Thursday, March 26, 2015

Flinders Petrie and the Shelton Mound Wall and Boulder Complex Groups 1 2 3 Together as a Weaver & Vertical Warp-Weighted Backstrap-Type Loom

Perseus in the stars is magnificently shown by a weaving-related image from Beni Hasan in Ancient Egypt. The image is the frontspiece cover to Flinders Petrie, ed., Ancient Egypt, Part IV, Henry Ling Roth and Grace Mary (Molly) Crowfoot, Models of Egyptian Looms, MacMillan and Co., London & New York and Egyptian Research Account, Chicago, 1921, which we found online via at

Well, folks. That quite unusual raised-leg "spinning" figure with distaffs out of Ancient Egypt is the shape of Perseus. Indeed, why else raise that leg there, standing on a pedestal? The image speaks for itself for purposes of our discussion in this posting and those immediately previous. The Pharaonic Egyptian Goddess of Weaving was the all-important deity Neith:
"In pre-Dynastic Egypt, Neith [nt, nit] was already the goddess of weaving.... She protected the Red Crown of Lower Egypt before the two kingdoms were merged, and in Dynastic times she was known as the most ancient one, to whom the other gods went for wisdom. Neith is identifiable by her emblems: most often it is the loom's shuttle, with its two recognizable hooks at each end, upon her head. According to E. A. Wallis Budge (The Gods of the Egyptians) the root of the word for weaving and also for being are the same...."
Compare as an image the modern Merriam-Webster image of a distaff and spindle

Let us now turn to the Shelton Complex. Taken as a whole, the ancient mounds, walls, boulders and stone circle of Groups 1, 2 and 3 of the Shelton Stone Mound Complex near Jacksonville, Alabama,
-- as deciphered individually in our previous postings --
indicate that the Shelton Complex not only marked the stars of Camelopardalis, Perseus, the Pleiades and Aries, but had a further function, which was to "immortalize" in the sky the figure "drawn" in those stars, a heavenly sky figure whose Perseus name is similar to Perchta, the Germanic goddess of Spinning and Weaving, about whom we will write a bit later.

As seen in our decipherment image below, we think that the 3 groups of mounds, boulders and walls at the Shelton Stone Mound Complex taken together represent a human figure seated at an ancient Neolithic ("Stone Age") vertical warp-weighted backstrap-type weaving loom:

Stone mound, wall and boulder locations above are based on maps at Harry O. Holstein, Ph.D., Preliminary Investigations at the Shelton Stone Mound Complex, 1CA637, Calhoun County, Alabama -- Jacksonville State University, Archaeological Resource Laboratory, Research Series No. 3, February 2007, Maps by Jacob Kohute, Graphic Design, Layout and Editing by Valerie Glesner and Rebecca Turley Ridley -- Made Possible by a Faculty Research Grant Provided by Dr. Rebecca Turner, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

In our image decipherment above we have a thumb of Figure 19, "A native loom whose design is common to many parts of the world, and which uses only those materials available in the neighbourhood", from Abbott Payson Usher, A History of Mechanical Inventions, Harvard University Press, 1954, as we found online at Doorway Papers by Arthur B. Custance.

Our image decipherment above also has a thumb of a Chinese silk spinner.

We have provisionally labeled the physical position of the weaver, head, torso, hip, arms and hands, and legs and feet, as also the weighted warp (with tension marks), the warp beam or equivalent, the warp tension or distribution mechanism (heddles ?), including also a rope from the weight to the movable hip area (similar to a backstrap loom), the stick shuttle, the beater viz. batten, the shed and weft insert location, the treadle and the swift viz. cloth take-up.

We emphasize that our detailed explanation is "provisional" because we are novices at the weaving and spinning crafts and have never ourselves used a loom or weaved a single cloth. We leave final analysis of the deciphered figure and the weaving details to experts in the weaving industry.

Needless to say, nevertheless, all the Sheldon Stone Mound Complex stone mounds, walls, and boulders -- as chosen by the ancients to represent certain stars -- even though many other star options were available in this part of the sky to them -- must have helped to fulfill representation of a particular loom viz. weaving function, of that we are sure. Hence, we assume e.g. that three lines in two instances mark three warps or wefts and that the "movable" sitting position and leg motion is marked by "wavy" lines. But that is speculative.

We did an immense amount of reading to become minimally familiar enough with ancient looms and weaving to venture the above graphic image explanation of the alleged loom representation in the stars.

For those similarly situated, below is some of what we learned.

Early in the course of the civilization -- perhaps while developing bast fibre basketry or working with animal hides -- humans in need of protective clothing discovered the principle of textile weaving.

Textiles were "woven" by taking one or more sets of "stringed" longitudinal viz. lengthwise material (yarns, threads, the so-called "warp" in weaving)
and "interweaving" them perpendicularly viz. transversely
with other yarns or threads (the so-called "weft", "fill" or "filling yarn")
thus creating in the process what we call "cloth" for "clothing".

That was basically the prehistoric birth of the textile industry, the largest industry in the world clear up to the modern 15th century.

There appears to be no agreement in the mainstream literature, however, as to when exactly that happened time-wise, although there is every indication that warp-weighted looms or similar basic looms go clear back into the Neolithic era, being possibly evidenced in the Starčevo culture ca. 7500 years ago, and also at Çatal Hüyük, though this is disputed.

Spinning and weaving apparatus are well known in Ancient Egypt. As written at Alfred Lucas and J.R. Harris in Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries:
"Spinning and weaving were among the oldest of the crafts practised in Egypt, and woven fabrics from as early as the neolithic period have been found."
The authors cite to G. Caton Thompson and E.W. Gardner in Desert Fayum. We are therfore on very solid ground historically in alleging the existence of ancient weaving apparatus worldwide.

The figure at the beginning of this posting is from Beni Hasan, not far from Minya, Egypt, ca. 150 miles south of Cairo, and we have long held the opinion that the Minyans were the people who surveyed the Earth in ancient days, a task that came down to us over the millennia as Jason and the Argonauts.

Some of the "functions" that we have assigned in our image above we obtained from some of the sources cited below.

See an excellent and helpful schematic drawing of weaving at Uttu Textiles Design and Innovations. Turn that image 90 degrees and it will help you to better understand the decipherment image above.

Carolyn Priest-Dorman at Vassar has a page of Textile Resources as well as some sources on the Warp-Weighted Loom.

How a backstrap loom functions can be read at Backstrap Weaving.

Maya Bags writes at Rediscovering the back-strap loom:
"Like embroidery, back-strap looming to create textiles has been a highly valued skill since the Maya Classic period, over 2000 years ago. Back-strap looming is a unique form of weaving. One end of a loom is traditionally attached to a wall or a tree and the other end is strapped on the weaver’s back with a strap made of fibers from the agave plant. As the woman pushes her hips forward and back, she raises and lowers the heddle stick. This allows her to push another strand of yarn from right to left (the weft) through the yarns that make up the warp or vertical layout of yarns."
See photographs of ancient weaving techniques at "First People", A Navaho Woman Weaving at Loom.

See for Ecuador Real Estate Tour Visits Peguche Weavers.

See a relatively modern weaver from Nürnberg, Germany, c. 1425 A.D.

See Lennie and Weaving the World of Ancient Mayan Women at

See a schematic figure of a loom at Silk Mark India.

Now what about Pferchta? Was Perseus the same as Pferchta viz. Bertha in ancient days? The Wikipedia writes that Pferchta:
"[W]as known as a goddess who oversaw spinning and weaving, like myths of Holda in Continental German regions.... In many old descriptions, Bertha had one large foot, sometimes called a goose foot or swan foot. Grimm thought ... "It is apparently... the spinning-woman's splayfoot that worked the treadle"".
That describes the stars of Perseus well, which show a figure whose "legs" are of different lengths....

The Wikipedia relates regarding Weaving mythology that:
"In Germanic mythology, Holda (Frau Holle) and Perchta (Frau Perchta, Berchta, Bertha) were both known as goddesses who oversaw spinning and weaving. They had many names."
So what about those names? Let us look at the etymological origin of the term Pferchta, whose purported etymology as related at the Wikipedia article cited above can mostly be dismissed as completely unsupported folk etymology.

RATHER, being a German speaker, we can relate that the term pferchen in German means "to jam together", often said of people and animals, which "jamming" is the "end" product of weaving, whereby the warp and the weft are "beaten" together with a "batten", i.e. jammed together, to form the cloth.

The German term pferchen in turn is surely related to German (p)flechten, which means "to braid", i.e. "weaving" in this sense, to which we have English comparables plait and pleat, i.e. "fold" and thus Low German pletten "to iron clothes".

We might add -- speculatively -- in another case of etymology here, that the origin of the name of the State of Alabama is unknown and disputed, in spite of some clever folksy etymologies one can find online. 

We think that the name of Alabama comes from the brightest star in Perseus, Alpha Persei, normally called Mirfak or Algenib, whose name in ancient sources is also given as the ancient Alchemib -- which could easily have developed into Alabama through linguistic metathesis.

THIS POSTING IS Posting Number 47 of
The Great Mound, Petroglyph and Painted Rock Art Journey of Native America

Flinders Petrie and the Shelton Mound Wall and Boulder Complex Groups 1 2 3 Together as a Weaver & Vertical Warp-Weighted Backstrap-Type Loom

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Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1:
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2:
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.


    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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