THE NEWARK SHAMAN
The Shaman of Newark is a fist-sized stone figurine of a man in a bearskin. He’s holding a human head in his lap, and may be
preparing it for burning or burial, or using it for divination. Archaeologist Brad Lepper:
He’s dressed as a bear, a bear’s head on his head, bear claws on his hands, he’s wearing ear spools, and in his lap he’s holding what appears to be a decapitated human head wearing the same style of ear spools. One of the most fascinating things about this is the depiction of a shaman apparently in the very act of transforming into an animal spirit: the hand on the head appears to be either in the act of lowering the mask on his face or perhaps raising it above his face. In fact if… you’re talking about the shaman’s transformation, and simply tilt it, the shaman transforms before your very eyes!
The bear has traditionally meant many things to native people, including awakening after a long hibernation. Sending someone to their burial with such a symbol of rebirth would link them to the renewing circle of life. Today, the Newark Shaman is on display at the Ohio History Center (see the Granville/Columbus Route).