100 Years – 100 Objects: Eccentric Flint


September 16, 2009
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The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Dirk, the museum’s curator of anthropology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent human cultures throughout time and around the world, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org – throughout the year.

The Pre-Columbian Maya were excellent craftsmen, capable of producing exquisite pieces like this eccentric piece of chert. Some obsidian and chert tools were used as knives, spear points, etc.; this object had no direct utilitarian purpose.

Archaeologists and anthropologists like to classify items like these as “ceremonial,” meaning they had a purpose we can only guess at. Perhaps it was used as a symbol of political power, hence the term scepter, or manikin scepter.

Explore thousands of years of Native American history in the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas, a permanent exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org

Dirk
Authored By Dirk Van Tuerenhout

As curator of anthropology, Dirk is responsible for the museum’s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits.

Dirk is an expert in human cultures; he curates the Museum’s Hall of the Americas and specializes in native American cultures like the Aztec and Maya.

2 responses to “100 Years – 100 Objects: Eccentric Flint”

  1. Alex Abair says:

    The photo of the eccentric is upside-down. It was hafted to the top of a staff so that the profile of the face and headdress were on top.

  2. Dirk Van Tuerenhout says:

    Hello Alex,

    You are correct. The staff is shown upside down. We will turn the image around. Thank you.

    Dirk Van Tuerenhout

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