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 December 19, 2014 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 December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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