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Plate 16
Skull pierced through the orbit by an arrow

Fig. 1.—This is the anterior or facial portion of an Indian skull found near Buena Vista lake at the head of the San Joaquin valley, and now No. 12-1731 in the University Museum of Anthropology. It shows certain anomalies of the teeth in that there is a persistent decidual bicuspid in the left superior maxillary bone. The two right upper incisors are missing. The right superior maxilla is fractured and the wall of the antrum depressed inward. The nasal bones are fractured and almost entirely missing. There is a transverse fracture crossing the left superior maxilla cutting the infra­orbital foramen.

Running backward and downward, there is a portion of an arrow shaft about 5 inches in length which pierces the inferior orbital plate, crosses the nasal cavity traversing a portion of the ethnoid, vomer, and sphenoid bones, and terminating at a point one inch above the base of the styloid process. This piece of arrow is the major portion of the foreshaft and the spliced joint of the shaft, which is broken off short. The foreshaft is made of some hard wood such as hazel or wild lilac or redbud, while the shaft appar­ently is of reed. The union between them is formed by a spindle insertion with resin and shows marks of sinew wrapping. The anterior end of the arrow has been burnt off, but the taper indicates that the arrow probably had a stone head attached within an inch of the charred extremity. The apertures through the various plates of bone traversed rather suggest that a small sharp arrowhead passed through. The course of this head passes directly over the foramen spinosum, foramen ovale, and the foramen lacerum medium. It seems therefore that it made its exit posterior to the angle of the jaw about two inches below the mastoid process, on the left. In doing this it must have cut the internal carotid artery and the internal jugular vein. Death must have resulted from hemorrhage within a few minutes.

It may be assumed from the fractured, burned, and punctured condition of this portion of the skull that the individual was a middle-aged Indian who was shot in the eye with an arrow; that he was also struck in the face with a club, thus sustaining a bilateral fracture of the superior maxillae, or that he fell forward and sustained these fractures upon hitting the ground. There are several fractures in the base of the skull which suggest that he may have been beaten on the head and no effort was made to succor him.

The entire absence of calvarium and the burned conditions of the lateral surfaces of the skull, combined with a total immunity from charring both of the face and the part of the bone covered by muscular attachments as well as the preserved arrow shaft, rather suggest that the body lay upon its anterior surface during the burning process and that it was in a state of tissue preservation: burned soon after death.

There has been no attempt to remove the arrow, though the end near the joint is broken, not burned, as if this were done by the victim himself, or by a blow in the face, or in falling. The burning seems hardly such as would be done at ceremonial cremation, more as though the body lay face downward while the hut or the surrounding tules were set on fire.

The arrow must have been discharged at short range, hitting the victim either while he lay on the ground or came forward with his head down in a shielded position.

Fig. 2.—Reconstruction of course of arrow.