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Archaeoastronomical Implications of a Northern Chumash Arborglyph

REX W. SAINT-ONGE SR., JOHN R. JOHNSON and JOSEPH R. TALAUGON
Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology
Vol. 29, No. 1 (2009), pp. 29-58
Published by: Malki Museum, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27825901
Page Count: 34
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Archaeoastronomical Implications of a Northern Chumash Arborglyph
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Abstract

The first known Chumash tree carving from south-central California was recently discovered in the Santa Lucia Range of San Luis Obispo County. We present Saint-Onge's hypothesis that the principal symbolic element of this arborglyph represents Ursa Major, known as 'ili̵hi̵y, and Polaris (the North Star), known as Shnilemun or the Coyote of the Sky, in Chumash oral literature. Some of the most famous rock art sites in south-central California contain a similar motif. Furthermore, the position of this image at many of these sites appears to be one that affords unobstructed views of the North Star. This research builds upon previous studies of archaeoastronomical links between Chumash ritual and rock art. We present further evidence that periodic celebrations were held in conjunction with certain predictable celestial events throughout the year, and that the symbolism of the counterclockwise rotation of Ursa Major around the North Star was embodied in Chumash ceremonial behavior.

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