Pre-Columbian Neolithic Stone Charms [3] from Panama

Item PL04

This Item was Sold on 26 October 2012 for $100

Similar artifacts for sale are often found on the Lithic Artifacts web page. 

Historical Pricing information for this item and similar artifacts can be found at: Historical Artifact Prices.

These Pre-Columbian Neolithic stone charms were found on Navy Island in Gatun Lake just south of the Gatun Locks in the former Panama Canal Zone. As a teenager, I used to fish along the coast of Navy Island and in 1966 I discovered an area on the south east shore of this island that used to be a hilltop overlooking the Chagres river before the Panama Canal was constructed. Waves from the pilot boats and ships eroded the red clay shore and exposed Neolithic artifacts. I used to walk up and down this shoreline and collect celts, arrowheads, scrapers and other lithic artifacts whenever I was fishing in this area. These three small lithic charms are the only ones that I found out of more than 100 artifacts over a period of 3 years and they are absolutely beautiful (see photos below).

Two of the lithic charms are polished stone bird heads and both heads have holes pierced through the eye sockets. One of the bird heads is made out of a white stone (Quartzite?) and it clearly depicts a toucan with a large beak. The second charm is made out of a beautiful green stone (Jade?) and it depicts some kind of waterfowl. The third charm is a small, and smoothly polished lithic celt with a hole on the end opposite that of the cutting edge. Therefore, this charm may have been a functional tool as well as a charm. The material of this small celt is possibly Jadeite which is not found in this region, so there must have been trade or migration through this part of Panama.

I brought several of the artifacts that I collected to U.C. Berkeley in 1969 for identification. A professor in the Dept. of Anthropology said that these artifacts resembled similar items in the U.C. Berkeley collection that were dated between 500 B.C. and 1,000 A.D.

Celt: Length = 30 mm ; Width = 18 mm ; Thickness = 8 mm ; Weight = 6.0 gm

Toucan: Length = 35 mm ; Width = 15 mm ; Thickness = 8 mm ; Weight = 5.0 gm

Waterfowl: Length = 30 mm ; Width = 16 mm ; Thickness = 10 mm ; Weight = 5.8 gm

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