Date: ca. 2000 B.C.
Geography: United States, Ohio or Illinois
Medium: Slate, banded
Dimensions: H. 2 5/16 x W. 3 1/2 x D. 1 1/8 in. (5.9 x 8.9 x 2.8 cm)
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number: 1979.206.403
Bannerstones are weights for spear-throwers, the long shafts that propelled the actual darts, thus extending the thrower's reach. In use in North America for some 3,000 years beginning in the fourth millennium B.C., bannerstones took many and varied forms. The form of the present example is known as a double-notched butterfly. It is made of banded slate, a material frequently used in bannerstone manufacture. While bannerstones are functionally utilitarian, the consistent selection of materials and their careful, balanced workmanship distinguish them and indicate their worth as esteemed objects as well as tools. Many have been discovered in burials and funerary mounds in the Ohio and Illinois valleys, for instance, further evidence of their value in ancient times. Bannerstones were out of favor by about 1000 B.C., but spear-throwers persisted in use in a few areas of North America until the sixteenth century. However, by that time spear-throwers had largely been supplanted by bows and arrows.