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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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    'Bear figure'
    Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia, #44FK731

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    'Life-size human head sculpture looking left'

    A two-sided standing human head sculpture with a 'natural eye' from the Missouri mega portable rock art site The Old Route 66 Zoo (site #23JP1222). The head is in profile looking left in this photo.

    Side two of the sculpture presents a face looking right in 3/4 profile with both eyeball details as deliberately worked features in the stone. Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, near Joplin Missouri. Photography is by Stacy Dodd.

    The find as illustrated by Ken Johnston

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    'Pebble with four faces'
    Andrew Deviley finds, Brown County, Wisconsin

    "I'm located right outside Green Bay, Wisconsin. I've been finding artifacts on our farm or nearby that seem to have crude faces on a lot of them. I do have some that are more than a head but by far majority are just heads, animal and human. They can be looking left, right or straight on. There's a variety of ways they are made, some just three holes others with mouth open and some with or without a mouth. I have several that contain a high number of faces, these rocks depending on how you're holding it or looking at it brings out different faces. A lot of times they are sharing or intertwining parts of faces to create new ones. I have some where each edge has a face looking left or right depending on how you're holding it. Have you ever seen anything like that?" -Andrew Deviley

    Face two on the pebble

    Face three on the pebble

    Face four on the pebble

     Flaked human head likeness

     Human head figure in right profile with 'open mouth'

    Human head figure in right profile

    Andrew Deviley finds, Brown County, Wisconsin

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    'Human bust in right profile'
    Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia

    'Human head in left profile'

    'Stone portraits' have been found in great numbers in a concentrated area at Arkfeld Site. They cannot be accounted for statistically as the result of the chaotic forces of Mother Nature or pareidolia on the part of multiple observers. Because they are found in association with other discrete art motifs and tools they are likely to be objects of human manufacture and/or curation.

    Arkfeld Site artifacts

    More Arkfeld Site artifacts

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    'Engraved stone bar' associated with Levallois-like technology
    Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia

    Shuidonggou Paleolithic site, northwest China

    Professor Gao, director of this study, stated: “The SDG Paleolithic site includes 12 localities, ranging in date from Early Late Paleolithic to Late Paleolithic. The engraved stone artifact was found at Locality 1, which is about 30 ka BP. As the first Paleolithic site discovered in China, SDG Locality 1 is distinctive in Late Paleolithic industry of north China, because of its components of elongated tool blank production and Levallois-like technology.

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    'Human looking to upper left'
    Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, OR66Z site, Missouri

    Human head with prominent brow facing left

    Two left portraits in stone of archaic hominins from North America, The Old Route 66 Zoo, Site #23JP222

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    'Mammoth right profile with human face carved on its posterior'
    Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, #23JP1222

    Close up of human face along with illustration of features carved in the stone

    The 'mammoth with human or feline face at its posterior' rock art motif in North America was first described here and is seen in many examples on this blog.

    This sculptural 'template' or 'scheme' of a mammoth/human combination must have had a culturally associated meaning for the people who made them. Earlier this year I speculated it may illustrate a scene from a Paleolithic proto-Polyphemus tale.

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    Sculpted 'Human head'
    Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK731

    Adam Arkfeld has identified a bird figure facing left here. Although it may appear to some as a natural rock, this piece has been sculpted on the entire surface visible here. There is also a manufactured 'eye' in correct artistic position. It has acquired a weathered surface with calcite accumulations which attest to its great age. This is a very typical crude Paleolithic bird figure stone.

    Siberian bird figurine identified by archaeologist M. A. Kiriyak at the Russian Upper Paleolithic Bol'shoi El'gakhchan I site

    The bird's 'eye' illustrated on the Arkfeld Site figure

    Siberian bird figure

    'Standing bull' animal figure identified by Adam Arkfeld at his site

    Bull, human and bird painted scene from the cave at Lascaux, France

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    Lion in estrus in coital crouch position
    From The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, #23JP1222
    Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, Jasper County, Missouri
    Illustration of the interpreted feline in an exaggerated crouching position. The cat's tail is depicted as a stub as if the rest of it is draped over the right side of the cat and outside viewer perspective.

    An ocher-caked feline in coital crouch position I found at the Spout Run Paleolithic site in Bluemont, Virginia. This art motif is seen in several examples on this blog.

    A house cat in estrus in the feline coital crouch position

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    'Bird figure looking right'
    From The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, #23JP1222
    Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, Jasper County, Missouri

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    'Stone birds in flight with wings'
    The Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia

    This sculpted piece of limestone may be interpreted as having at least two figurative bird possibilities. Much of the portable rock art featured on this blog incorporates two or more creatures, often exploiting the visual ambiguity of the stone or involving shared body elements or optical illusions.

    Here a bird with tail at left may be interpreted as like a raptor while a second bird with head at left may depict as like a goose. This could be a predator-prey pairing as is seen in other examples on this blog.

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    Lion and mammoth portable petroglyph
    Henri Valentie find, near Limoges, central France

    This piece was found near a semicircle megalith near the town of LIMOGES, center of France. View of one side observes a half-body of a feline on the left and seen on the right an elephant half-body. On the next picture on the other side of the piece is an elephant. Dim: 24cm / 12cm


    henri VALENTIE

    Illustration of the two joined half-bodies of feline and mammoth or elephant interpreted by Henri Valentie. A layer of stone which contrasts with the stone below it has been selectively removed to create the bas relief outline of the two joined animals facing away from each other.

    The approximate 'eye' locations of the two animals are circled. The lion seems to have subtle ear detail. The top of the 'blue Y' in the illustration represents an area of stone removal to visually split, define, demarque or bifurcate the two animals and also to join them.

    Other side of stone is in a mammoth shape

    Ken Johnston interpretation of possible trace remnants of a human face

    This is a remarkable find and interpretation by Mr. Valentie.

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    Jason Lamont find, Hardin County, Tennessee

    This stone has been sculpted and stands upright on a flat base. The bird head up close seems to intentionally depict something roundish being held in the bird's beak.

    Jason has suggested this piece may depict a 'bird emerging from its egg' and I think that is quite possible. The bird is raptor-like with the curvature of the upper beak being quite pronounced.

    Many figures in a motif of 'bird with head turned back' have been featured on this blog. They typically feature water birds like ducks with the head turned back and beak tucked to their back in a 'sleeping water bird' position. This piece identified by Jason is so interesting because it strongly resembles these figures, often of floating water birds, but it has a raptor-like head. It could be a mixture of the two types of birds in something like an 'eagle-duck' combination creature.

    This sculpture was found in a portable rock art context identified by Jason Lamont in Hardin County, Tennessee, and featured in other postings on this blog.

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    'Mammoth cresting human forehead' motif on an ocher-stained carved plaquette. Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, near Joplin, Missouri. Site #23JP1222.

    Illustration of the human and mammoth profiles facing left, where the mammoth is depicted on top of the human's head. This is a North American Paleolithic art motif identified on this blog. The person's mouth is deeply incised which disambiguates the plaquette and says "this is an intended human form" despite the rest of the stonework being relatively vague.

    Stacy Dodd processed his photo of the sculpture with the D-Stretch rock art digital enhancement tool for Image-J and it reveals yellow and red ocher stains which are only barely visible to the naked eye in the original photo. The ocher stains suggest intentional decoration of the plaquette or perhaps even ceremonial use of those pigment substances while handling it.

    A human-mammoth hybrid from European cave art was traced by Brad Lepper of The Ohio History Connection.

    Licking County, Ohio, example of a human face profile with a mammoth head cresting the human's forehead, was found in the context of other mammoth sculptures and menhirs near my home on the former glacial swamp now known as Buckeye Lake. This was the first one I identified but many more have now been documented on this blog.

    There is a head of a second mammoth-like creature depicted facing right on the back of the human's head. An 'eye,''tusk,''trunk' and 'curved head' are diagnostic elements of the animal. The tusk is defined by an incised line in the stone and the 'eye' has been gouged out in the correct anatomical position.

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    'Mammoth profile facing left with human face on its posterior facing right'
    Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, #23JP1222, near Joplin, Missouri

    Human face profile sculpted on the mammoth's posterior

    The intentionality of a mammoth figure here is evidenced by the manufacture of an 'eye' divot in an artistically correct position for the animal's eye.

    When the mammoth form is rotated 180 degrees a human-like face is seen in profile looking to the right

    There is a second smaller human face profile worked into the forehead of the larger face figure. Click photo to expand view. The top part of the stone above the two circled faces may be interpreted as a mammoth form cresting the stacked human faces.

    When the figure is rotated 90 degrees left it presents another human face profile looking left with eye, nose and lips details.

    In the illustration the black outline highlights another mammoth form which is sharing or cresting the forehead of the human face figuration. The smaller face which was circled in the prior image is on this smaller mammoth's posterior back looking skyward as illustrated by the black arrow near its eye.

    Human face profile looking left with mammoth form cresting its forehead, worked on the base edge of a mammoth shaped figure stone.

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            'Open egg form with visibility into its internal structure'
    Henri Valentie find, a Lower Paleolithic site, Island of Oleron, France
    During all those years of research I noticed that, besides all forms nature offers in rocks- trees, fruit, animals etc., the egg-shaped rocks were considered as the most ideal kind. The big cosmic egg, the germinal force and origin of life, seems to have been a very important notion and turns out to be a main line in the images. -Jan van Es, Roermond, Netherlands
    Stone pierced by nature but retouched to enlarge or to complete the work of nature. The bars that cross the hole are made of stones. If you know this natural phenomenon I will be curious to know it. Dim: 8/6 cmle hole made 3 cm in diameter.

    The second picture is I think a character sitting. We observe the splinters removed on the head and on the inf and post limbs. Dim 18/15 cm. These 2 stones come from the same site on the Island of Oleron.
    I wish you a happy New Year
    Henri VALENTIE

    In this view of the second stone described by Mr. Valentie I see a possible rabbit figure in profile looking right

    Cortex removal in selected locations to affect an 'ear' and a 'nose' of the perceived rabbit likeness of this pierre-figure.

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    'Human head profile facing right'
    Adam Arkfeld find, Clear Brook, Virginia, Site #44FK731

    Deeply incised and angular lines define the figure's eye area and provide quite complete confirmation of the intentional art enterprise evidenced at this remarkable archaeology site. Please note the lower right of this photo which includes the human's 'nose' and shows a human face which has been carved and included looking right on its surface.

    Close up view of the human face looking right on the 'nose' of the larger human profile

    When the human head profile is rotated 90 degrees left the top stone layer in the stone's relief appears to depict a beaver-like animal with faint remnants of its eye, nose and mouth still faintly visible on the stone.

    Illustration of the animal face features on the sone.

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    Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia

    This sculpted stone is in a motif seen in many instances on this blog and in several from Arkfeld Site. This is a human head likeness in profile facing right with an expanded eye area. There have been stone removals to affect a curved nose and a tongue-like feature near the 'mouth.'

    The human is simultaneously a mammoth profile figure facing right where the human and mammoth more or less share the same 'eye' feature in the stone. The human's 'nose' is also the 'trunk' of the mammoth figure. The mammoth's 'head bump' is the crest of the human's forehead in the depiction.

    Also of probable significance, there is a small incised crosshatch pattern in the stone above the 'eye' hole which seems inspired by a wholly natural crosshatch feature of the stone formation itself.

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    'Stone doll with head looking left'
    Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia


    A weathered tool from the Arkfeld Site prepared for suspension with natural materials by Adam Arkfeld.

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    'Pair of mammoth stone figures in right profile view'
    Jason Lamont finds from his portable rock art site at Hardin County, Tennessee

    'Human head figure facing left'

    'Cobble with breaks made to affect a human head likeness'

    Natural forces are typically moving rock material toward roundness in shape. When a stone like this 'qube' is found in a suspected stone artifact context, it should be regarded as a human product, maybe a tool and maybe even a geometric novelty for the maker.

    This stone has a human face on it, expressed in bas relief. There are two eyes, a bridge and nose and a donut-shaped mouth.

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