Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rock Art Depicting Commanches, Horses Clad In Leather Armor Discovered In Colorado

Date:
April 1, 2004
Source:
University Of Colorado At Boulder
Summary:
Several new rock art discoveries by a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher depict mounted warriors, likely Comanche, astride horses clad in leather armor and created around 1700 to 1750, the first such petroglyphs found in the state.

A hide painting in color produced in a Jesuit mission in present day New Mexico by an American Indian circa 1720 depicting a band of mounted warriors on leather-armored horses attacking a band of Apache Indians.
Credit: Image courtesy University of Colorado at Boulder

Several new rock art discoveries by a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher depict mounted warriors, likely Comanche, astride horses clad in leather armor and created around 1700 to 1750, the first such petroglyphs found in the state.

Related Articles


CU-Boulder anthropology doctoral student Mark Mitchell, who identified the art, said Plains Indians like the Comanche probably acquired horses from the Spanish in northern New Mexico beginning about 1650 through raiding or trading. The idea of leather-armored horses and riders to deflect spears and arrows probably came from American Indians seeing armored Spanish horse soldiers in the Southwest or Mexico.

"This art tells us about Comanche history through archaeology," Mitchell said. "There is some recorded history but virtually no archaeology of the Comanche, which makes these rock art depictions very valuable.

They should point us to additional places to look for Comanche sites containing artifacts associated with horses."

The new finds by Mitchell include three in Colorado and one in central Kansas. He identified two separate rock art depictions of armored horses on the Purgatoire River in southeast Colorado, both showing the horses' armor as rough trapezoids of leather on each side with straight to slightly flaring front and back margins and curved at the top and bottom. "Both also clearly show an armored collar from which horses' heads protrude," said Mitchell.

A third petroglyph in Baca County depicts a single armored horse and rider incised in rock, he said. The horse's feet and head are shown protruding from the armor. Two parallel lines adjacent to the rider's torso may represent human body armor, and the rider holds a short lance in his left hand.

Mitchell published a paper on the subject in the March issue of Antiquity.

Previous rock art discoveries as far north as Canada, which appear to date several decades later than those on the southern plains, indicate northern Plains Indians also used leather armor to protect the horse and rider. But cavalry tactics on the northern plains appear to have been less sophisticated than those in the south.

The fourth petroglyph identified by Mitchell, from central Kansas, "clearly depicts an armored horse," he said. The armor again is trapezoidal in shape and shows a horse head protruding from an armored collar.

The leather-armored Comanche likely used short bows, arrows and spears during battle. The best historical evidence for armored and mounted Plains Indians comes from a hide painting produced in a Jesuit mission in present-day New Mexico by an American Indian in about 1720, said Mitchell. The painting depicts a band of mounted warriors on leather-armored horses and holding spears, attacking a ground force of Apache Indians holding shields, spears and bows and arrows.

"This strategy of leather armor only lasted for about a century, from 1650 to 1750," said Mitchell. Referred to as the "Post-horse-Pre-gun" period, it collapsed as firearms became available to American Indians via trades with the French and English, which could penetrate the leather armor of mounted warriors.

Mitchell noted a previous study by University of Nebraska archaeologists indicated French traders may have visited and perhaps traded guns to the Comanche as early as 1748. The Comanche also may have been trading with the Wichita and Pawnee by 1751.

Many anthropologists now believe some Plains Indian tribes moved south specifically to obtain horses from the Spanish, he said. Some Comanche bands may have had a dozen horses per warrior, forcing them to camp near large lakes or rivers in order to keep the people and horses watered.

The period of mounted Indian warriors, including the century of some using armored hides, is a relatively brief but significant blip in the history of the Plains Indians, Mitchell said. "For the previous 1,000 years, these peoples were very sedentary, living in villages and farming, and were not mobile until the arrival of the horse."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Colorado At Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Colorado At Boulder. "Rock Art Depicting Commanches, Horses Clad In Leather Armor Discovered In Colorado." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040401081237.htm>.
University Of Colorado At Boulder. (2004, April 1). Rock Art Depicting Commanches, Horses Clad In Leather Armor Discovered In Colorado. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040401081237.htm
University Of Colorado At Boulder. "Rock Art Depicting Commanches, Horses Clad In Leather Armor Discovered In Colorado." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040401081237.htm (accessed March 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Richard III Saga Ends With Burial And An Eye Roll

Richard III Saga Ends With Burial And An Eye Roll

Newsy (Mar. 26, 2015) Richard III was finally laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral on Thursday, but not without some controversy over who should get credit for finding him. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Giant Triassic Salamander Acted More Like A Crocodile

Giant Triassic Salamander Acted More Like A Crocodile

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) An ancient crocodile-like salamander more than 10 times the average size of its modern-day counterparts has been discovered in Portugal. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Plague-Era Skeletons Bring History Back to Life in London

Plague-Era Skeletons Bring History Back to Life in London

AFP (Mar. 24, 2015) London office workers are coming face-to-face with the hidden history beneath their feet as 3,000 skeletons dating back to the 16th century are dug up to make way for a new railway line. Duration: 01:11 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Add Woolly Mammoth DNA To Elephant Cells

Scientists Add Woolly Mammoth DNA To Elephant Cells

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) A group of Harvard researchers have been working on this project for a while, but it&apos;s not without critics. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins