Manhattans and Archaeology
Finding a relic-condition pistol in an archaeology site is exciting. One such
Manhattan was found in 1961 in a small cave in Utah.
 
                          A Manhattan Navy 5-Shot Revolver Associated with
                               Native American Human Remains from Utah
                                    
 By Ronald J. Rood (rrood@utah.gov)
                                  Utah Assistant State Archaeologist, Antiquities Section

     In 1961 human skeletal material was found in a small cave near the town of Fillmore, Utah.  The remains
were identified as those of a Native American male who died between the ages of 15.5 and 16.5 years.  This
assessment was made on dentition and long bone bone growth plate fusion.  No cause of death for this
individual could be determined but he did have healed fractures of the left radius and a possible healed fracture
of the first cervical vertebra.  Lesions on the ribs suggest this individual suffered from tuberculosis (Novak and
Kopp 2001).  Ethnic affiliation cannot be determined from the analyses completed to date, but based on
historical evidence, this young man was probably a Ute, Paiute, Goshute or Shoshone.  

     Associated with this young man was a pistol, a belt and a holster.  The pistol (See photo) has been identified
as a Manhattan Navy 5-shot revolver, Series III in .36 caliber.  






















There are several modifications to the pistol.  First, the barrel has been welded to the top of the cylinder and
another weld is present on the bottom of the pistol just below the barrel lug cutout.  These welds were likely
made to hold the firearm together after it was found.  Someone had also attempted to file the rust from the top
of the barrel likely in an attempt to read the barrel stamp.    

      Associated with the pistol is a leather holster  which appears to be of the type specifically made for the
Manhattan Navy Revolver.    The holster is leather and was originally a flap holster.  The flap had been removed
and a design had been applied on the side of the holster with stitching.  The design consists of two parts; a
small rectangle with a triangle center and a second rectangle with a diagonal line through the center.  There is
some stitching left in part of the lower design.

There is really no way to know how this pistol made its way to Utah or how the young Native American obtained
it.  He could have traded for the gun or perhaps acquired it during conflicts between Native Americans and early
settlers of Utah Territory.  

      These human remains, and the associated artifacts are now subject to Utah’s Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act.  Once scientific study has been completed on the human remains and the
associated artifacts, modern tribes will have opportunities to claim the remains for reburial.   

Reference:  Novak, Shannon A. and Derinna V. Kopp, 2001, Report on Human Remains OME Case R2001-01-
1075.  On file,  Antiquities Section, Salt Lake City, Utah.