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Subjectivity in Stone Age art works such as figure stones, engravings, sculptures, effigies and curated manuports. See how images and icons have been realized in portable rock media since the dawn of humanity. Here, archaeologists and art historians are becoming aware of these forsaken artifacts. “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing." -in W. Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1599.

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    From India, human head with eye, two nostrils and mouth, Thath Chanuhacha collection, Bangkok, Thailand.

    The facial features appear to be worked but this would need be confirmed by a petrologist. The two nostrils in anatomically and artistically correct location suggest this piece was indeed humanly worked.

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    A sculpture from a recently located city of ruins in an isolated part of Honduras

    An artifact lays partly exposed amongst the ruins (Dave Yoder/National Geographic)
    "Mr Fisher said that the most striking discovery was the head of what appeared to be "a were-jaguar", possibly depicting a shaman in a transformed, spirit state. The artefacts are believed to date from 1000 to 1400AD."
    Interestingly, this sculpture is interpreted by the finders as a mixture of feline and human images. The sculpture depicts the face with a clearly represented right eye and the left eye as more of a blank space, or symbolic of a missing left eye.

    This, along with feline aspect lends support the idea that this art motif in Honduras is an example of persistence of the imagery and probably related mythology from the Lower Paleolithic to almost recent times 1000 to 600 years ago.

    I think the extreme isolation of the people in Honduras and their contention with big cats such as jaguars may explain why this motif is seen here to almost historical times.

    The ruins of an ancient civilisation that were neighbours to the Maya  Photo: Dave Yoder/National Geographic

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     Lion head figure, Jeff Smith find, San Saba County, Texas

    Illustration of the manufactured eye on this lion head in left profile and expansion of the natural vein feature to make the mouth

    Jeff noticed the translucent aspect of the stone and what appeared to be a worked area of selective stone removal to leave a back lighted image of a human crawling on all fours.

     The human image is interpreted as being depicted as "inside" the lion's head.

    Another lighting perspective on the crawling human

    Close up of the crawling human inside the lion's head

     Interpreted as a grazing bison in right profile by Jeff Smith

     Notes by Jeff Smith

    Jeff Smith mastodon facing right combined with human head profile facing left found along with bird figures was featured in an earlier posting on this blog and establishes an art context for this lion head figure.

    At left is a flint lion head figure from Buckeye Lake, Ohio, also with a manufactured eye, which was made on a similar template or scheme to Jeff Smith's Texas example.

    Jeff Smith's find here depicts a lion head with a human depicted inside, as if having been swallowed by the lion. This same depiction was noted at Flint Ridge, Ohio, in an earlier posting on this blog and helps validate Jeff's interpretation of the "crawling human" imagery in this piece.

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    Mother and child sculpture, Beegden, Netherlands, age >250,000 years BP
    Collection of rock art researcher Jan van Es of Roermond, Netherlands

    Jan van Es illustration of two eyes and a mouth composing the head of the baby being cradled

     Click photos to expand

    At right is another very similar mother and child sculpture discovered by Mr. van Es which was featured in an earlier posting on this blog.



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    Lion/man head worked pebble found by David Boies, Austin, Texas, was found in strong portable rock art context near Austin. 4 x 4cm

    Paleolithic art and early sculpture author Pietro Gaietto has made an excellent illustration of the interpreted human and feline features as they get "mixed" in the interpretation of the El Juyo, Spain, cave religious altar-sculpture. 

    Austin, Texas, figure interpreted as a mixed human and feline in a similar art visage as seen in El Juyo cave, Santander, Spain


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    "Left eye missing" Paleolithic portable rock art sculpture identified by David Boies at Austin, Texas

    This stone figure may appear natural-looking to many observers. It was selected as a raw cobble because of its suitable starting form to the artist. The mouth may have been created by a large area of stone removal. On close examination the nose has two nostril divots which is an element of other portable rock art seen on this blog. The "missing" right eye was created by a forceful directed blow to chip out what would be the eye's socket. A visually distorting line was made down the left side of the face. Though natural-looking at first appearance, given the portable rock art context Mr. Boies has identified this is a stereotypical form for a face mask like this. It has been my hypothesis that these masks depict the symbolic time of horror (death) when a lion takes a bite out of the human head.


    On side 2 of the right eye missing face mask David Boies identified an etched line figure of a standing human in left profile. A chip in the stone is exploited as the "head" of the human figure.

    The elements of the face mask combined with the human line figure make the case for this being a cultural artifact.

    (Left) Photograph © Walther Matthes. Matthes, W. (1969). Published in Eiszeitkunst im Nordseeraum. Otterndorf, Gr: Niederelbe-Verlag; (1964/1965). Bild 62. Mousterian context (Neanderthal) artifact from Germany at left as seen at Originsnet.org for motif comparison to Texas example identified by David Boies.


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    Adam Arkfeld find, Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK732 (click to expand)

    This limestone bar was shaped by squaring off and trimming its edges. It evidences 3 or 4 incised lines which are joined to demark the very top part of the stone in this orientation. Adam discovered the carved image of a bird and I discovered a feline head depiction under the bird- as if the bird was sitting on a "lion head egg." "Lion present at birth" is an art motif described earlier on this blog.

    Illustration of the demarcation line segments (blue), a bird figure (yellow) and a feline face (orange).

    Closer view of the bird sitting on the feline head (egg)

    Human shaped objects identified by Adam Arkfeld at the site

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    "Animated handaxe" identified by Ken Johnston in the collection of the Brighton Museums is attributed to Homo neanderthalensis

    This handaxe has been carefully worked to express the portrait of a person in left 3/4 profile. The person's head depiction includes a neck, chin, mouth line, nose, cheek, brow, a closed left eye and an artistically shaped head returning to the nape of the neck. Brighton Museums, Brighton, U.K.

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    "Left eye missing face mask on a cobble" David Boies collection, Austin, Texas

    The artist encountered a glassy inclusion in the stone while working this channel to make the right eye feature and left it there while excavating around it. It helps create an illusion of moisture in the stone eye.

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    Bird sculpture from Arkfeld Site, #44FK732, Clear Brook, Virginia.

    The artist exploited white band inclusions through the blue stone to create split tail feather imagery. The sculpture stands upright on a flat base.



    Germany bird sculpture, ca. 200,000 years before present

    Photograph © Walther Matthes. Matthes, W. (1969). Published in Eiszeitkunst im Nordseeraum. Otterndorf, Gr: Niederelbe-Verlag; (1964/1965). Bild 62. Mousterian context (Neanderthal) artifact from Germany as seen at Originsnet.org

    Gibraltar archaeologist and naturalist Clive Finlayson stated"Neanderthals were very intelligent, with a very large brain capacity. We have found remains of up to 150 different bird species which give clue to a special relationship with birdlife. If we consider that in Europe there are currently about 400 species of birds, this suggests that they hunted more than 25 percent of species."

    The article continues: "Artifacts have shown that not only did they eat birds, but they then went on to use bones as adornment. Raptor bones were found with carved notches, these bones were selected based on colour. The skills were not as elaborate as the American Indians, but the bones, feather and tendons found were clearly used for an aesthetic purpose."

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    Chris Schram collection, Westminster, Colorado

    Side 2 of the Colorado bird figure shares a similar morphology to the below figure from Germany. These may have been created using a related idealized artistic scheme or template rather than just coincidentally reflecting the natural bird form.

    Germany bird sculpture, ca. 200,000 years before present along with the Colorado example identified by Mr. Schram

    Photograph © Walther Matthes. Matthes, W. (1969). Published in Eiszeitkunst im Nordseeraum. Otterndorf, Gr: Niederelbe-Verlag; (1964/1965). Bild 62. Mousterian context (Neanderthal) artifact from Germany as seen at Originsnet.org

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    "Animal head,"Chris Schram find, Westminster, Colorado, in context of dozens of figurative portable rock art creations. The eye, nose and mouth have flake scars which indicate this is a sculpted artifact and not a freak of nature.

    Reconstructed illustration of what the North American Lion head may have looked like. The animal became extinct at the end of the Ice Age about 10,000 years ago. Please note the "squared off muzzle" which may also be seen in the Chris Schram animal head figure.

    Ceramic mammoth and lion head figures, Dolni Vestonice, Moravia, Czech Republic. Dated to ca. 25,000 years before present.

    Possible mammoth figure identified by Chris Schram along with the possible lion head. The precision and smoothness of the ceramic figures is contrasted against the rougher imagery resulting from work in petrified wood. The importance is these animals were significant enough to both Europeans and North Americans in the Ice Age that they committed the imagery to objects of art.

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    Human head stone sculpture recovered by Adam Arkfeld, Clear Brook, Virginia

    Arkfeld writes: "Interesting features; mouth is another example of fossil utilization. A worm tube has been utilized. Left eye slit is a natural fissure. Right eye slit has been etched into the stone by hand. Its angle matches the left."

    Typical Arkfeld site tools along with all the art objects indicate the site may be of great antiquity. However, the archaeology establishment has been unable to comprehend the significance of the finds being made there.

    A bias toward flaked tools as the primary indicator of human activity and an ignorance of the importance of crude and opportunistic tools and portable rock art in evaluating archaeology sites leads many to err in thinking objects like these are "just rocks."

    A Pleistocene archaeology and rock art scholar with most all of his experience in the "Old World" has called the Arkfeld site "The most remarkable pre-Clovis site in the United States." Hopefully this will not be lost on those who profess to be searching for evidence of the earliest Americans.

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    Found by Moray Mackintosh in the Swiss Alps and recognized to depict several faces

    Mr. Mackintosh sent the photos to the Paleolithic proto-sculpture and sculpture author Pietro Gaietto who is familiar with portable rock art of the Italian and Swiss Alps. Mr. Gaietto writes:
    Dear Mr. Mackintosh,
    I reply to letters of 12/2 and 02/27/2015.
    The photos you sent me are all interesting, some depicting the head of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and others are intermediate with Homo sapiens sapiens (intersections ), so it is likely to have an age between the 50,000 and 30,000 years. Certainly should be seen better, but I do not have time for unavoidable reasons.
    The place where you found it is good, they have a process clearly visible. Should see the proportion of height of the place and if there are caves in Switzerland with finds of cave bear skulls, collected by Neanderthals as hunting trophies or religious . .
    kind regards
    Pietro Gaietto 

    Ken Johnston illustrated interpretation of two human head profiles joined at the neck and looking away from each other Janus-like

    Homo neanderthalensis facial profile looking left with carved lines occupying the back part of the head

    Illustration of eye and mouth of stereotypical Neanderthal portable rock art profile including a recessive chin.

    Interpreted independently by Ken Johnston and Moray Mackintosh as a feline head representation

    Illustration of the faded but present feline head image

    The feline head is the top part of the anthropomorphic head depiction here. The flater facial features and solid chin indicate a Homo sapiens sapiens representation.

    Mr. Mackintosh interpreted this as a depiction of a human with a feline mask on the top of his head perhaps preparing to lower it.

    I interpret this as symbolic of the lion taking a bite out of the human head, a Paleolithic art motif seen in several examples on this blog.

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    Henri Valentie find, Île d'Oléron, France

    Mr. Valentie writes: "This left profile 3/4 flint I found on the new site on the island of Oleron with many unifacial tools. We can see eye open and the closed eye, nose and the mouth. 15 / 13 / 9.5cm"

    Ken Johnston interpretation of another possible animal head figure joined at the nape of the neck to the human and facing in the opposite direction, Janus-like. An eye, nostril and mouth with a tooth suggest this possible zoomorphic form is intended and related to the human face depiction.

    Right and left: "Another stone face the mother and child? I apologize but the picture is not great. Limestone 12 / 6.5 / 6 cm" At center is a mother with child figure identified by Jan van Es of the Netherlands for comparison. Click photos to expand.

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    Adam Arkfeld identified a bear-like figure on the back of the same sculpture combining a face mask with a mammoth head featured three postings ago.

    Arkfeld site bear figure with nose

    Arkfeld site bear figure featured already on this blog

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    Interpreted as a bear figure with its nose sniffing the air. Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, near Joplin, Missouri



    Side 2 looks like it could depict a running bear or a bird+bear combination appearing like a flying bear


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    Jeff Vincent find, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas

    Chert "right eye open, left eye missing" face including worked nostrils and mouth from a strong portable rock art context developed by Jeff at Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. Jeff Vincent collection contributing many images for presentation on this blog.

    Ken Johnston illustration of the interpreted one-eyed face and a secondary face image nested in the main face, where the nostrils become the eyes of the smaller face. Refer to the unmarked photo to see the two faces at the same time. Click photos to expand.

    The "face withing a face" concept may be considered a type of fractal art. It is expressed here by a 9 year old. It is seen in many examples of portable rock art.

    Jeff Vincent collection, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas

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    Sculpted head profile figure, Jeff Vincent collection, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas

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    "The Man of the Romandato" find by Paleolithic art author Pietro Gaietto 

    Gaietto writes: "Fig. 4.9) Lithic Sculpture. It represents the head of a hominid with great opened wide mouth.
    Size: Height cm. 23.5, width cm. 29, width cm. 18.5. The mouth is wide cm. 17 in the inside and cm. 7 in the tip of the jaw, and is deep cm. 11. Obtained from a large nodule of silex. Weight kg. 11.5.
    Place of originrigin: Torrent Romandato, Rodi Garganico, Foggia, Italy.
    Material culture: Acheulean or middle Clactonian, or perhaps more recent.
    The sculpture has been obtained from a nodule of silex, in which the cavity that constitutes the open mouth is part of the shape original of the nodule.
    The strong expression has been interpreted in the typology like " scream ". The stylistic deformation is based, exactly, on the scream.
    A study on this sculpture and others two similar, by Pietro Gaietto, (Fig. 4.7 and 4.10) entitled " The shout of Homo erectus " is published on " Paleolithic Art Magazine ",(2000).

    Collection Museum of the Origins of Man.

     "The man of Spinacchi" find by Pietro Gaietto


    Texas ranch owner becomes yet another United States site reporting PAC-MAN like stone figures in portable rock art contexts

    Last week I received a note from a Texas ranch owner which included the following. I added the emphasis in bold type.
    "There is a huge limestone rock approx 75 lb with a big centipede fossil stretching across the entire rock. Near that rock are massive metates weighing over 200 lb. I found a Metate/mortar weighing approx 30 lb that had a lot of wear and in the middle of the bowl are two perfectly drilled holes about 4 inches apart that go all the way thru the rock. I'm guessing it's for drainage which is interesting as I've never seen a Metate with holes. Near that Metate I found a large piece or nodular flint with the bottom being completely flat to where it can stand up perfectly. After examining the rock I noticed that it was one large owl statue with a lot of smaller owl faces that look almost subliminal. Every single rock I pick up in this area, no matter if it's limestone, flint or quartz, has some kind of art on it. Every single one. Mostly owls, buffaloes and weird faces.
    You're going to think this is weird but I have found a couple of these faces that look exactly like pac-man. It's the damnedest thing I've ever seen.
    I think this was a worship or ceremony site as it's unlike anything I've ever seen. I think it's possible they were worshiping that centipede fossil. Anyways, I just want to thank you because I thought I was losing my mind until I ran across your site. There's not much online that covers this subject except for you. Just wanted to say thanks and see if you might have any insight or if you've ever heard of anything like this?" -Texas ranch owner

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