A Basket Maker Collection in the Museum

Originally Published in 1930

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MUCH of the knowledge of the archeology of southwestern United States has been acquired as the result of the keen observation of ranchmen and cowboys who roamed up and down the isolated canyons after their cattle, and whose reports of caves and ruins have often led to important finds.

A case in point is that of Richard Wetherill who, with his brother John, in the early nineties discovered in Grand Gulch, Utah, the remains of a people different from the Cliff Dwellers, and belonging stratigraphically to an earlier period.

A rigid guitar shaped cradle made of woven twigs
Plate IX — Prehistoric Indian Cradle
Basket Makers of Southwestern United States
Museum Object Number: 29-43-38
Image Number: 13116a

Wetherill called these people Basket Makers. He observed that they differed from the Cliff Dwellers in many ways. For one thing they had long heads which were not deformed by flattening at the back as were the heads of Cliff Dwellers. They do not seem to have built houses or used the bow and arrow, having had only short spears which they used with spear-throwers. They grew a primitive variety of maize, but no cotton; they had no true pottery, but they were master craftsmen when it came to basketry. Their baskets, sandals, woven bags, and cradles [Plate IX] were excellently made.

The Museum is fortunate in possessing a representative collection of Basket Maker and Cliff Dweller material, some of which originally constituted part of the Wetherill collection. It includes baskets made of yucca, grass, and coiled willow, decorated and plain, bone tools used in weaving baskets and mats, gouges for scraping hides, awls of deer and turkey bone, bodkins, whistles and ornaments. There are also implements of wood, spear and arrow points of stone, knives and awls with wooden handles, woven bags, and fur cloth.

Mr. Howard, Associate in the American Section, is now classifying the collection for study upon the several points such as origin, distribution, and relationships, upon which archaeologists are yet undecided regarding these remote ancestors of present Indian tribes.

Cite This Article

"A Basket Maker Collection in the Museum." Museum Bulletin I, no. 4 (April, 1930): 23-26. Accessed July 15, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/456/

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