And now we arrived at the panel of birds. Tiny birds, each about the size of a silver dollar. Turkey. Hawk. At least one small songbird. Very finely etched into the limestone with a flint tool. Another cave that began and ended in birds. Outside and resting before the hike back to the truck, Simek said, “Think about it. What was there none of in that cave?” I had no answer. Hadn’t there been everything in that cave? “Out of more than three hundred images, there wasn’t a single weapon anywhere,” he said. “We have here an early Mississippian art in which there are no images of violence, where the birds are pure birds, not linked to war—they’re in flight. Even the human figures are not obviously warriors.”
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