A Paleo Bird Effigy is a stone artifact directly
associated with ancient tree and platform burials,
mankinds oldest and most widespread way of dealing
with a body after death.
A mysterious ritual practice of making and using a
stone "Bird Effigy" at funerals and cemeteries
appeared here in Michigan over 13,000 years ago by
people moving North after the last Ice Age.
The original 'Paleo' styles and patterns of the stone
bird effigy continued in use, unchanged, through the
long Archaic and later Woodland Periods. The most
obvious ones have been found around skeletons in
many excavated burial mounds.
Considered "curious" or barely ever mentioned, these
simple natural rocks and stones fall under the huge
category of artifacts called "PROBLEMATICALS" - a
category clearly recognized and accepted over 100
Exactly why they were made, and the true purpose
they served remains a mystery to this day. That's
the problem with Problematicals!
During the Paleo period-14,000 to 10,000 years ago- a
mobile culture of Big Game Hunters stretched from Western
Europe through Russia, Central and Eastern Asia, and all
across North and South America.
The North American Paleopresence consists mostly of
occasional thin scatters of broken stone, typical evidence of
intermittant hunting camps or Big Game kill sites. Deep
stratified sites are rare.
In the dry American West, ancient trails, trail shrines,
mysterious rock alignments, stone piles and circles of
stone are associated with the earliest Paleo period.
Thousands of years of forest and vegetation growth has
obscured that kind of evidence in Eastern North America.
We knowthere were low population densities, lots of room to
roam and an incredible amount of wild food almost
Yet we know little about the people of the Paleo because
stone is usually all that remains and few human bones have
ever been found.
Back then, almost everyone who died was wrapped in skins,
along with their personal possesions, tied up in a tree, or
placed high up on a scaffold out of reach of scavenging
Usually the highest ground was used for this funeral practice
known as 'Aerial Sepulture'.
Though commonly called 'Platform Burial', it is with out
a doubt mankinds oldest and most widespread way of dealing
with a body after death.
Here in West Michigan, the SDM site is just one among
many around the world where there were concentrations of
'Platform Burials' by the people of the Paleo period.
What remainsare simple, abstract stone 'Bird Effigies', in
all sizes, and the tools they used to make them with.
This 'Bird' at a funeral/cemetary idea appears fully developed
here over 13,000 years ago and was practiced right up to
The presence of fine retouched bi-faces, polished stone
implements and bits of pottery, for example, found on the later
Archaic (10,000 to 3,000 years ago) and Woodland (3,000
to historic) funeral sites, over shadows the rough stone 'Bird
Effigies' and usually go unnoticed by relic collectors.