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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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    Keith Stamper identification of human head profile, one of several, he has found among flaked tools in a small area of his yard, St. Peters, Missouri, near the Mississippi River.

    Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a plaquette depicting a human head profile looking left, crested by a bird head with a wing feature in relief. This motif has been described by figure stone researcher Alan Day at Ohio site 33GU218.

    It appears 3 flakes were removed to create the brow and eyes of the human, which also finishes the bird head form. The stone element in the lower right may be interpreted alternately as hair on the human head or as the bird's wing.
    .
    This stone in its own might not be interpreted as a possible artifact. However, Keith Stamper has identified other apparently worked rocks with visual properties like other objects seen on this blog, as well as many stone tools all found in direct context with the suspected art.

    The context suggests this is a work of very subtle sculpture relief rather than Keith's imagination. Keith Stamper identified this possible art piece as a human facial profile looking right, with a kind of swept back hair feature on the upper left edge.

    Rock depicting a human head with a prominent nose facing right, in the elongated style described by R. Dale Guthrie and illustrated in his "human to animal" gradient of head depictions in Paleolithic art. 



    This Keith Stamper tool find is a heavy-duty ficron

    Side 2 of heavy-duty ficron

    Levallois blade, St. Peters Missouri, U.S.A. 

    Archaeologists searching for evidence of early Americans need to be looking for technologies which differ from those they are familiar with from the 13,000 BP to present time frame. And maybe they should be looking toward Europe as well as Asia. There is no official recognition of American Levallois technology despite amateurs like Rick Doninger presenting hundreds of examples and every stage of core and flake reduction possible. It has not been described by any archaeologists most likely because they do not know how to recognize it as a discrete set of technologies separate from the most common artifacts they are familiar with (Mode 4 technology). Mode 3 technology persisted until the 19th century in places like Tasmania and it is possible it was brought to North America as well.

    More Levallois flake reduction technology



    A possible Prarie Dog depiction, St. Peters, Missouri, Keith Stamper

    -kbj

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    Quartz woman's head (with hair or hat) looking left

    Irrigon, Oregon, Columbia River valley, manuported (exotic) stone imported to sites in his locale by prehistoric humans and collected by Dennis Boggs. Figurative interpretation by Ken Johnston. The human face depicted has mid-facial nose prominence and a recessive chin.

    Mark up of approximate eye, nose and mouth features on the anthropomorphic face

    Wings spread on little bird's back in quartz crystals

    The bird figure with outline of its tail, back and top of head

    Two of the surfaces on the stone are ground relatively flat and come together at about a 45 degree angle. That angle is worn right at a spot where the index finger supports it for viewing like a stone portrait as in the very top photo. The stone exhibits significant handling in this regard. (Dennis Boggs find, Irrigon, Oregon.)

    -kbj

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     Dennis Boggs find, Irrigon, Oregon. I think this could be an abstract standing pregnant female in right profile form being depicted by selected removal of a stone layer, leaving a bulging rounded shape on the lower right side here.

    LEFT: "An Acheulean hand axe from the Somme valley, northern France. Hand axes show variation in form, being oval, triangular, or “teardrop” in shape. Note the symmetrical form of this example and the large number of flake scars, typical of many examples from west of the Movius Line."

    RIGHT: side 2 of Irrigon, Oregon sculpted stone. (click photos to expand)

    The geometric shaping of this Oregon stone was probably inspired by the raw material, white quartz with alternating tan layers

    Side view of the sculpted stone

    A Knox County, Ohio, flint from my collection, ca. 8,000 to 3,000 BP 

    The Ohio flint on top of the Oregon quartz sculpture for size and shape comparison

    (Left) Oregon sculpture, (center) Acheulean handaxe, Morocco, N. Africa, (right) Ohio


    -kbj

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    Dennis Boggs find, Irrigon, Oregon

    This is a worked representation of a human head profile looking left with an elongated face and nose. There is no apparent tool use for this object and the attention to detail in the micro-sculpting of this pebble, its likeness to an anthropomorphic image and its likeness to other suspected sculptures suggests the work was done to realize the image. Mr. Boggs has collected suspected tools and art objects from along the Columbia River at Irrigon, Oregon for almost 50 years and generously gifted his finds to this blog so they could shared with a wide audience. (enter BOGGS in the blog search box at right for a list of other postings related to this collection)

    From Jan van Es, The Netherlands, a long-faced human head rock which shares iconographic similarity with the Oregon sculpted pebble

    The Oregon pebble face is translucent and has red inclusions in the amber orange color 

    The pebble has been split to open up a side for the sculpture. (LEFT) The cortex on the left side and the worked surface on the right side. (RIGHT) the raw stone surface or cortex

    Cortex view with CM scale (approx. 4cm long)

    Dennis Boggs' Oregon pebble artifact on left, Keith Stamper Missouri artifact with similar iconography on right was found in context of Levallois technique tools. Jan van Es said he recognizes the Keith Stamper stone as strikingly similar to typical early Neanderthaler art he has studied dated 300,000 to 150,000 years before present.

    Here is a markup on the Oregon artifact illustrating the interpreted facial features, white eye, black base of nose and red mouth. The eye is small bit of flint in relief which was retained in the "correct" position by the skilled rock artist here. (click photos to expand)

    -kbj

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    Identified as a worked mini-sculpture of a human head profile looking left by archaeologist Jan van Es, The Netherlands. The small black dot on the upper left edge is a feature in the stone which serves as the person's "eye," with nose, mouth and chin completing the subtle but palpable image.

    -kbj

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    Quartz mammoth sculpture in silhouette facing left, from Buckeye Lake, Ohio

    The mammoth is often represented in this form, depicting its imposing height and the "domed head" as prominent defining features. The sculpture stands upright on a perfectly flat base. It was found in the context of cobble and pebble tools from a trench at a depth of about two feet. It was found about 100 feet from the "Buckeye Lake paleolithic flint sculpture hoard" of 7 sculptures found in immediate proximity in another trench on my 1/2 acre property.

    Quartz is an exotic lithic material to the mostly drab native Ohio bedrock of limestones and sandstones. It is imported as glacial till to central Ohio in the Illinoian and Wisconsinin ages, with terminal moraines and outwash flows from both episodes being found within a few miles of each other in this locale. The Appalacial Plateau slowed or stopped the glaciers in this area. Much of this exotic material can probably be traced to the mountains of Canada to the north.

    Side 2 depicts a 2nd mammoth form in profile, facing right

    Artifact shown with scale. The flat edge at left is the base of the sculpture which presents it in correct viewing orientation

    In addition to the overall stone shape as a whole representing a mammoth on the figure's two sides, there is a third, smaller, mammoth figure facing left here and a human face profile facing right nested in the sculptural image.

    The human form associated with the mammoth is a North American palaeoart motif established on this blog and first documented by Ursel Benekendorff from the Lower Paleolithic site of Gross Pampau, Germany, dated approx. 475,000 years before present. Like the Acheulean handaxe and other tool traditions, this art tradition has persisted for many tens of thousands of years.

    My markup of the photo illustrating my interpretations. The white arrow indicates the human face line of sight from the eye. Chris Smith find, San Sabo County, Texas, also depicts a human face on the back of a mammoth sculpture, as do several others featured on this blog.

    On the lower back side of the sculpture, is a worked human face figure on what is the posterior of the mammoth. The normal natural fractal pattern of the quartz crystals has been disturbed to create the facial elements and is evident under 10x lighted magnification.

    Artifacts like this are confirmable by qualified archaeological and petrological scientists but no one in an official capacity sees a reason to do so. This ignores a large portion of the available stone traces of our human past and distorts it significantly. Art is much more likely to inform us of the lives of our ancestors than "tool sets," which have been falsely defined as "cultures" by orthodox archaeologists. 

    A close up of the human face in carved quartz crystals illustrated in the photo at above right

    One-eyed lion head on same quartz stone

    The mammoth's eye from the right profile view of the whole stone (as in 2nd photo from top) is also the shiney right eye of a one-eyed feline head depicted on the front of the sculpture. 

    Close up of mammoth and lion eye shared element. It becomes light reflective only from a single perspective when rotating the stone. This is a close up view of the eye at the moment it catches the light. 

    The one-eyed lion is a motif in Paleolithic portable rock art also found on a flint sculpture 10 miles from the Buckeye Lake quartz example, as well as a ceramic art piece from the European Dolni Vestonice archaeological site. It has also been identified on a figure found by Luigi Ciapparroli in northern Italy.

    I would like to take time to thank Ursel Beneckendorff, Alan Day, Allen Deibel, J. Harrod and Jan van Es for their fine archaeological observations and for sharing their "portable rock art" knowledge and wisdom so freely. As my old, blind, great uncle Paul said when standing at the mountain valley vista place at Happy Top, Tennessee, "I can see it all."

    -kbj

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    The stone may also depict a mammoth in profile looking right here with the "domed head," "eye" and a "trunk" on its right edge, similar to the Ohio example featured in the prior posting and in several others on this blog. "The human and mammoth combination sculpture" may be something to look for along the former glacial margins in North America.

    -kbj

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    Bird figure in flint, Muskingum County, Ohio

    Side 2 of the bird figure

    The bird has a patch of quartz crystals on its head, like a sparkling crest, the only crystals on the piece. There is also an "eye" on the bird, increasing the chances of human intent to create the figure.


    Patch of crystals catches the light

    The bird perched in my hand

    Two bird figures found 5 miles from each other, along Flint Ridge in east central Ohio demonstrate similar morphology. This indicates the creation of figures may have been widely practiced at Flint Ridge in prehistory. The bird figure at right was featured in an earlier post.

    Levallois technology bird sculptures

    The two bird figures are very close in size. They are sculpted in core preparation and then separated using Levallois technique, leaving a 3D type bird and a "flat" bird on the side detached from the core. 

    Muskingum County, Ohio, Levallois technique flake centered on a lighter colored stone inclusion has visible use wear

    Ohio Levallois point has use wear on its edge

    Levallois flake with use wear, Vanport flint, Flint Ridge, Ohio

    Two different artifacts pictured here

    Levallois point at left has a patch of quartz crystals on the left side in the picture here, just like the patch of crystals on the bird figure's head. At right is a lamellar blade which exhibits use wear

    Classic Levallois technique flake requires explanation in the North American context. It has been described from three sites on this blog producing suspected portable rock art objects, each on the former margin of the Wisconsinin period glaciation. 


    Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a type of Mode 3 Mousterian handaxe from Muskingum County, Ohio. Often mistaken as "just flint cores" this is an ergonomically designed and manufactured tool in its own right. In the photo at right, the blade of the tool is seen on the left edge. The flat side of such tools may have been slid along larger animal flesh to remove hides and fur. The left edge here exhibits use wear.

    Handaxe is designed to fit the contours of the hand much like a contemporary computer mouse. It resembles a turtle carapice.

    The thumb would normally be placed on the side of the handaxe and used to propel the blade edge away from one's body during hide removal. The removal of the side for a thumb pad was the final step of manufacture of the hand axe.

    Thumb to be placed on top surface as pictured here, large mammal flesh in contact with side pictured here, curved edge on bottom pictured here separates hide from flesh.

    From Europe: A Mousterian flake created by the Levallois Technique (left) and a Mousterian hand axe (right). Both approximately 100,000 years old. This Mousterian handaxe also resembles a turtle carapice.

    Levallois technique illustrated
    Attribution: José-Manuel Benito Álvarez

    -kbj

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    A Nethers Flint bird sculpture from Muskingum County, Ohio

    Ventral view of a colorful Nethers Flint bird form made on a large flake, from the Vanport formation in east central Ohio. The ventral side was detached from the parent stone core. It measures 15.5cm by 6.6cm.

    A context of other flint bird sculptures of similar form supports the hypothesis this was an intentionally created bird icon. The artist selected a nice color-banded piece of stone material. It does not have ground eyes or other added features which signify an artists intent to realize the bird form but the selection of material and presentation of two birds make it more likely this was conceived as a bird sculpture than it was an "accident." The black and white and color bands in this flint are diagnostic of Nethers Flint, which can be sourced to a quarry on the modern day farm of John Nethers.

    Dorsal side view of the flake bird sculpture which was set up by the artist on a prepared flint core. Some of the rust-colored cortex of the stone is retained by the artist to make a wing depiction.

    -kbj

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     Jeff Vincent find, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas

    Jeff has identified several portable rock art sculpture forms at his site in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas. The "face on rhombus" was first described by German Pleistocene rock art pioneer Ursel Benekendorff whose proto-sculpture and sculpture finds from northern Germany date to ca. 475,000 years before present. Jeff's example here likely also exhibits the "one eye open, one eye closed or missing" motif associated with some of the human face mask art objects of the European Lower and Middle Palaeolithic.




    Jeff Vincent holds a typical looking limestone bird sculpture made using a buffer technique on a tabular stone blank to trim away the rock to create the desired profile of a bird. The rhombus and the bird help create a context which supports the likely further productivity of this Arkansas location for additional art and tool finds. Please keep us informed of your finds Jeff.

    -kbj

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    Buzzy Boles carved quartz find, Laurens County, South Carolina. Interpreted as a mammoth head and trunk viewed straight-on. Buzzy has identified other portable rock art finds, including probable mammoth sculptures


    Mammoth and bear depictions simultaneously depending on how one focuses visual attention on the carving. Markups along with unaltered photos for comparisons.

    In addition to the mammoth visage as if looking at it head on here, I interpret a second animal figuration, possibly a bear, turned as if looking to the left. These kinds of combination of forms into one, requiring a shifting of one's visual attention from one figure to another, may be seen as optical illusions intended by the creator of the sculpture.

    Interpreted by Mr. Boles as having two mammoth visages. Here is the second mammoth head and trunk as if being viewed head-on. Buzzy has identified several likely mammoth figure stones. The stone material of this one is very similar to this Ohio quartz mammoth material. It is possible some forms called for certain types of rock material to be used, or that some rock material called for certain forms to be made of it.

    -kbj

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    Beegden, The Netherlands, from Jan van Es, Old Acheulean, >400,000 years before present

    -kbj

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    Chris Schram find, Westminster Colorado, near Big Dry Creek

    Human head profile looking left, mid-facial prominence and recessive chin like archaic-type humans or Homo neanderthalensis. This is the second human profile on petrified wood identified by Chris, the first one featured in an earlier posting on this blog.

    -kbj

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    Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find
    "The Old Route 66 Zoo," Jasper County, Missouri, site 23JP1222

    Bison climbing on back of mammoth with a bison head facing backward is a significant American palaeoart sculpture identified by Ken Johnston from site number 23JP1222, the "Old Route 66 Zoo."

    The bison may be interpreted here as copulating with the mammoth indicating a possible fertility symbolism associated with these two animals.

    Even though we know the mammoth/bison combination from the portable rock art of the "Old World" and from Western European cave art, it is also found in North America as demonstrated by this and other postings on this blog.

    Until this portable rock art modality is recognized by Anthropology and archaeological work is done on these finds in North America to provide dating- the worlddoes not know if the mammoth/bison motif originated in the Americas or Eurasia.

    Ken Johnston's interpretation of the palaeoart piece. Bison head looking left, bison head is also the rear half of the bison facing right as if climbing on the back of the mammoth. The bison climbing on the back of the mammoth has been interpreted as the bison mounting the mammoth for copulation.
     
    Utah petroglyph documented by Ekkehart Malotki and Henry D. Wallace has now been interpreted by Ken Johnston as likely depicting the bison mounting the mammoth for copulation as in the "Old Route 66 Zoo" mammoth/bison combination sculpture. 
     

    -kbj

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    Ken Johnston find, Buckeye Lake, Ohio
     
    Interpreted as a worked quartz feline face on an egg-shaped stone. It was found in a strong context of other suspected portable rock art pieces. The distinctly feline face was noticed in the field and it looked like a "cat with a big head," now interpreted as the feline and egg form. (Click photos to expand).

    The mammoth/bison combination sculpture from 23JP1222 featured in the previous posting has been interpreted to also depict a feline face and egg form visually integrated into the mammoth's head. The mammoth's ear may also be interpreted as an egg form here and a feline face was worked onto a reddish component of the flint. The cat's face is circled here and possible ears/crack in egg highlighted.
     
    Allen Deibel of Canfield, Ohio, is an artist, naturalist, hunter and avocational archaeologist who has detected subtle feline imagery worked into stones in the Mahoning River valley in north east Ohio. The Buckeye Lake, Ohio, and Missouri figures have feline faces worked into the stone in a very similar manner as Mr. Deibel has discovered and documented.
     
    Allen Deibel illustration of iconographic worked pebble 

    Possible feline and mastodon combination on a worked pebble illustrated by Allen Deibel

    Allen Deibel illustration of worked pebbles from the Mahoning River valley, Ohio, most interpreted by Mr. Deibel as having feline head and face imagery.

    Irrigon, Oregon incised stone find by Dennis Boggs interpreted by Allen Deibel as a feline face (purple here) and by Ken Johnston as an egg (white) with a chick (yellow) and the beak of the mother bird (blue) was featured in an earlier posting. The crack visible at the top of this egg-shaped stone is a natural feature and is could be symbolic of the cosmic source of life. It may have inspired the artist to depict this complex composition using four icons of nature.

    The Lower Palaeolithic "Kempen Stone Face" from Belgium was interpreted by Ken Johnston as depicting a lion head and mouth (orange) holding a kitten (in yellow here) emerging from an egg form which is "cracked" by a banded inclusion of lighter stone material running the length of the sculpture. This is a confirmed artifact by archaeologist L. Jimmy Groen.

    The egg form in portable rock art and thoughts from Jan van Es:

    "The question if stone-age men -besides their technical tool-kit filled with types and traditions- also recorded their own identity, always has been (and still is) my motive to examine every artifact very accurately.

    Cave-paintings, some worked ivory, bone and horn sculptures, portraits etc. mostly have been estimated at not older than 30.000 BP and coupled with modern mankind. But all those hundreds of thousands of years before seem to be a great empty gap, while the established archaeologists worldwide and repeatedly were and still are exposing stone-age tools -already known and accepted by the public- with even the most fantastic names.

    In 1971 at last I thought to have found some confirmation with the find of a neolithic leaf-point: frontal (ventral) I saw a male portrait (with pointed cap) and at the backside (dorsal) a bearded man. I wondered: were these images worked out deliberately? Were they caused by accident? Perhaps the creator didn't see it at all? Anyway this piece has been the instigator to the intensification of my research, concerning this phenomenon. I wanted to find out whether this was of frequent occurrence or this artifact would turn out to be an isolated case.

    In course of time my collection increased rapidly and it was very astonishing to find out that this phenomenon turned up more often. The more surprised I was because of the fact that the professionals never mentioned anything like it. They keep on showing their tools in similar typologies as if it is a merely technical matter. All the same I recognized ever-recurring themes of portraits and animal images in several tools (called "pseudo tools" by the profs), which made me wonder what to call such stones: "tools", "sculptures" or even a combination of these? As I put it to several profs, I was called a "pseudo"-collector, fantast (cloud-watcher).

    Later on several amateurs, still wanting the verification of professionals (and still working with the standards of those profs), turned their backs upon this matter. To me the opinion of the profs had not that great importance to chuck up! No! On the contrary, it was all the more reason to go against it and to look for supporters and like-mindeds and to find them (which I did).

    While enlarging my collection I noticed that the older the tools and sculptures, the clearer the images. Through the years I discovered that in particular blade-sculptures which, by their abstract and symmetrical forms, were more difficult to interpret than the Early Paleolithic pieces. Particularly people of the older stone-age traditions were handling the principle: nature shows and offers the basic forms or basic shapes. They acquired these forms to fix and perpetuate their "image-language" in typological iterations. Take for instance a round shaped stone. By making little alterations from time to time one finally ends with a square or another shape. The phases (or stages) in between were utilized to develop other sculptures, thus the working process was in stages from zero all the way to a complete and total form.

    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. The reproductions of sculptures can be "read" in all ways nature offers, like the shine of fire, twilight, fog, vivid sunlight, moistness et cetera. Using these techniques of "looking" one discovers a shadow language. By turning and overturning the sculptures with this technique (using the above mentioned elements) one can "read" a story. A story in which actually the profs ought to have deepened. Anyway, taking effort to reflect up, on this matter wouldn't be bad.

    -Jan van Es, Roermond, The Netherlands. (Transl. J.Huber)

    Thanks to Allen Deibel for his original line drawings of some of his "Stone Cat Collection"

    -kbj

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    "The FLK North Pecked Cobble"
    Mary Leakey find, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
     
    Harrod, J. (2013). Symbolic behavior (palaeoart) at two million years ago: The Olduvai Gorge FLK North Pecked Cobble: The earliest artwork in human evolution. Session: Archaeology and the science of rock art. IFRAO International Rock Art Congress 2013, Albuquerque, NM, USA. IFRAO presentation is 16 slides extracted from this 39 slide pdf in turn extracted from a 110 slide version work-in-progress. This 39 slide version focuses on Homo habilis capacity for perceiving and applying design principles into tools and palaeoart; the full version contains hypothetical reconstructions of Homo habilis neural substrates for numerosity and the act of making markings on an art medium.

    Mary Leakey working at Olduvai Gorge, early 1970's.

    -kbj

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    Bearded man head profile looking left where the man's beard is also a bird form. The tip of man's beard is the tip of the bird's beak. 

    The bird's "eye" also serves as the man's "mouth" in the depiction. 

    The man's "nose and forehead" may be seen as a depiction of a mammoth front profile, with the tip of the man's "nose" also being the tip of the mammoth "trunk."

    A sculpture from the "Old Route 66 Zoo" site number 23JP1222, Missouri, has also been interpreted as having a human face depiction where the man's chin (beard) is also a bird. The anthropomorphic head profile is seen facing right in the first photo. When the sculpture is rotated 180 degrees, the "chin" or "beard" of the man is seen to depict a perched bird (photo at right above).

    The find locations of the Arkansas and Missouri sculpture examples featured here are about 150 miles apart.

     Side 2 of the Mammoth Springs Arkansas sculpture has a couple of areas which invoke bird likenesses

    View of side 1 with bearded man and bird visible in top half of the stone

    Side 2 with illustration of interpreted forms. A turkey head at top and a smaller bird at bottom with human breasts including nipples.

    -kbj

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    The recent discovery of Neanderthal exploitation of the pliability quality of bone to make tools to assist in leather working makes it possible the "Mask" of la Roche-Cotard is a remnant of a compound tool of stone and bone. The bone was inserted into the stone which may have served as a handle which brought leverage to the pliable bone in order to be a more effective tool. The bone broke during use and was left in the stone to be interpreted by some today as the "eyes" in an intentional face mask representation.

    It is possible it was an intended mask figure or that it was recognized in prehistory as such but we have no way to know because no similar iconography has been identified. There is no macro context of formal art to support this object as an intended face figure. It could be an informal piece or an idiosyncratic artistic expression but it seems more unlikely now in light of Neanderthal use of bone tools.  


    Illustration by Ken Johnston

    The flint handle may have been the basis of a compound tool which was made to accommodate interchangeable bone scraper blades. The blades were secured by insertion of little pebble wedges, two of which are found in this artifact. The bone may have been too difficult to extract after this break and its functionality as a tool abandoned.

    -kbj

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    Beegden, The Netherlands, archaeologist Jan van Es, >200,000 years before present
     
     Horse head image interpreted by van Es

      Fish head image interpreted by van Es


    Feliks, J. 1998. The impact of fossils on the development of visual representation. Rock Art Research 15: 109-34. 

    "Abstract: The origins of visual representation have been debated primarily in terms of human activity and psychology. This paper proposes that man-made representation was preceded by a natural, already quite perfected representational system, the products of which were observed and collected by early humans. The author suggests the following new hypotheses: (1) Fossils were a means by which human beings came to understand the concepts of 'imagery' and 'substitution' prior to the creation of man-made images. (2) Humans evolved their own forms of iconic visual representation (especially those in the medium of rock), having first been made aware of various possibilities via fossils. (3) Many unexplained prehistoric artworks may be structurally and proportionally accurate depictions of fossils. Because fossils are known throughout the world, the hypotheses have cross-cultural validity. Clinical studies offer the potential of analogical testability."

    -kbj

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     Flint Ridge, Ohio, flake tool centered on white inclusion with possible iconography
     
    This flake tool stood out at a Flint Ridge quarry and workshop location as having a very old appearing patina and it looked to have been set up on a prepared core so as to center the flake on a white inclusion in the stone. When I later studied the flake I noticed what could be horse head imagery and showed it to Brennah, age 10, who happens to ride at an equestrian center on Flint Ridge. She said it had a "fish's mouth." Her mom looked at it and confirmed the "horse's mouth" was more like a fish mouth to her.
     
    The possible horse imagery I perceive on this flake is approximated by this photograph of a modern day Andalusian. I think there is a high risk of pareidolia with this observation but I am documenting it in the event it could be a pattern that bears out in future suspected figurative portable rock art works. There is a small hole on the artifact in the place of a horse's nostril and such elements are suspected to have been used by Stone Age artists to animate or bring symbolic life to stone art figures. This supports the idea that a horse image may have been created or recognized in prehistory.
     
    The combination of a horse head image with a fishy mouth may not seem to make any sense to us today as an intended figure but in photos in the prior posting Jan van Es has described a combination of horse, fish and human imagery on the same stone from an "Old world" site. This combination of horse and fish may have had a symbolic meaning to ancient peoples and may be a kind motif to be on the look out for in portable rock art analysis. As van Es has written, a "shadow language" from our human past is available for our discovery and study. What might be perceived as only tools by conventional Archaeology may also be found to have significantly informative iconic properties upon re-visitation and a new consideration.
     
    Mousterian handaxe from France centered on a white patch of cortex left on the stone, also having a "fish mouth" aspect on its edge at right which is somewhat similar to the "fish mouth" on the Ohio artifact. Of course perhaps a coincidence or my own projection of a perceived similarity but perhaps a recurring subtle iconic form to be aware of in portable rock art studies. I found the France example while looking for artifacts centered on white inclusions like the Ohio example and noticed the similar fish mouth feature on it. A coincidental observation but is the appearance of these similar forms on the worked edges of two artifacts a clue that there might be more such icons yet unrecognized?

    Ohio flake turned 45 degrees left is centered on a white spot in the stone and a has a "fish mouth aspect" on its edge like the France handaxe example. 

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