Spirit Cave Man
Spirit Cave Man eked out a life among the oases of an unforgiving desert. He fished in Great Basin lakes, hunted small mammals and wore clothing woven from strips of pelts and marsh plants.
The hunter survived to his mid-40s. But he had broken his right hand and suffered chronic back pain from arthritis, herniated disks and a fracture in his spine. A blow to the left temple dented and cracked his skull, which had just begun to heal when he died, perhaps from that injury or the advanced abscesses in his upper and lower jaws.
He was buried lying on his right side, arm flexed so his hand rested beneath the chin, in a shallow grave dug in a desert cave. The cave's climate preserved patches of skin and reddish-brown shoulder-length hair on the skull, making him North America's oldest mummy. Dried intestines contained fish bones from a final meal.
Also preserved were his rabbit fur robe, two shrouds of woven tule reeds, and well-worn moccasins of three kinds of animal hide, sewn with hemp and sinew, and patched on the soles. Copyright © 1999 Discovery Communications Inc.
Also check out ARCHAEOLOGY's newsbrief on the Spirit Cave Man, from the September/October 1996 issue
This facial reconstruction is the copyrighted work of Ms Sharon A. Long, Artist/Anthropologist, in cooperation with Dr. Douglas Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution. It is used here with Ms Long's permission. The image may not be used without the express permission of Ms Long [SkullLady@aol.com].
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Last Updated 15 April 2002 by CSmith