In 1917, Captain Theodore De Booy made an incredible discovery in the US Virgin Islands.
Discovery of Rare Swallow Stick
While excavating at a site at Magens Bay on St. Thomas, he uncovered a rare Swallow Stick.
It was thought to be used by West Indian priests in worship ceremonies.
The find was estimated to be about 500 to 800 years old!
The carved stick was made out of the rib of a sea cow.
Three inlays of mother-of-pearl form the teeth and the eyes were shells set into hollows.
History of the Swallow Stick
According to the museum records, the Swallow Stick was discovered at a depth of 5 feet.
The specimen was 8 1/4 inches long and dated to AD 1200-1500.
A few similar examples have been found in Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico.
The ceremonial object was made by the Chican-Ostionoid culture or Taino Indians.
They were an early South American tribe that migrated to the Caribbean about 1500 years ago.
Taino Indian Beliefs
The Taino people believed that in order to be worthy to hold communion with the deities, their priests must be thoroughly cleansed of all impurities.
To make sure, a swallow stick was placed into the throat to promote vomiting.
This procedure purified the priests, and in turn, satisfied the audience that they were purged of their iniquities.
For those wishing to see the object, it is currently being displayed at the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center, Battery Park, New York.