Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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In 1950, three brothers exploring Utah's Range Creek Canyon discovered a collection of 11 clay figurines made more than 1,000 years ago by the local Fremont culture. For several decades the collection, named the "Pilling Collection" after the brothers, were displayed at locations across the state, including the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, and in banks, courthouses, and even a hotel, becoming a much beloved state symbol. But some time between 1973 and 1974, one of the figurines disappeared and the mystery of what happened to it has lasted for almost four decades. Last November, Utah State University anthropologist Bonnie Pitblado received a small box with an anonymous note and a ceramic figurine inside. By combining old-fashioned research looking at vintage photos with the latest scientific techniques, Pitblado and a team of experts now agree that they have, at last, found the missing figurine. ("Investigating a Decades-Old Disappearance," July/August 2012).

The missing figurine shows a man wearing a leather skirt, and beaded belt, necklace, and earrings.