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Articles on this Page
- 10/03/13--08:42: _Stonehenge figures ...
- 10/04/13--21:35: _"A piece of slate w...
- 10/06/13--21:06: _Little mammoth figu...
- 10/08/13--09:48: _Luigi Chiapparoli i...
- 10/09/13--14:54: _A bird sculpture wi...
- 10/14/13--03:52: _Minnesota artifact ...
- 10/20/13--06:44: _Art of Homo erectus...
- 10/23/13--08:35: _50 year student of ...
- 10/25/13--06:24: _Sleeping bird figur...
- 10/27/13--09:55: _Thai antiques colle...
- 10/29/13--08:32: _Flint Ridge human h...
- 11/05/13--08:14: _Oregon mammoth head...
- 11/07/13--06:10: _Old Texas collectio...
- 11/08/13--07:39: _Sounds of the Stone...
- 11/13/13--05:09: _Exotic Libyan deser...
- 11/13/13--21:00: _Pecked face on hand...
- 11/14/13--21:00: _Dutch pebble sculpt...
- 11/15/13--21:00: _A quartz bison and ...
- 11/18/13--21:00: _23JP1222 "Lion head...
- 11/21/13--08:07: _From Mekong Delta, ...
- 10/04/13--21:35: "A piece of slate with 7 lines..."
- 10/06/13--21:06: Little mammoth figure with human face icon in bas relief on its side
- 10/29/13--08:32: Flint Ridge human head profile with lips
- 11/08/13--07:39: Sounds of the Stone Age: galop cheval blanc
The Open University
125 years later, these words are very relevant to the new approach required for more thorough and meaningful portable rock art studies:
“… The museums are full of axes, celts, pipes, banner stones, discoidals, hematites, tubes, slate ornaments and ceremonials, pestles, hammers, etc. What the museums need (as of great value to Archaeological Science) are collections from a single locality including everything found in that locality. They want the finds of the village site, the studies in unfinished specimens, the poor and the good, the imperfect as well as the perfect. In this regard, the collectors make a great error. Most of them do not save everything but cling to the ‘pretty relics’ and discard the rough and the rude. Personally, I would give more for a collection, provided it contained all the types, all the finds of a certain valley than for just the fine, perfect objects of that valley. From a collection of the latter, I would be misled, for if I accepted it as indicative of the people of that valley, I would say they made the most beautiful works of aboriginal art, nothing rude or unfinished being turned out by their artisans. In such a statement, I would be unpardonably wrong.”
Warren K. Moorehead, 1884
Jan van Es made these comments and interpretation of this sculpture: "The corpse is in fact of a baby elephant (mammoth of the child). In many sculptures of animals (bear, elephant, bison, etc..) is a portrait by the legs visible. Here I see a man's face by the hind legs. On the side of the belly I see a female form of a symbol of fertility. That's why I think it's a young male animal."
6.8kg, 53cm wide to 33cm tall = ratio of 1.606
Mark Jones of Glen Burnie, Maryland, is a fossil hunter and artifact collector whose figure stone find and interpretation "Kissy Birds" was featured in my first article on this blog. Several other of Mark's finds from Piney Point near the convergence of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay have also been featured. Mark contacted me today regarding a friend's anomalous artifact find from Minnesota. They could see the object had been worked but did not know if it could be a tool, some kind of art, a trail marker, etc. and asked for my opinion on it.
The artifact struck me as having the classic mammoth icon shape seen in other portable rock art sculptures seen on this blog and elsewhere. It appeared to have been chipped along its edge to produce the shape of the rough outline a mammoth. The mammoth is depicted as standing on the ground which is a flat, elongated surface acting as a base for the vertical mammoth figure.
Objects like this can have value to us even as surface finds with what would normally be considered weak archaeological context. Portable rock art can have what I call "self-supporting context," where there is more than one element of the same piece which have "art" attributes and each these elements should be considered as supporting the veracity of the interpretation of the piece as a whole. The mammoth profile and the human face I interpret here would have more limited value if they were the sole potential art elements of a piece. But combined together on the one piece, with physical placement in "correct" position compared to other known forms, they make a most compelling case in support of an art interpretation.
Amateurs will continue to serve up examples on silver platters like this until some good scientist determines it is time to be looking for these kinds of objects in situ. If they do not look, they will not find. I am confident if they do look more closely for art attributes in all stone material at archaeological sites they will find a world of symbolic information left in stone by our ancestors- an art world that can inform us more about our human past than the technological tool sets which are the basis of our current archaeology.
"Although incised cobbles are common at the Gault site, portable art is otherwise rare at early New World localities, and, in either case, this art emphasizes simple geometric patterns rather than the naturalistic portrait style that characterizes much (though not all) of the portable art in the European Upper Paleolithic. Given the difference in the nature of the early portable arts of these hemispheres, there is no reason to expect parallels between their rock art corpora, and good reason to doubt that similarities would exist. Even though there may be occasional examples, early New World art apparently simply did not emphasize (now extinct) megafaunal species, but most likely for cultural reasons rather than due to chronology alone."
Journal of Archaeology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 713159, 15 pages
Rock Art Dating and the Peopling of the Americas
David S. Whitley
The above statement, which also reflects the current consensus of Archaeology regarding figurative portable rock art in America, now stands refuted. -Ken Johnston
like other examples noted by Ken Johnston on this blog.
ORIGIN: WEST AFRICA (Sahara desert), from an old collection.
length : 15.5 cm ( 6.10 inches)
width : 8 cm ( 3.14 inches)
thickness : 5 cm ( 1.96 inches)
made of JASPER with Saharan patina
These kinds of Acheulean "decorated handaxes" have been documented by scholars and amateur archaeologists in Europe for several decades and are predicted to be found in existing archaeological and museum collections if time and care is made to inspect for them. Some of the facial profiles are human and some are animals.
The "fish mouths" interpreted on two artifacts a couple of postings ago were also in this approximate position, hinting that these so-called tools also served as a kind of display frame for expression of symbolic zoomorphic forms.
John Feliks, a co-founder of the Pleistocene Coalition, has demonstrated in a series of falsifiable proofs that homo erectus was highly intelligent and creative:
"Hence, the following advanced cognitive qualities may be quite easily assumed for the species Homo erectus by way of geometric analogy: interrelationship sensitivity and complex organizational skill; language; use of metaphor and hidden meaning; philosophy; mysticism or other “spiritual” perspectives; and a general ability to discern, appreciate, and create the most subtle nuance within any area of intellectual endeavor."
Here is an example of a baboon head depiction I discovered on an Acheulean handaxe from the Île-de-France, along with a human head depiction on the obverse, which was featured in an earlier posting.
Link here to Alan Day's web site Mr. Langeneckert makes reference to
a motif I have interpreted on a 300,000 year old artifact from the Belgian Kempen.
Patterns of iconographic stones like these can emerge from locations which produce tools and other evidence of human presence. They are typically distinct from background lithic material and appear to have been serendipitously natural shaped stones which were collected into the material culture (or curated) and sometimes modified to further enhance the starting form nature had presented.
Aanother example of the animal sculpture forms in the Dennis Boggs collection is this fine "Whale of a Figure stone" featured in an earlier posting.
Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a possible Pan American Giant Sloth head
The same iconic handaxe art tradition is now demonstrated to be found on three continents. It may be a clue to an early human presence in Texas.
Denis Argaut interpretion of a white horse head figure with perforated eye which reproduces the galloping sound of a horse when rocked with a finger. Denis' finds are from near Toulouse with some from the Dordogne.
Watch this video of the "Galloping white horse" pictured above.
With over 15 years of intimate work with stone figures in France, Denis Argaut has come to appreciate the use of light and shadow in the Stone Age sculptures he has studied. Denis is able to take many hours to consider one sculpture in differing light schemes, different times of day, different seasons of the year. His close work with the stone sculptures led to what amounts to a significant discovery in the annals of the history of rock art.
Denis has discovered some horse image figure stones have been engineered to produce the sound of a galloping horse when manipulated in a rocking motion by a human musician. These sound-stones may be thought of as the earliest audio recordings and Denis has discovered how to play them back for us.
This "horse head" comes alive with light passing through its perforated eye as it moves to the sounds of the Stone Age.
This object was collected as Libyan desert glass formed when an asteroid or a comet hit the surface of the earth in this desert zone. It seems very possible this object was recognized as exotic material in the Stone Age and was transformed into a glass sculpture of a head with two eyes and a mouth. A scientific examination of objects such as this should be able to rule in or out the presence of human agency.
Rather than defaulting to a determination of "geofact" status with pareidolia on the part of the modern-day interpreter, archaeological science must actually thoroughly examine each find like this from a non-prejudicial approach. Too much importance rides on the possibility of human agency to write off objects like this as "just rocks." For example, if confirmed to be worked artifacts, iconic objects may be able to direct researchers to locations of archaeological sites or zones, or to the raw materials which were preferred for sculpting.
Mother nature can of course produce objects such as this but this one appears worked and because of the rarity of the material should be considered as an item which could have been modified by the human hand.
8 x 7 cm ( 3.14 x 2.75 inches ), 218 grams, 1090 carats
length : 20,5 cm ( 8.44 inches)
width : 10 cm ( 3.93 inches)
thickness : 4.5 cm ( 1.77inches)
"Acheulean handaxe with pecked face figure"
The smiling face becomes a bit easier to see when the image size is scaled down.
Featured in an earlier post is a water worn example of the one reflective eye pebble mask motif. Faint remnants of added nostrils as engraved divots remain visible. Found near the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay at Piney Point.
Ancient genetic data from Siberia places human lineages from north west Europe there and then into the Americas via the Beringia land bridge. The art of north west Europe could have arrived in Maryland from Asia or via a shorter Atlantic-based population movement. Now some genetic data supports the possibility of a western European component to the peopling of the Americas and offers a possible explanation for some of the similarities shared by the portable rock art objects from the two continents.
This may speak to the universal nature of facial recognition and how distorting just one element can significantly open the possibilities of meaning for the presentation. Maybe the distorted face is a primal image with meaning in the deep brain which is quick to evoke with the just the right visual cues.
Prehistoric Implements: A Reference Book : a Description of the Ornaments ...
Records of the Past, Volume 1
Tira writes: "This is a natural stone without any modification. The small pebble in the eye is also naturally stuck in and quite hard, can not be removed easily. This piece is found in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam area, end of the river before running to the sea. This piece looked like the actor in the movie "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame "