The Spider and the Web: What Is This?

In 1882, a young anthropologist from Washington, D.C., went west to collect objects for the Smithsonian. He found this object buried in a small hill in St. Clair county, Illinois. It’s about three inches (8 cm) across, and seems to be made of a shell. It has two holes in it.

Confused about what this was, the anthropologist brought the object back and presented it colleagues. I would like to reproduce that activity digitally by presenting the object online, to see what readers of this blog and my followers on Twitter can make of it, individually and by talking to each other. Although you can post some conjectures in the comments on the blog, if you’re reading this at 3p Eastern/Noon Pacific/20:00 GMT on Thursday, April 16, 2009, please post ideas via Twitter by @ replying to me or by using the hashtag #digdil09. You only have one hour.

I’ll be posting the full results of this experiment in this space in a day or two.

So: What is this?

http://www.dancohen.org/images/what_is_this.jpg

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