Our third chapter in in the Lost History of Ancient America edited by Frank Joseph is an article titled Egyptian Style Cat Burial in Illinois written by Professor Julia Patterson (1931-2015). I can find nothing about Professor Patterson professionally, and other than this article in the edited volume, I can’t find anything else she may have written. She is presented in the book as a former professor of archeology and anthropology at London College and the University of Illinois, Urbana (Joseph 2017:17). So I would expect to find something with her name on it. I have nothing to compare this article too as far as her writing style. If anyone has anything they can share about Professor Patterson with me, it would be appreciated.
The article sufferers from the shortcomings of a lot of the other articles in this volume. There are exactly two footnotes in the article and they both refer to a magazine article in Science from 2015 written by David Grimm. Beyond that there are no citations, footnotes or otherwise, and the actual site is never referenced nor is the actual paper about the site. I find this strange as an academic, especially in the field of archeology working at a university or college, would have had access to the site report. Another slight anomaly is that the volume indicates that Patterson passed away in 2015, which is the same year that both the paper and the article about the site were published. It’s a quick turn-around, not impossible, just quick.
The article begins with a description of a site in St. Louis, Missouri. This is the Elizabeth Site, a 2000 year old Hopewell mound site. The article then makes an incredible claim:
“The Hopewell were a mound builder people of far-flung Traders and skilled Artisans who florist from Circa 600 BCE to their extermination at the hands of Native American tribes by 400, CE. (Patterson 2017)” (emphasis added)
There’s a great deal wrong with this statement. To start, ‘Hopewell’ refers to a culture movement that began around 200 B.C.E It encompasses a large group of Native American tribes, not a single people. Hopewell culture stretched from as far North as Michigan, as far South as Florida, as fear West as Nebraska and all the way to Virginia. The Hopewell center of culture appears to be in Ohio with its impressive Mound City, and Newark Earthworks, and Serpent Mound. Hopewell sites share artistic traditions along with their mound building skills. They also maintained an impressively large trading network taking advantage of the large waterways they routinely built their bigger settlements along. Sometime around 350-400 C.E the Hopewell tradition began to decline. There’s no clear reason for this, but several factors appear to play into the decline:
“Little is known about why Hopewell mound-building ended, either about AD 200 in the lower Illinois Valley, and about AD 350-400 in the Scioto river valley. There is no evidence of failure, no evidence of widespread diseases or heightened death rates: basically, the smaller Hopewell sites simply aggregated into larger communities, located away from the Hopewell heartland, and the valleys were largely abandoned. (Hurst 2016)”
“Around 400 A.D Hopewell culture began to decline for an unknown reason. Archaeologists hypothesize is that there was a cultural collapse within the communities, as the succeeding settlements showed signs of a large-scale societal transition to larger, permanent, more isolated communities. Also, technological developments — including the introduction of the bow and arrow — made for a shift in hunting, gathering, and war, which may have forced Hopewell societies to become more secluded for survival. Earthen mounds became less prominent and the trading routes diminished in this period; but the legacy of the Hopewell cultures can still be seen today. (OHC N.d)”
There is no evidence to support the article’s claim that ‘The Hopewell’ were wiped out by ‘Native Americans’. Most likely the Hopewell culture simple did as all culture movements do, and simple evolved and was absorbed into other culture groups around them. Spawning new traditions that then continue the pattern of one culture evolving from another.
However, this opening statement by the article set up the actual argument the article is trying to make. That the Hopewell, were not Native Americans, but some other culture that was either influenced or directly descended from Ancient Egypt. The article tries to defend this by using the unusual burial of a bobcat kitten.
The burial in question is known as Burial 22 (Perri et. al. 2015), and was originally marked as a ‘canid skeleton’ by the original excavators. It wasn’t until Angela R. Perri, Terrance J. Martin, & Kenneth B. Farnsworth reexamined the remains that they discovered the classification error.
“The burial did not appear to represent the ritual sacrifice of an animal but instead paralleled the mortuary treatment of humans from the mound, with care taken to position the remains and to include grave goods. (Perri et. al. 2015)”
Perri et. al. (2015) did an extensive look at the bobcat, and found some interesting things. One such detail that the article focuses on is the necklace found with the bobcat kitten.
“The only available plan-view photograph taken during the excavation that exposed Burial 22 indicates that the fully articulated animal was placed on its left side with its head oriented northeast (Figure 8) and was not associated with any human remains. Burial pits were not observed for any of the burials (human or felid) on the ramp extension. Two carved bone pendants and four shell beads were found posterior to the front legs and positioned in the area of the animal’s chest in an arrangement that suggested to the excavators a necklace or collar (Charles, Leigh, and Albertson 1988:165; Leigh and Morey 1988:281). (Perri et. al. 2015)”
“Included on the bobcat’s necklace (Figures 8 and 9) was a pair of effigy carnivore canine teeth that were carved from mammal bone. (Perri et. al. 2015)”
“The bulbous outline is more reminiscent of a black bear (Ursus americanus) canine than a canine from a canid or felid. The Elizabeth Mound 7 bobcat and a domesticated dog from the habitation site of Dickson Camp (Fulton County) (Cantwell 1980:484) are the only two Illinois Hopewellian animals known to have been buried with bear-canine or bear canine-effigy pendants. (Perri et. al. 2015)”
The article concludes with important, and cautious observations about what this burial means to the archaeological record:
“Nevertheless, the bobcat appears to have survived long enough for the inhabitants of the Elizabeth site to form an attachment that merited an elaborate burial in a sacred mound: the first and only of its kind known. The inclusion of grave goods commonly found in human burials, which have been strung into an apparent necklace (see Figure 1), further alludes to a close bond. Elizabeth Mound 7 Burial 22 is the only decorated wild cat burial known from the prehistoric archaeological record. Though the burial of an individual bobcat is not evidence for domestication, the Elizabeth Mound 7 bobcat burial enhances our understanding of the relationship between prehistoric people and wild cats, revealing strong evidence for the taming of at least some early felids in the Americas. (Perri et. al. 2015)”
Yet the conclusion that the article pulls from all this is a massive, unsubstantiated leap.
“It had been adorned with a necklace reminiscent of ancient Egyptian representations of Bast. (Patterson 2017)”
Bast aka Bastet, an Egyptian cat headed goddess whose history is more evidence of cultural evolution. What she doesn’t have, is any evidence of connection to this bobcat burial. Unlike what the article argues.
The author of the article makes very little effort to actually connect the two things as well. We move from talking about the bobcat burial to talking about unrelated cat burials and mummifications in Egypt, most of which predate the Elizabeth site by almost 3000 years. The author attempts to create an argument that since Egyptian households often mourned the loss of a cat, that this bobcat burial, showing signs of being an ‘elaborate burial’, must be the same thing.
The problem here is, we don’t know why the bobcat was buried. Remember, there are no human burials in relation to it and no other grave goods beyond the necklace. It is not, as the article will have you believe (Patterson 2017), in relation to one of the infant burials from the same site (Perri et. al. 2015). So the article’s divergence into some idea that Bast is a goddess of childbirth and there for the bobcat is somehow a representation of her protecting the infant (which is only one of several infant/child burials at the site) is a major leap of logic.
The article then sums up it’s original argument thusly:
“These comparisons join a vast body of complementary evidence acclimated on behalf of a pharaonic influence at work in pre-Columbian America. At very least, they suggest that, although the Hopewell or not themselves transplanted Egyptians, they were none the less inheritors of cultural legacies left behind by visitors from the Nile Valley to our continent during prehistory. (Patterson 2017)”
There is simply no evidence to support this, and the article doesn’t provide any either.
- There are no citations beyond an already reduce popular science article that is hardly a complete report of the findings of Perri et. al. Grimm’s (2015) article does a fine job of breaking down the work that Perri et. al. did into a brief snapshot, but it shouldn’t be used a the entire basis of an article attempting to do what this article is. What’s more confusing is the lack of use of the actual work of Perri et. al. and their published findings, which are as available as Grimm’s article. There was a clear choice made here, and the one made is confusing coming from a professional archaeologist. I have a personal theory here, but will keep it to myself as I have nothing to back it up just yet.
- The underlying statement that ‘The Hopewell’ were somehow not Native American and were subsequently destroyed by ‘The Native Americans’ is simply wrong. To continue to try and support this narrative of non-native cultures being the actual creators of Native American culture is insulting and damming. With this being the third articles in the Lost History book, the actual agenda of this edited volume is quite clear, and it’s not friendly.
- Lastly, the jump from Hopewell bobcat kitten burial to Bast worship is unfounded and unsupported. Beyond the article simply telling us that’s what we should believe, it provided no evidence to support this. There are no identifiable similarities between the burial and Egyptian cat mummifications, just as there are no similarities between Hopewell culture and Egyptian culture.
This article is not an article I would have selected to help support an argument of pre-Columbian, transoceanic trailers coming to America. It has far too many flaws to overlook, and offerers no actual evidence of anything. It’s more like reading a book-report on a magazine article than anything resembling actual academic research. It’s a strange choice, and not a helpful one for Frank Joseph’s arguments.
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2015 Ancient bobcat buried like a human being . Science Magazine Online. July 2, 2015. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/07/ancient-bobcat-buried-human-being
Hurst, K. Kris
2016 Hopewell Culture – North America’s Mound Building Horticulturalists. About.com. January 09, 2016. http://archaeology.about.com/od/athroughadterms/g/adena.htm. Retrieved 1/10/17
2017 The Lost History of Ancient America. Edited Volume. The Career Press. Wayne, NJ.
Ohio History Central (OHC)
N.d Hopewell Culture. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Hopewell_Culture. Retrieved 1/10/17
2017 The Lost History of Ancient America. Edited Volume by Frank Joseph. The Career Press. Wayne, NJ.
Perri, Angela R., Terrance J. Martin & Kenneth B. Farnsworth.
2015 A Bobcat Burial and Other Reported Intentional Animal Burials from Illinois Hopewell Mounds. Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology. Volume 40, Issue 3. Pages 282-301 | Published online: 01 Jul 2015 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1179/2327427115Y.0000000007. Retrieved 1/10/17
So where are the cat mummies? There are tens of thousands in Egypt – why not in the Americas? Surely a people who brought agriculture, architecture, metal-working and domesticated horses would have brought a couple pairs of tabbies with them from Europe/Africa/Asia.
Damn those Native Americans for exterminating themselves – unless you’re a Mormon or fringer like Joseph and don’t want to admit that you think the Hebrews were in the Americas first.
That was my first reaction too! The fact that this cat burial is unusual tells us that these people weren’t Egyptian, or related to Egyptians. If they were, there would have been cat burials all over the place.
Yeah, damn the Native Americans, everyone, the Vikings, Solutreans, Egyptians, Carthageneans, Pheonicians, Kelts, ancient Brittons, Hell, even Africans were in the Americas before the Native Americans! This is really getting ignorant. Anything to discredit the Natives and their claim to their own cultural patrimony, history and spectacular civilizations and disinherit them from their own ancestors! This disgusts me!
In regards the author, you could be dealing with either a pseudonym for someone else or it could be a case of a non-existent expert created specifically for the task.
One particular subgroup of Moon Hoax proponents (Aulis Online) became notorious for quoting non-existent experts in support of their claims, currently they still do it, but use fake Russian experts because their background is harder to check.
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I’m trying not to outright accuse anyone of that.
Neither was I, but it is something to watch out for along with qualifications from Diploma Mills.
I’ve read about plenty of stupid “the natives were dumb, clearly all of pre-Columbian America had to be settled by teh superiorz Old Worlders” claims before, but this one takes the cake in terms of sheer mental leaps and bloody-mindedness. 😦 A single burried bobcat (probably a tamed pet) is suddenly proof of Bast-worshipping ?! Honestly, WTF.
The “vast body of evidence” spoken about in this claim turns out to be some lady’s (or guy’s) pet theory, made up from whole cloth. Plus, almost no references, and those that are seem to be looted bits from genuine academic works, deliberately taken out of context as much as possible.
If this wasn’t a real claim made by some fringer, masquerading as an academic article, I’d say it’s a Sokal-esque parody of such “no, nothing was Native American” denialists. It would be good enough to be a parody of that crowd, but sadly, it does seem to be genuinely intended by the author.