More than twenty years of knackzoat accumulation, amounting to over three hundred kilos, has been excavated from the car floor of local couple Barney and Ethel Kehler of Warman. The Kehlers have been knacking zoat onto the car floor for decades, a curious cultural behaviour that drew the interest of the scientific community.
“We wanted to examine this ritualistic spitting of sunflower seeds,” said Dr. Anne Elison, “to uncover the sacred significance that it has in Mennonite cultural and religious practice.”
Dozens of interns and undergraduates have been painstakingly combing the floor of the Kehler’s 1991 Ford Tempo, and in doing so have discovered five ‘new car smell’ air fresheners, dozens of McDonalds receipts, two unopened cans of Klik, a hardcover Rudy Wiebe novel, and a program from a Barry Moore crusade.
“The chemical combination of salted sunflower seeds and human saliva create a faster than normal fossilization process,” says Elison. “When we go down layer by layer, we can really get a picture of the last few decades of Mennonite history. It provides amazing insight into this idiosyncratic and often misunderstood people group.”
Elison plans to publish her findings in a three volume work entitled, “Coming of Age in Saskatchewan: Mennonite Totems and Taboos as Recorded in Knackzoat.” The multi-disciplinary book is already drawing significant interest from Anthropology, Archaeology and Cultural Studies departments at major universities. Elison hopes to become the first Nobel laureate to win a prize for sifting through petrified sunflower seeds.
(Photo credit: by Mount Rainier NPS/CC)