Split-twig Figurines in Cave
Split figurines in Cave

Split-twig Figurines in Cave
Split-twig figurines, as found in a remote Grand Canyon cave in 1995. Photo credit: J. Mead and S. Emslie, Courtesy: Grand Canyon National Park.

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Split-twig figurines have been found in dry caves in the Great Basin and on the Colorado Plateau. They are affiliated with the Desert Culture or western Archaic tradition (6,500 BC - 500 AD). While the exact function of split-twig figurines in Desert Culture remains a mystery, most researchers agree that they were probably associated with hunting ritual. Their occurrence in remote, relatively inaccessible caves not used for habitation indicates that these figurines were not used as toys. Additionally, the figurines are usually carefully placed under rock cairns, rather than haphazardly left on the cave floor.

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