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Articles on this Page
- 01/19/16--05:06: _A quartzite skull m...
- 01/23/16--09:10: _A mammoth sculpture...
- 01/30/16--09:45: _Mammoth body and fe...
- 02/05/16--10:09: _Carvings mixed with...
- 02/09/16--07:16: _Hardin County site ...
- 02/11/16--21:00: _'Kissy Birds' (repr...
- 02/18/16--14:13: _Rock formation appe...
- 02/21/16--05:33: _Standing two-legged...
- 02/23/16--05:52: _A horse head sculpt...
- 03/01/16--04:41: _New technologies ex...
- 03/05/16--06:47: _11,000 year old eng...
- 03/10/16--05:14: _England Lower Paleo...
- 03/10/16--07:22: _Lion head sculpture...
- 03/13/16--08:15: _Bird figures from t...
- 03/14/16--08:28: _Missouri amateur ar...
- 03/22/16--05:31: _Three left facial p...
- 03/26/16--07:45: _Possible 'beak as b...
- 03/28/16--07:02: _Check your Acheulea...
- 03/30/16--08:48: _American Archaeolog...
- 04/08/16--06:22: _Stone head and pend...
- 01/23/16--09:10: A mammoth sculpture emerges from the snow at Site #44FK732
- 02/05/16--10:09: Carvings mixed with natural cracks on Arkfeld Site limestone plaque
- 02/11/16--21:00: 'Kissy Birds' (reprise)
- 02/18/16--14:13: Rock formation appears worked to enhance inclusion's bird likeness
- 03/10/16--05:14: England Lower Paleolithic cobble tool with a human head likeness
- 03/10/16--07:22: Lion head sculpture from Site #23JP1222
- 03/13/16--08:15: Bird figures from the Zoo
- 03/22/16--05:31: Three left facial profiles from The Arkfeld Site, #44FK732
Adam Arkfeld find, Paleolithic Arkfeld archaeology Site, Clear Brook, Virginia. Quartzite is an imported stone material to the Arkfeld Site. The conspicuous difference between the shapes of the two eyes leads me to conclude this is an example of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic 'one eye open, one eye missing or closed' motif seen in the Old World and in the United States.
motif has been seen in other examples. Click photos to expand and toggle between the illustrated and non-illustrated versions.
|Mammoth body and feline head profile combination standing sculpture from Flint Ridge, Ohio (11cm)|
The cat's 'nose' is a translucent crystal formation. Other feline heads have been described on this blog from Flint Ridge and this one follows the general scheme or template I have identified.
I think this horse head sculpture is also presenting a feline, where the cat is curled across the back of the horse head like the mane of the horse, the cat and horse share ears and the 'eye' of the horse is the 'mouth' of the cat.
"The presence of incised stones found by collectors at Gault alerted archaeologists to the potential for finding early art in systematic excavations."Abstract:
Engraved and carved bone and stone artifacts capture our imaginations and are known worldwide from archaeological contexts, but they are seemingly rare and oftentimes difficult to recognize. While preservation issues play a role in the limited recovery of early art objects, research on incised stones and bone from the Gault site in Texas demonstrates that an expectation to find such artifacts plays a key role in their identification and recovery. The presence of incised stones found by collectors at Gault alerted archaeologists to the potential for finding early art in systematic excavations. To date, 11 incised stones and one engraved bone of Paleoindian age (13,000–9,000 calibrated years before present) have been recovered and of these, the Clovis artifacts are among the earliest portable art objects from secure context in North America. The presence of incised stone and bone at Gault led to the development of an examination protocol for identifying and analyzing engraved and incised artifacts that can be applied to a wide variety of archaeological contexts.
News article By Matthew MacEgan
"Art objects created by North American peoples of the Paleoindian period (approximately 18,000 to 8,000 BCE), have been found at the Gault Archaeological Site, which is located about 50 miles north of Austin, Texas. The new methods used by archaeologists to identify the objects, employing sophisticated computerized scanning and analysis, suggest that such objects may actually be more common in North America than previously believed.
Archaeologists Ashley Lemke (University of Michigan), Clark Wernecke, and Michael B. Collins (both from Texas State University) note that early art in North America dating back to the Paleoindian period, which is when most archaeologists currently agree humans first arrived in the New World, has been considered rare when compared to similar findings in the Old World. This may not, in fact, be the case.
Their findings, based on analysis of incised artifacts from the Gault site, were published last year in an article in American Antiquity, the flagship journal of the Society for American Archaeology.
They attribute this erroneous assumption to problems of recognition and underreporting. In particular, they write, “an expectation to find such artifacts plays a principal role in their identification.” The building of an appropriate analysis protocol that allows excavators to identify engraved artifacts during excavations resulted in one project identifying “more than 100 stones with incised lines as well as engraved bone.”
The Gault site has been occupied by humans consistently throughout the last 14,000 years and sits on land that has been privately owned since the 19th century. After initial investigations were performed by archaeologists in the early 20th century, the land was sold to landowners who established a “pay-to-dig” venue, where collectors could pay a small fee to dig anywhere on the property and keep everything they found.
The first recognition of early art at the site came in 1990 when a collector recovered four small, incised limestone tablets that were associated with Clovis artifacts, a specific designation given to stone tools originally identified at sites near Clovis, New Mexico, that date back approximately 11,000 years. The collector brought them to archaeologists at the University of Texas in Austin, who subsequently conducted test excavations in the area where the artifacts were discovered. They uncovered more incised stones and flakes (the debris of stone tool production), and after publishing their results were contacted by other collectors who had found similar objects but had not recognized them as being incised.
The art artifacts discussed in the 2015 paper consist only of those recovered from systematic excavations—“nine incised stones and one engraved bone from Paleoindian-aged contexts.” However, the authors report that a special protocol has been created and distributed to any excavator working at the site that instructs them on how to fully inspect each artifact for potential engraving. They write that while “some incised patterns are obvious when the artifact is excavated others are more difficult to discern and are sent to the laboratory for microscopic inspection.”
In the laboratory, the artifacts are photographed using Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), which helps in the detection of incised patterns that can be difficult to detect even microscopically. PTM captures digital images of the artifacts using multiple lighting angles in order to obtain a more “representative” image. Up to 64 different high-resolution digital images are captured under a dome that has strobing lights positioned in an upward spiral. The data is then collected in what are called “texels” (texture pixels), which can then be manipulated to draw out the different lighting conditions. Researchers can then enhance and examine a multitude of patterns on the stone artifacts.
The engraved artifacts found at Gault help us to better understand the artistic expression of humans living in the Paleoindian period. The authors of the 2015 paper report that the “Gault stones and bone display geometric, intentional, and patterned engraving behavior that may be decorative, ownership marks, or other symbols, which we have classified here as art.”
They write that there are likely other specimens from other sites that have fallen into “miscellaneous” categories that also feature similar incised patterns: “There are many other examples of art dating to the Paleoindian period in North America, including petroglyphs of extinct Pleistocene fauna, one case of painted bones, and other engraved bones, ivory, and lithics [stones].”
They provide a table listing artifacts that feature early art in North and Central America, including objects found in sites in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming, British Columbia and Tequixquiac in Mexico. All of them have been dated by various archaeologists to between approximately 8,000 and 12,000 years ago.
In addition to the incisions made on such objects, the authors also describe the use of ochre (a red pigment) during the Paleoindian period. This is significant because ochre has been found used on both artifacts and landscapes altered by humans all around the world, both in the archaeological record and in use by modern societies today. “While the use of ochre is not a diagnostic Paleoindian trait,” they write, “it is found fairly consistently from a wide variety of contexts throughout the period including burials, on animal bones, in caches, and numerous domestic contexts.” They also report that there is even an instance of ochre being mined by Paleoindian peoples in Wyoming.
The importance of these discoveries is in the information we obtain about hunter-gatherer societies that existed in prehistoric North America. According to the authors, this information includes how they exchanged information, their social mobility, how they transmitted culture, and how they signaled each other. It also helps dispel myths of primitive savagery that are still sometimes wrongly associated with prehistoric societies in general. Art in prehistoric North America may still be rare in comparison with art found in other parts of the world, but it appears that this has been primarily due to its invisibility.
Now that such discoveries can be made using new advances in technology, researchers can place these artifacts into a larger inventory of art that includes artifacts dating back as far as 100,000 years ago. The authors of the 2015 paper suggest that those interested in this history can have “more detailed discussions of the creation, maintenance, and use of engraved art across the globe” and can “[enhance] our understanding of shared patterns of symbolic behavior over vast amounts of time and space.”
Independent palaeoart and figure stone researcher Richard Wilson of the U.K. has built his own PTM camera and is covering it as his blog:
"I've uploaded a couple of ptm files to my website http://www.palaeoart.com (beware they are large files) for anyone interested in seeing the end result. Additionally the first eight or so pictures were rendered from PTMs and then cut out in Adobe Photoshop.
The artwork on the tiny fragile pendant, uncovered by a research team from the Universities of York, Manchester and Chester, is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain. Crafted from a single piece of shale, the subtriangular three-millimetre thick artefact measuring 31mm by 35mm contains a series of lines which archaeologists believe may represent a tree, a map, a leaf or even tally marks.
Engraved motifs on Mesolithic pendants are extremely rare and no other engraved pendants made of shale are known in Europe.
When archaeologists uncovered the pendant last year, the lines on the surface were barely visible. The research team used a range of digital microscopy techniques to generate high resolution images to help determine the style and order of engraving. They also carried out scientific analysis to try to establish if the pendant had been strung or worn and whether pigments had been used to make the lines more prominent.
Star Carr is one of a number of archaeological sites around what was the location of a huge lake which covered much of the Vale of Pickering in the Mesolithic era. Researchers discovered the pendant in lake edge deposits. Initially they thought it was natural stone – the perforation was blocked by sediment and the engravings were invisible.
It is the first perforated artefact with engraved design discovered at Star Carr though shale beads, a piece of perforated amber and two perforated animal teeth have been recovered from the site previously.
Professor Nicky Milner, of the Department of Archaeology at York, led the research. She said: “It was incredibly exciting to discover such a rare object. It is unlike anything we have found in Britain from this period. We can only imagine who owned it, how they wore it and what the engravings actually meant to them.
“One possibility is that the pendant belonged to a shaman — headdresses made out of red deer antlers found nearby in earlier excavations are thought to have been worn by shamans. We can only guess what the engravings mean but engraved amber pendants found in Denmark have been interpreted as amulets used for spiritual personal protection.”
Dr Chantal Conneller, from The University of Manchester and co-director of the excavations, said: “This exciting find tells us about the art of the first permanent settlers of Britain after the last Ice Age. This was a time when sea-level was much lower than today. Groups roamed across Doggerland (land now under the North Sea) and into Britain. The designs on our pendant are similar to those found in southern Scandinavia and other areas bordering the North Sea, showing a close cultural connection between northern European groups at this time.”
Dr Barry Taylor, from the University of Chester and co-director of the excavations, said: “I love these sorts of finds because they are a real connection to people in the past. When we study prehistory we deal with very long periods of time and often focus on very broad issues. But this is something that a person wore, that had significance to them and to the people around them. These sorts of artefacts tell us about people and, after all, that’s what archaeology is all about.”
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England which contributed to and part-funded the excavation and research publication said: “The discovery of the pendant is a sensational find. Star Carr is an internationally important ‘at risk’ site, which is why we have provided substantial financial support for the excavation and assistance through the input of our specialist archaeological and archaeological science teams. The results have exceeded our expectations and will help rewrite the story of this long and complex, but little understood early prehistoric period.”
Natalie McCaul, curator of archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, said: “We are thrilled to be able to showcase such a nationally significant object for the first time. Its remarkable discovery changes the way we think about our ancestors who lived in Yorkshire 11,000 years ago and the rituals, beliefs and cultural values that were part of their lives. We are excited that the rest of the collection from the excavations will come to the museum in time and we’re looking forward to preserving and displaying it for the public to enjoy.”
Researchers from the University of York’s Department of Physics and Centre for Digital Heritage, and Hull York Medical School were also involved in the analysis of the pendant.
The display at the Yorkshire Museum will also feature other Star Carr finds including flints, a rare barbed point used for hunting or fishing and 11,000 year old fire lighters – amazingly preserved birch bark rolls. These will feature alongside digital interpretation and high resolution imagery of the pendant."
Found Northfleet, Kent. C. 40,000 - 35,000 years B.P.
Length: 11cm, Width: 3.5 cm, Thickness: 3 cm, Weight: 91 grams
The area where this piece was found has been subjected to a great deal of construction activity, including road and railway building. It is likely that it was disturbed through these activities.
As the first part of the bird to enter the world, the beak may have been given symbolic significance and incorporated into a kind of animated tool.
I came across this Acheulean handaxe on the internet and noticed it may be another example of a handaxe with a face incorporated into its mid right edge.
Collectors and researchers of these handaxes should be aware of the possibility of a definable pattern of iconography on some of these tools, from Western Europe, North Africa and perhaps even North America.
German independent rock art researcher Ursel Benekendorff has identified a fine example which is featured on the link to her website on the right side panel of your screen.
About 2,000 years old
American archaeology was born in 1784 when Thomas Jefferson split open an earthen mound on his Monticello estate. In 2011 when I requested a meeting with Ohio's curating archaeologist to show him a suspected Paleolithic flint sculpture hoard I found on the shore of a former glacial terminus lake, he replied with a "no thanks" and sent some photos of some stone figures found in Ohio mounds, including the above Wray figurine, and explaining "this is what Native American art looks like." 227 years and so much for progress in Archaeology. They truly are "mound-bound" in their thinking.
The Ohio amateur archaeologist community has not developed a strong Paleolithic interest other than "fluted points." The book "Ohio Stone Tools" goes wrong starting with "A" for "anvil" which is incredulously missing from this publication and its decades later updated version. I have found anvils to be one the most common artifacts, often visible on the landscape and a proxy for Stone Age culture sites. They often have stories to tell based on their use scars. Anvils can also indicate bi-polar lithic reduction sites which produce distinct artifact types often not recognized by North Americans.
Paleolithic studies in North America seem unnecessarily limited to flints and cherts and tend to focus on spear points and the Clovis tool kit and its immediate precursors.
There is a great number and diversity of coarse stone expedient and opportunistic tools which may be found in surface surveys which seem to have simply been forsaken in the quest for more easily recognized, categorized, formalized and, most tragically, monetized types. The Appalachian and Allegheny mountain creek valleys in the eastern United States are chock full of these types of materials with the absence of flaked flint tools or debitage. No one has systemically studied them as far as I am able to determine without having access to academic journals behind "paywalls."
The sheer volume of this archaeological material suggests the presence of many people over long periods of time generating likely many billions of crude stone artifacts. Farmers, landowners and amateur archaeologists have tried to call attention to anomalous crude tools and have been summarily dismissed by Archaeology because of a kind of endemic Americentrism still rooted in Jefferson's mound which has severely distorted its knowledge generation system. There is a misconception that Mode-I Oldowan style and other simple pebble tools ceased being made in the Old World in the Lower Paleolithic and are not found in the Americas. This is a fallacy and is wide open for research by avant-garde archaeology scholars.
With humans in dense numbers in Asia by 900,000 years ago, and all kinds of flora and fauna crossing the Bearing land bridge, it seems highly unlikely the Americas remained sterile of humans until 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.
There could have been early people living in North America who did not use flaked cherts and flints but favored other more easily available materials on the landscape modified using techniques they were familiar with. Migrants from East Asia may have been just so disposed:
Stone with good fracture qualities—such as flint, jasper, and chert—was not always as readily available in Asia as it was elsewhere in the world. Asian populations, therefore, depended on coarse-grained quartz, volcanic tuff, and petrified wood, none of which lends itself to fine tool fabrication. The lack of good material may explain why stone tool making did not evolve in Asia. Choppers and chopping tools were still being made, for example, by Solo man of Asia, while his European contemporary, Neanderthal man, was able to manufacture hand axes, borers, and knives, as well as choppers.The Clovis fetish gave them a wild goose chase for a few decades. As long as North American Archaeology is chasing flaked chert and flint to the near exclusion of other stone materials, it still may not be chasing evidence for the earliest Americans, but its own tail.
These rocks were recovered together eroding out of a hilltop in eastern Licking County, Ohio, which in the Ice Age was not glaciated but is described by local geologists as a "glacial overlook." It was a promontory site where one could have stood on the hill and observed the flowing Wisconsin and Illinoisan glaciers' terminal moraines in the valley below during their respective eras. The valley was at one time 400 feet lower than its present day 100 feet when it was a part of the Plio-Pleistocene Teays River system. It has been filled with glacial till in the past two episodes.
Each of these 10 items from the glacial overlook were identified by me as artifacts and collected as representative of tools available in great numbers in the local area and at places identified by many amateur archaeologists as reported to this blog. They came from within a one meter area but demonstrate 5 distinct lithic reduction strategies or technologies which are not recognized by many archaeologists because of the focus on flint. I only collected 10 tools and was not conscious of the reduction types until inspecting the group on my workbench. Portable rock art featured on this blog has been found nearby but not in direct association with these particular tools.
1,2 From once rounded pebbles subject to bi-polar fracturing using a hammer and an anvil most likely anchored in the ground. The result is a "wedge" like an orange slice which has the smoothness of the cortex behind a sharp edge. On 2 above, the almost horizontal surface of the lower part is a result of use wear while the other visible planes are flake surfaces. The distal tip has become single-notched through use wear.
3,4 Mode I-Oldowan style pebble tools with just one break to create a sharp edge and showing use wear.
5,6 Naturally ergonomic hard stones which may have light work to make "distressed grip pads" and which demonstrate quite significant surface wear from use. Only slight modification to overall natural shape. 5 seems to be of pink granite and 6 seems a translucent to smokey grey quartzite.
7,8 White quartzite which had been flaked from larger pieces and which both show evidence of use. Number 7 has been reduced to a shape resembling a piece of chalk in its final seconds of use. 7 and 8 are so similar it seems possible they came from the parent core stone.
9,10 Heavy duty rhomboidal hand tools. They can be burins, borers, pounders, grinders, choppers and scrapers. They are made by sandwiching tabular stone blanks between two buffers, wood or stone slabs, and chipping the stone that is "sticking out the vise." This kind of diamond shape is an ergonomic form which conforms to the demands of the hand during use. They often have a notch to accommodate the thumb along one of edges and number 10 above shows just such a notch. These two are particularly thick or "chunky." They too demonstrate use wear. I first described this novel tool form in 2012 and their potential importance to American Archaeology, and frequent association with what has been identified as portable rock art, should not be underestimated. Illustration follows below.
Art from the Licking County, Ohio, glacial overlook featured earlier on this blog. A human face left profile sharing a mammoth head cresting its forehead. Ken Johnston find and interpretation.
This sculpture was found just 3 miles from the Hopewell Complex Newark Shaman find location. Is it just coincidence they both depict humans with animal heads atop their heads? Does this sculpture depict a human/mammoth shamanic transformation process in a way similar to the proposed Newark Shaman's human/bear transformation depiction? (click photo to expand)
Who was making this art and when were they here?
other finds featured on this blog. "You can see many faces on this left profile" writes Valentie. 38/30/20 cm.