Yup, more. We’ve got heaps and stacks of these lit­tle guys around here.

It appar­ently is true that horned lizards (“horny toads”) will shoot blood out of the sinuses next to their eyes if they feel appro­pri­ately threat­ened, but I gather that it’s usu­ally canines that scare them to that extent. It’s dif­fi­cult, it seems, for a human to make them do it.

Hey, check this out. It’s another Mimbres design.

I’m not entirely cer­tain what it is, but it looks like a flower — a sun­flower? So it seems I was a lit­tle off yes­ter­day when I said the Mimbres didn’t depict plants. Flowers, at least, seemed to get their attention.

Beyond that, though, con­sider the aston­ish­ing tech­ni­cal qual­ity here. This pat­tern was painted on the inside of a bowl — a con­cave curved sur­face — and is so pre­cisely exe­cuted that none of the “petals” is any wider or thin­ner than any other one.

There must have been some kind of mechan­i­cal help here. Some method of mea­sur­ing, and an under­stand­ing of how to frac­tion­ate a cir­cle to any desired spec­i­fi­ca­tion. And as for the straight­ness of the lines — inside a bowl — this is sim­ply an impres­sive work.

Here’s one that I’ve been think­ing about more and more lately.

It sure looks like a star to me, and it’s rea­son­able to pre­sume that it is.

Working from that assump­tion, I fig­ured it was prob­a­bly meant to depict Sirius, the bright­est night­time star in the north­ern hemi­sphere … but then I got to think­ing about something.

The Mimbres were doing their thing from about 1000 to 1150 CE. There was a sig­nif­i­cant astro­nom­i­cal event that was recorded by Chinese and Muslim astronomers in 1054. It was the super­nova that became the Crab Nebula.

1054 is right in the but­ter zone for Mimbres art. And the super­nova would have been vis­i­ble, day and night, for nearly two years to any­one in the north­ern hemi­sphere. Only the moon would have out­shone it by night, and it would have been sig­nif­i­cantly brighter than all other stars.*

If the shape on that bowl is a star, it might be Sirius — or it could be the 1054 super­nova, pos­si­bly even painted by an eye­wit­ness to the event. Recorded and passed along to us from the depths of a millennium.

When I think about that it makes me shiver just a lit­tle. How about you?


* Except, of course, for the one we’re orbiting.


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