Horned Hunter — Shaman, Ancestor, and Deity


  • Natalia Mikhailova
  • Alan Garfinkel


ethnoarchaeology, prehistoric religion, rituals, shamans, cult of the deer, cult of the bighorn sheep


There are numerous depictions of antlered figures in the rock art of prehistoric Eurasia and many representations of horned humans in the Far West of North America. These antlered and horned individuals have in some cases been interpreted as wearing animal headdresses. Headdresses with deer antlers are recognized archaeologically in Mesolithic Europe. A prehistoric bighorn sheep headdress has been discovered and dated from Utah in the United States. Also there is historic ethnographic evidence of deer and bighorn sheep headdresses/disguises for Siberia, northern Europe and North America. We propose to compare these data and review similarities and differences in these cultural traditions. We highlight comparative data regarding their age, and associated animal ceremonialism in indigenous religious expression.

Author Biographies

Natalia Mikhailova

Nataliia Mykhailova is PhD, Senior scientific researcher of the Stone Age Archaeology Department Institute of archaeology of National Ukrainian Academia of Sciences.

Alan Garfinkel

Dr. Alan Garfinkel is a California and Great Basin anthropologist/archaeologist. Director and founder of the California Rock Art Foundation. He received his Bachelor’s at CSU, Northridge, and his MA and Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis.  Dr. Garfinkel is principally known for his work with the indigenous people of the West and for his studies of Native American rock art in California and the Great Basin.  He is also recognized for his pioneering studies in the regional prehistory of eastern California, the far Southern Sierra Nevada, and southwestern Great Basin.


Alexeenko E.A. 1967. Kety. Moskva: “Nauka”.

Annell B. 1969. Running Down and Driving Game in North America, Studia Ethnographica Upsaliensia, 30.

Avdeev A.D. 1959. Proishozhdenie teatra. Moskva.

Bayburin A.K. 1990. Ritual: svoe i chuzhoe. In: Folklor i etnografiya. Problemyi rekonstruktsii faktov traditsion-noy kulturyi. Moskva.

Birket-Smith K. 1929. The Caribou Eskimos. Copenhagen.

Brayant A.T. 1953. Zulusckiy narod do prihoda evropeytsev. Moskva.

Clark J.G.D. 1954. Excavations at Star Carr. Cambridge.

Conneller C., Schadla–Hall Т. 2003. Beyond Star Carr: The Vale of Pickering in the 10th millennium BP. Pro-ceedings of the Prehistoric Societies 69:85–105.

Coulam N.J., Schroedl A.R. 2004. Late Archaic totemism in the greater American Southwest. American Antiqui-ty 69(1): 41–62.

Dams L. 1981. La Roche peinte d'Álgodonales (Cadiz). Altamira symposium. Madrid–Asturias–Santander 475–494

Datta A. 2002. Shamanism and the Indian rock paintings. Bollettino del Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici 32:77–84.

Devlet E. 2001. Rock art and the material culture of Siberian and Central Asian shamanism. In N. Price (ed.), The archaeology of shamanism, pp. 43–60. Routledge, London.

Eliade M. 1972. Shamanism: archaic techniques of ecstasy. Princeton University Press.

Elinek Ya. 1982. Bolshoy illyustrirovannyiy atlas pervobyitnogo cheloveka. Praga.

Garfinkel A.P. 2006. Paradigm shifts, rock art theory, and the Coso sheep cult of eastern California. North American Archaeologist 27: 203–244.

Garfinkel A.P., Austin D. 2011. Reproductive Symbolism in Great Basin Rock Art: Bighorn Sheep Hunting, Fer-tility, and Forager Ideology. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21(3):453-471.

Garfinkel A.P., Austin D., Schroth A., Goldsmith P., Siva E.H. 2016. Ritual, Ceremony, and Symbolism of Ar-chaic Bighorn Hunters of the Eastern Mojave Desert: Newberry Cave, California. Rock Art Research 33(7):193-209.

Garfinkel A.P., Riley T., Barlow R., King Ch., Rogers A., Yohe II R., Goldsmith P., Molinar M., Gerstner R. 2019. The Green River Bighorn Sheep, Horned Headdress, San Rafael Swell, Utah. Rock Art Research, in press.

Geist V., Petocz R.G. 1977. Bighorn Sheep in Winter: Do Rams Maximize Reproductive Fitness by Spatial and Habitat Segregation from Ewes? Canadian Journal of Zoology 55:1802–1810.

Goss J.A. 1972. A Basin-Plateau Shoshonean Ecological Model. Desert Research Institute Publications in Social Sciences 8:123–128. University of Nevada Press, Reno.

Grant C., Baird J.W., Pringle J.K. 1968. Rock drawings of the Coso Range, Inyo County, California: an ancient sheep-hunting cult pictured in desert rock carvings. Maturango Museum Publication 4, China Lake, Cali-fornia.

Gronnow B. 1985. Meiendorf and Stelmoor revisited: an analysis of late palaeolithic reindeer exploitation. Acta Archaeologica 131–166.

Gramsch B. 1982. Deutsche Geschichte. Berlin, B.1.

Hedges K. 2001. Traversing the Great Gray Middle Ground: An Examination of Shamanistic Interpretation of Rock Art. In American Indian Rock Art 27, edited by Steven M. Freers and Alanah Woody, pp. 123–136. American Rock Art Research Association, Tucson.

Heizer R.F., Hester T.R. 1974. Two Petroglyph Sites in Lincoln County, Nevada, University of California Ar-chaeological Research Facility Contributions 20, pp. 1-52.

Hultkrantz Å. 1981. Belief and Worship in Native America, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, New York.

Husted W.M., Edgar R. 2002. The Archaeology of Mummy Cave, Wyoming: An Introduction to Shoshonean Prehistory. National Park Service, Midwest Archeological Center Special Report No. 4 and Southeast Ar-chaeological Center Technical Reports Series No. 9.

Ivanov S.V. 1954. Materialyi po izobrazitelnomu iskusstvu narodov Sibiri HIH – nachala HH v. Syuzhetnyiy risunok i drugie vidyi izobrazheniy na ploskosti. Moskva–Leningrad: Izdatelstvo AN SSSR, Trudy Insti-tuta Etnografii, Novaya seriya – T. XXII.

Jacobson E. 1993. The Deer Goddess of ancient Siberia: a study in the ecology of belief. Studies in the History of Religions, Volume LV. E. J. Brill, Leiden.

Keilling H. 1985. Steinzeitlicher Jager und Saammler in Mecklenburg. – Schwerin. In: Museum fur Uhr − und Fruhgeschichte Schwerin.

Kelly I.T. 1936. Chemehuevi Shamanism. In Essays in Anthropology Presented to A. L. Kroeber in Celebration of his Sixtieth Birthday, edited by Robert Lowie, pp. 129–142. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Kelly I.T. 1976. Southern Paiute ethnography. In Paiute Indians II. Garland Publishing, New York.

Kelly I.T., Fowler C.S. 1986. Southern Paiute. In W. L. D’Azevedo (ed.), Handbook of North American Indians Volume 11: Great Basin, pp. 368–397. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

Kroeber A. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology. Bulletin 78. Washington, D.C.

Laird C. 1974. Chemehuevi Religious Beliefs and Practices. Journal of California Anthropology 1:19–25.

Laird C. 1976. The Chemehuevis. Malki Museum, Banning.

Laird C. 1984. Mirror and Pattern: George Laird’s World of Chemehuevi Mythology. Malki Museum, Banning.

Levi-Bryul L. 1936. Pervobyitnoe myishlenie. Moskva.

Levi-Stros K. 2000. Pervisne mislennya. K.

Lowie R.H. 1924a. Shoshonean Tales. Journal of American Folklore 37:1–242.

Lowie R.H. 1924b. Primitive Religion. Bonni and Liveright, New York.

Lytle F.W., Lytle M.,. Rogers A.K, Garfinkel A.P., Maddock C., Wight W., Cole C. 2008. An Experimental Tech-nique for Measuring Age of Petroglyph Production: Results on Coso Petroglyphs. Paper presented at the 31st Great Basin Anthropological Conference, Portland, Oregon.

McGranaghan M., Challis S. 2016. Reconfiguring hunting magic: Southern Bushman (San) perspectives on taming and their implications for understanding rock art. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 26(4):579–599.

McGuire K.R., Hatoff B.W. 1991. A Prehistoric Bighorn Sheep Drive Complex, Clan Alpine Mountains, Central Nevada, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 13(1):95-109.

Matheny R.T., Smith T.S., Matheny D.G. 1997. Animal ethology reflected in the rock art of Nine Mile Canyon, Utah. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 19(1):70–103.

Mikhailova N. 2006. The Cult of the Deer and “Shamans” in the Deer Hunting Society. Archaeologia Baltica 7:186−199

Myers, Daniel L. 1997. Animal Symbolism among the Numa: Symbolic Analysis of Numic Origin Myths. Jour-nal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 19:32–97.

Mykhailova N. 2015. Deer offerings in the archaeology and art of Prehistoric Eurasia. Expression 10: 53−59.

Mykhailova N. 2017. Cult olenya u starodavnykh myslyvtsiv na olenya Evropy ta Pivnichnoi Asii (Cult of the Deer of ancient Hunters in Europe and northern Asia). Kyiv.

Nissen K.M. 1995. Prey for Signs? Petroglyph Research in Western Great Basin of North America. In Rock Art Studies in the Americas: Papers from the Darwin Rock Art Congress edited by Jack Steinberg, pp. 67–76. Oxbow Monograph 45, Oxbow Books, Great Britain.

Okladnikov A.P. 1950. Neolit i bronzovyiy vek Pribaykalya.

Okladnikov A.P. 1966. Petroglify Angary. Moskva-Leningrad.

Ortiz A. (ed.) 1979. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 9. Southwest. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Petruhin V.Ya. 1986. Chelovek i zhivotnoe v mife i rituale: mir prirodyi v simvolah mira kulturyi In: Mify, kulty i obryady narodov Zarubezhnoy Azii. –Moskva.

Pratsch S. 2004. Die Geweihfunde der neolithischen Siedlung von Eilsleben, Bördekreis. In Jahresschrift für mitteldeutsche Vorgeschichte, Halle (Saale), Band 88:167–136.

Prokofeva E.D. 1961. Predstavleniya selkupskih shamanov o mire (po risunkam i akvarelyam selkupov). Sbornik muzeia Archeologii i Etnografii, XX. Moskva–Leningrad: 54–74.

Reichard G.A. 1950. Navajo religion – A study of symbolism. Bollingen Series XVIII. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Rogers A.K. 2010. A Chronology of Six Rock Art Motifs in the Coso Range, Eastern California. American Indi-an Rock Art 36:23-36.

Ross A. 1996. Pagan Celtic Britain Studies in Iconography and Tradition. Academy Chicago Publishers, Chica-go.

Sapir E. 2002. Edward Sapir: The Psychology of Culture, A Course of Lectures (2nd edition). Reconstructed and edited by Judith T. Irvine. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.

Sarvas P. 1969. Die felsmalerei von Astuvansaalmi. Suomen Museo. № 76 : 5–34

Steward J. 1941. Cultural element distributions: XVIII, Nevada Shoshone. University of California Anthropo-logical Records.

Steward J. 1943. Culture element distributions: XXIII, Northern and Gosiute Shoshoni. University of California Anthropological Records 8(3): 263–392.

Stewart O.C. 1941 Culture Element Distributions XIV: Northern Paiute. University of California Anthropological Records 4:361–446.

Stewart O.C. 1942 Cultural Element Distributions: XVIII, Ute-Southern Paiute. University of California Anthropo-logical Records 6(4).

Street M. 1989. Jager und Schamanen. Bedburg-Konigshoven ein wohnplatz am Niederrhein vor 10000 Jahren. Mainz.

Tromnau G. 1991. Archaologische Funde und Befunde zum Schamanismus. Schamanen. Mittler zwischen Menschen und Geistern. Duisburg:22−40.

Vander J. 1997. Shoshone Ghost Dance Religion: Poetry Songs and Great Basin Context. University of Illinois Press, Chicago.

Viveiros de Castro E. 1998. Cosmological deixis and Amerindian perspectivism. Journal of the Royal Anthropo-logical Institute 4: 469–488.

Yohe II R., Garfinkel A.P. 2012. Great Basin bighorn ceremonialism: reflections on a possible sheep shrine at the Rose Spring Site (CA-INY-372), Rose Valley, Alta California. Journal of California Archaeology 4(2): 201–224.

Yanevich A.A. 1990. Hozyaystvo mezoliticheskogo i neoliticheskogo naseleniya gornogo Kryma. In: Kamennyiy vek na territorii Ukrainyi. Kiev.

Zaliznyak L.L. 1990. Rekonstruktsiya pervisnih suspilstv za yih gospodarsko-kulturnim tipom. In: Arheologiya. - N 4 : 3-11.

Zaliznyak L.L. 1991. Naselenie Polesya v mezolite. Kiev.


How to Cite

Mikhailova, N., & Garfinkel, A. (2018). Horned Hunter — Shaman, Ancestor, and Deity. Origin of Language and Culture: Ancient History of Mankind, 5(1), 5–26. Retrieved from https://publishing.socionic.info/index.php/language/article/view/2516