of Sao Paulo. Instead, African migrants may have actually may have been the first to take this southern route into the Americas, theorizes Neves, who directed the Brazilian excavation and fossil analysis. At least 45,000 years ago, he adds, migrating Africans reached Australia via a southern route.

The exact timing of population movements that brought Africans to what is now South America remains unknown, the Brazilian scientist says. “The anatomical similarities of Australians and the first South Americans are related to the shared African ancestry" Neves says. "We need to understand patterns of prehistoric human migration through Siberia much better."“ (Scientific News 2001)

Southern California’s coastal population drop beginning about 3,000 BC may be described in the Kumuaay myth of the ‘wise ones of the snake’ dispersing to every corner of the globe; bringing agricultural rituals and a core of common symbols; to peoples everywhere. (Halpern 1997) The Coincidence of Egyptian, Sumerian, Hindu, Chinese and Olmec calendars marking the dawn of their empires all starting within a century or two of 3,100 BC. may be linked to this ancient Diaspora. Strategies to explore these enticing and remote possibilities are becoming available. Despite current interpretations being strongly invested in support of Bering origins; some evidence has not been completely overlooked. Moriarty says the evidence is slim for stating the coastline of San Diego was uninhabited before the La Jolla period.

“The San Dieguito people who arrived on the coast in the general area north of La Jolla appear to have found it unoccupied (Moriarty, 1967:553). Evidence from the site at Agua Hedionda demonstrates a distinct transition from the Early Playa-Flake Complex to the marine- oriented pebble tool industry of the La Jolla Complex. This single evidence is as yet insufficient to support the theory that there was no earlier occupation on the Southern California coast before the arrival of the San Dieguito.” (Moriarty 1969)

Buscaren points out the use of wooden implements among the Ipia-Tipia until the current era. A wood using coastal culture would be essentially invisible in the archeological record.

“It must be remembered, however, that many subsistence activities may not be represented in the archaeological record. For example, recent research with the Paipai Indian peoples of Baja California revealed various subsistence activities that were conducted with wooden tools rather than stone tools including a rabbit throwing stick, an agave digging stick, a club, bow and arrows, and mention was made of a lance (throwing spear). The arrow and lance tips were all wooden. Wooden tools may not last very long in the archaeological record. Their absence during data recovery could cause a distorted interpretation of prehistoric subsistence activities based on the differential recovery of kinds of artifacts.” (Bouscaren 2001)

This observation alone casts the whole archeological presupposition of defining ancient human occupations by stone tool presence alone into serious doubt.

Connections and Questions:

The presence of numerous scrapers in association with a warm water spring may indicate a hide preparation area. Warm water can also be used to soften wood for bending. Perhaps smoothed planks were floated downstream to be used for plank canoes of the type used in the Channel Islands. A possible trade network involving trade for treated skins is suggested. The interpretation of this limited data, taken out of the context of the total set of information extracted from this site, is necessarily incomplete.

Obviously the interpretations of the archeological record are insufficient as they stand to approach such a vast presumption as a connection to cultural histories around the entire Pacific Rim. The limits of current archeological research strategy as outlined by Schiffer. “Schiffer (1976) -and also Reid et al. 1974) outlines four research strategies: 1) describing and explaining past behavior by examining material culture from the past (by reference to laws), 2) acquiring or developing laws for the study of the past through the study of present material culture, 3) examining the past for general laws applicable to both the past and the present, and 4) describing and explaining behavior through study of modern material culture. After exploring the literature and evaluating some of the problems archaeologists face, Schiffer (1976:187) concludes that:

‘ ...for many subjects now receiving attention, such as cultural formation processes, a more efficient approach to law acquisition lies in Strategy 2 of behavioral archaeology. By using this strategy, archeologists can test various laws using one or another kind of experimental design on data from ongoing cultural systems...since the significance of laws to archaeology is appreciated more widely, the way is prepared for the expansion of modern material studies into heretofore unexplainable domains. The only legitimate boundaries of such studies is that more of the variables under examination be measurable in the archeological record.’” (Cordea 1987)

One unexplainable domain in current theory that could be examined is the common root of shamanism as a global phenomenon. The common symbolic, ritual languages in use by shamanic cultures of west coastal South America, the Pueblo Indians of the South West, central Mexico, the Mississippi basin Mound cultures, Australian aborigines; Polynesia, India, China, Egypt, Sumeria, are all usually dismissed as a by product of the collective unconscious.

“Indeed the shamanic phenomenon is increasingly recognized as presenting detailed similarities in structure and formation in its numerous manifestations across the planet. According to Elaide, the similarity between Australian and Siberian (and Kumiai) initiation practices confirms both the authenticity and antiquity of such shamanic rites. The problem becomes how to account for this similarity. Is it due to migration and diffusion? Or is it the product of the archetypal patterns of the human mind, which generate similar responses to the universal predicament independently? Or do both necessarily play a part? Roger N. Walsh neatly capsulate the problem: ‘If migration is the answer, that migration must have begun long, long ago. Shamanism occurs among tribes with so many different languages that diffusion from a common ancestor must have begun at least 20,000 years ago. It is difficult to explain why shamanic practices would remain stable for so long in so many cultures while lan guage and social practices changed so drastically. This makes it seem unlikely that migration alone can account for the long history and far flung distribution of shamanism.” (Ryan 1999)

Searches; Strategies and Surveys:

The research strategies that might reveal the patterns of a cultural origin point for much of this widespread similarity are discussed in “Hawaiiki”. (Kirch 2001) The natural laboratory like situation of the Pacific Islands have spurred advanced anthropological techniques. The genetic and triangulation phylogenetic approaches may bring surprising results when applied to Southern California as a reference point.

“Vogt elaborated on the theoretical implications of the "genetic model," explicitly comparing it to models of adaptive radiation in biology:

‘In brief, the genetic model assumes that genetically related tribes, as determined by related languages, physical types, and systemic patterns, are derived from a small proto-group with a proto-culture at some time in the past. The model resembles that of the zoologist who views a certain species of animal as evolving and making an adaptive adjustment to a given ecological niche and then radiating from this point as the population expands into neighboring ecological niches. As the population moves into different ecological settings, further adaptive variations occur in the species. But these variations are traceable to the ancestral animal, or, in other words, back to the proto-type. In the genetic model, as applied to human populations, we assume that a small proto-group succeeds in adapting itself efficiently to a certain ecological niche and in developing certain basic systemic patterns which constitute the basic aspects of the proto-culture. If the adaptation proves to be e fficient, the population expands, and the group begins to radiate from this point of dispersal. As members split off from the proto-group and move into neighboring ecological niches, they make appropriate adaptations to these new situations and begin to differentiate - that is, there are adaptive variations from the proto-type over time as the members of the genetic unit spread from the dispersal area.’”

“We seek to develop a triangulation method in which the sub disciplines of historical linguistics, archaeology, comparative ethnology and biological anthropology independently contribute their data and assessments to the common objective of historical reconstruction. We derive the label from a surveying metaphor, which should be immediately understood by most field archaeologists at least. In the classic method of survey by triangulation, sightings are taken from two or more points along a known baseline to an unlocated point which one wishes to fix in space. As these sightings begin to converge on that point, a "triangle or polygon of error" is defined, within which the real point lies. So it is with our proposed triangulation method. Our "sight-lines" are those provided by the independent evidence of historical linguistics, archaeology, comparative ethnography, biological anthropology, or even oral traditions. As these converge and cross-check each other, the target of our sig htings - some aspect of the historical record - comes increasingly into focus, and the "polygon of error" decreases in size. Of course, our focus on the historical "reality" may never be crystal clear, but, as in surveying, triangulation is always preferable to estimating the position of a point from back sights taken from a single station. (Kirch 2001)

Secrets, Clues and Rosetta Stones:

The singular appearance of a culture hero origin myth in Yuman oral history and a founder myth series from Bolivia to northern Mexico should be enough to generate some questions about this regions position in prehistory. (Heyerdhal 1953) Numerous alternate migration theories with some physical evidence are rapidly altering the archeology of the Americas.

“Kuuchamaa, the sacred mountain” (Shipek 1985) revealed the deep secrecy that had delegated the Kumuaay to the status as the most irreligious people in North America. Her informants gave a picture of a very advanced theology; a father god who had sent a man to teach peace and truth to the peoples, and a geographic center of shamanic powers and political influence. In “The Origins of the State” (Lowie 1927) a special place is given to the ‘proto-state’ of the Yuman tribes in that a given territory was held to be governed by a coalition of shamans. The Old Testament prophets are shamans by another name. Public interest would skyrocket if the theological correlations were properly presented. T.T. Waterman’s (1910) clarification of the ‘electric fireball’ aspect of Chaup bears a remarkable resemblance to the ‘burning bush’ of biblical fame. These fragments of evidence are far from compelling; yet flimsier evidence led archeologists to Troy; and currently justifies modern religious t errorism.

Theory can guide research. The possibility, however slim, of South West anthropology providing a Rosetta Stone for understanding the cultural evolution from shamanism to theocratic civilizations must be explored. Local archeology might reveal data that can be used to combat terrorism fueled by political/religious divisions produced by poor understanding of our own cultural evolution.


That Thunder Beings elevated to national idols are the fore fathers of modern gods and nation states can be demonstrated in the archeological record. In modern times this nearly happened again during the Lakota wars of the 1870's. The evolution of tribal to national gods becoming common knowledge would remove religion as a basis of war. As these misunderstood national gods are the prime reasons such conflicts exist, this would seem a desirable goal. (Berlo 2000)

The connections between ideas producing understanding is the goal of every science; not mere amassing of data. Anthropology and archeology are characterized by mountains of unrelated data. It is time to survey the territory and establish trails from one mountain peak to another.

It is time to establish a usable map with a minimum of dead ends. In connecting these arenas of knowledge, archeological understanding will develop trails, then roads, then freeways of comprehension. Traffic in concepts will increase; producing a net profit of global peace and a truly international community with shared understanding and common goals. This to me is the minimum of anthropology’s potential contribution to the progress of humankind. I feel this is not an unreasonable expectation.

Meaning and purpose can never be removed from the human equation. The partial satisfaction of these needs by art, literature and religion need completion via our common heritage and shared future as human beings. Respect for our symbiotes, the living creatures that share our Earth, and the Earth Itself, is a necessary by product of the anthropological perspective.

Our destiny in the starry heavens may hinge on the development of anthropological outreach meeting the need of humankind for a unifying conception leading to world peace.

Perhaps I have overstepped my bounds in seeing so much in a pile of rocks and a few forgotten stories of our ancestors. I am much more afraid of seeing too little and too late. May anthropology and archeology become the bridge between the humanities, linking literature to psychology, religion to history, technology to cultural evolution. May my amateur enthusiasm infect the professionals with renewed zeal in their chosen specialties. May we rediscover the great adventure that is our human existence. And most of all, may this paper spur more research into expanding San Diego’s cultural provenience.


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Supplement; the Potrero Ceremonial Complex: Snakes, States and Shamans

It is generally assumed that New World culture developed in almost pristine isolation from the Old World. Numerous recent discoveries; including the Kenniwick Man; have cast doubt on this assumption. Parallel development can have a number of causal factors excluding contamination with other cultural elements.

This paper is an exploration of symbolic synthesis and syncretism in shamanist society; the origins of statecraft and theocracy. It is discussed in terms of evidence; mythic and material; of a possible common root to a large portion of North American sacred symbols and mythology. This evidence is not discussed in exact geographic detail to protect it from desecration.

Somewhere in San Diego county a silent sentinel stands watch over an ancient mystery. Hiding in the shadows from the noisy village that crowds its shore, an ancient guardian waits and keeps its secrets in hidden canyons and mountain tops. The winter solstice points its arrow at the marker stone of the Eagle and the Snake; whose writhing are writ in stone and shadow. A sacred place where first turned inland the coastal tribes who had rounded Baja and returned to the Pacific. The homeland of the Feathered Serpent, nest of the Thunderbird, resting place of the Winds. The keepers of the Holy Quartz; who traded as far as Canada those healing crystals of the Sacred Land. Let us walk a while with these ancient Shamans, along the rocks and shadows of Kuuchamaa, The Father; and the Great Mother of the Kumuaay.

The Friars who founded the Mission in San Diego suffered the only casualty in all the history of the early colonization by the Dominicans. Fresh from the Inquisition they came to a land where gigantic snakes were worshipped as gods. Where Sorcerers ruled and people went about nearly naked. They approached the task of conversion with relish. The Snake bit back. Native people in San Diego county took a lot of the brunt impact to the Tribal Cultures of California. Little of this lore survived to be told to Alfred Krober in the early part of this century. For some cultures even the memories of their Sacred Lands was forgotten. Let us journey together to one these forgotten lands.

Shamans dominated Southern California's ancient tribal culture. The shamanic method may perhaps best be explained by these words of Giordano Bruno, from his book "Devine Frenzies":

"These frenzies of which we speak, and whose manifestations are seen in these dialogues, do not arise from forgetfulness, but from a remembrance. They are not undirected frenzies, but love and desire for the beautiful and the good, a model of perfection one proposes to attain for himself by being transformed into its likeness. It is not the rapture of one caught in the snare of bestial passion under the law of an unworthy fate; but a rational force following the intellectual perception of the good and the beautiful comprehensible to man to whom they give pleasure when he conforms himself to them, so that he is enkindled by their dignity and light, and is invested with the quality and condition which makes him illustrious and worthy. By intellectual contact with that godlike object he becomes a god; and he has thoughts of nothing but things divine and shows himself insensible and impassible to those things which ordinary men feel the most and by which for they are most tormented; he fears nothing, and in his love of divinity he scorns other pleasures and does not give any thought to his life."

The vehicle of choice for many Southern California Shamans was a beverage called Toulache. Toulache is made form one of the most disorienting psychotropic drugs in existence, Datura. Unlike more gentle hallucinogens its visions are often terrifying and quite persistent. Most people endured the terror only once under the strict supervision of an experienced shaman. Few medicine men would take such a voyage more than once a year, avoiding the toxic effects it can produce. Yet these people believed an empty Void created the World, unlike the mythology of any of their neighbors. Very unlike the Aztec deities and the rivers of blood spilt to slake their endless thirst. Distinct from the Pueblo Indians who share the custom of sand painting with their coastal cousins. Polynesians believe the world comes from a Void. What could lie at the heart of this mystery? Geography as mental maps were often mixed in tribal tales whose members could see the evidence of each tales truth written in t he stars and the landscape of the Tribe. Here was the home of the Great Eagle and the Great Snake. San Diego's ancient people followed the markings left by a gigantic Serpent who had swallowed all the knowledge in the world long ago to the sacred center of their collective Remembering.. His defeat was celebrated in a yearly winter solstice ritual near vast oak groves that could feed all the clans and all the bands of the Kumuaay Indians. The very mountains seem to look on at the People of the Sage and Eagle's camp. Soaring birds carried everyone's spirits high into the echoing hills as children squealed in delight. The big festival and the winters solstice tales.

Across the globe this tale resonates with the same theme spelled out in thousands of epic histories of The First Men. We are here at a sacred site where the original mysteries of migratory man were still remembered and celebrated as they were before Sumeria and Egypt rose from the sand. We stand at the very threshold of The Gods.

The Clans Gathering was feasting and dancing as old friends from each corner of Kumuaay territory met for the Burning of The Great Snake. The mix of food was amazing as each tribe shared its special dish. Young men and women cast sly glances at each other as the Elders clucked disapprovingly and chuckled secretly to themselves. The days are very short and the night is cool. The Ceremony would drive the Sun back up into the Sky as it had from time immemorial. Things grew somber as the three days grew near they would bring the Sun to a new birth. Who would journey into the Underworld carrying all the hopes and dreams of the people? Which candidate for talking to the Gods in the terror of Toulache would fate select?

The gambling for this honor was frantic as the day drew near. He would fly to the Sun on the wings of the Feathered Serpent, he would gamble with the Gods for the Fate of the People. Only the greatest gambler in the tribe would go before the Sun to win a boon for the People. Near dawn a shout rises from the gaming tents as the one who would fly to the heavens staggered from his winnings; which were soon divided and shared to every clan. He was taken by the Shamans to learn what he needed for his flight to the heavens. Grinding pigments and fixing ceremonial dress now concerns everyone. Children pound mortars for the paints and the sand painting that would color the Ceremonies with those hues the Ancient ones had taught to the First People. The night before the Great Snake would crawl down the slopes to its flaming rebirth the dancing is quiet and deep. The old tales are spoken in whisper to the young ones who secretly fear the Snake who comes to eat the Sun. Can the People reall y defeat such a monstrous foe?

In the morning a Sacred Conch shell sounds through out the camp. The Great Snakes tongue leads the procession winding down the hillside. The Chosen One raves; spittle flies from a face convulsed with terrors as he is led by two helpers who guide him. He has had more then five times the Toulache given in the rite for coming of age; he cannot see the ground before him in the raging visions he shouts to the those in his hearing at the head of the Snake. His words will be remembered and studied for signs of the coming year. With luck this man would regain his senses in a week or so; or become a Ghost Prophet; forever caught between the Worlds. Eagle bone whistles shriek and drums beat as the terrified children cling to their mothers and seasoned warriors sham a trembling fear.

From Sumeria to Rome to China evidence exists of ceremonies similar to this at the root of every culture. Here the Thirteen warriors of the old year battle the Thirteen of the New. Led by the ravings of the Chosen One the Shadow of the Great Serpent rises up the slope to the Guardian Stone, Omphalos of the Kumuaay. The voice of the Gods echoes from the hillsides as the Toulache gives voice to the battle of the Gods being fought for the Peoples New Year. As the battle rages the coming darkness settles on the valley. Weakened by thirst and exhausted by the constant shouting the Serpents tongue grows weak and the Warriors of the old year are driven off the Guardians ground. The Procession arises and follows the retreating servants of the Old Snake around the hillside. There his gigantic burning body casts the image of a Great Eagle onto the Cliffside. The New Year has begun; the Eagle's People have won!

They file on through the night past the bones and broken bodies of those who do not drink Toulache. Their ghostly forms scattered across the hills as they return along the longer gentle slope around to the East. The year would be good; the rains would come. The People had won another year of protection from the Guardian.

This scenario drawn from the worlds store of myth and ritual contains the seeds that grew into Nation States and the Great Faiths. It could very likely be what was enacted not so many years ago in the San Diego Mountains. It could be what was enacted in ancient Sumeria, Jerusalem, Peking or Egypt. It is a proto-type root myth of what might have been the precursor of the modern mind.

May we find the Sacred Country in each of our Hearts. May we acknowledge our debt to the Ancient Shamans who began what became Art, Poetry, Science, Psychology, Music, Drama, History, Religion and Statecraft. May we understand how our roots are shared even if our branches are divided. May we understand the birth of Wisdom in the Human Race, in the Shamans Song that began it all.

Again; Giordano Bruno; For Shamans and People of Good Will Everywhere;

"But it is a heat enkindled in the soul by the sun of the intellect, and a divine force which sets wings upon him; so that always bringing him closer to the intellectual sun, rejecting the rust of earthly cares he becomes gold proven and pure, acquires the feeling of divine and internal harmony, and conforms his thoughts and acts to the common measure of the law innate in all things."

For the Kumuaay People

Fred M.


-- Raymond Lutz - 11 Jun 2007
Topic revision: r3 - 01 Aug 2007, RaymondLutz
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