This rattle, in the form of a two-headed animal, comes from central Costa Rica. Like the vessel from Day 61, which is from the same collection, it dates to the La Selva period (AD 400–800), a time associated with the rise of social complexity. Emerging elites and religious practitioners are associated with elaborate iconography, including anthropomorphic birds and other mythical animals. Pellets enclosed within this hollow figurine rattle when it’s shaken. The rattle is part of a small collection donated to the Museum in 1965 by W.W. Chase, University of Michigan professor of wildlife management. Other musical objects in the Chase Collection include ceramic whistles and three-legged vessels with fired clay pellets in their hollow legs. Sound—furnished by instruments made of various raw materials—is an important part of ritual performance, though rarely accessible to archaeology.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.