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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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    Texas incised stone found in an archaeological context by an amateur archaeologist

    This find in Texas was interpreted as a tool but may be an example of straight edge use in a European Paleolithic marking tradition as seen in Germany and described by John Feliks in his paper "The Graphics of Bilzingsleben." Lower Paleolithic art and language traditions may have persisted for tens of thousands of years or people in North America could have independently developed their own marking schemes.  

    Amateurs find incised stones frequently but there is little or no consideration of potential symbolic meaning for the engavings. My hope is that the symbolic possibilities of stone markings will eventually be included in the hypotheses developed for objects like this in North America.

    Texas incised stone

    "In, On and Infinity," a geometric interpretation of convergent and divergent incised lines by Ken Johnston
    Having read some of John Feliks' work about Paleolithic engraved stones, I looked at this stone and could see the first line converging with the second, the second converging with the third farther out and the third line not converging with the fourth with the fourth line angled away so as not to converge with the other lines. When I made an illustration to see what this looked like if I continued the lines, it seemed quite possible this rock was a kind of exogram, containing a recording of geometric and possibly symbolically existential ideas.

    As illustrated above these concepts could be described as: In (lines converge inside the stone perimeter), On (lines converge near the edge of the stone) and Infinity (lines never converge). These kinds of concepts are introduced in Feliks' work and it seemed I could develop a potential symbolic meaning for this Texas stone based on those concepts. It was quite strange when I saw the stone and it had this meaning, I felt as if I was intuitively reading a concept in a language Feliks had enabled me to recognize. Maybe more objects like this will come to light and show this possible 4 line pattern is more than a one-time chance occurrence.

    Amateur and professional archaeologists in North America should avail themselves of the information available from other parts of the world and other temporal periods in order to have a broader range of possibilities in interpreting the meaning of incised portable rocks here.

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    Mike Raver find, Muskingum County, Ohio

    Mike Raver of Zanesville, Ohio, has discovered about a dozen sites in his locale along the Muskingum River which he interprets as producing portable rock art figures and sculptures. This is a non-glaciated area but the Wisconsin glacier Scioto lobes came within tens of miles and the area was subject to being part of the glacial melt water river systems as the glacier retreated northward in the final Pleistocene.

    Ohio "nostrils" (left) Maryland "nostrils" (right)

    The face mask figure from Ohio seems to have similarly incised "nostril divots" as this stone from the Mark Jones collection, Maryland.

    Nose and nostril representations added to stone figures seem to be used to disambiguate the face and might reflect a desire to add or recognize a symbolic "breath of life" in these objects. This may be a clue to an animistic world view held by the makers where all the world, even the rocks, are considered to be alive.

    Artistic conventions like nostril elements may be used to help assess the probabilities of human modification made to iconic portable rock objects.

    Ohio (left) and Thailand (right) stone face mask figures

    Mike Raver of Zanesville, Ohio, notes a similarity between his Ohio pebble face mask figure and this Stone face mask discovered from the cave near Kanchanaburi, Thailand, featured in an earlier posting

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    One-eyed face stone sculpture has human and feline qualities from Luigi Chiapparoli collection, site at Montarsolo, Italy. Photo by independent rock art researcher Luigi Chiapparoli.

     Montarsolo, by Luigi Chiapparoli, High Trebbia River valley

    The Italian sculpture from Montarsolo may be an example of therianthropy, where human and animal features are combined in one creature, like the famous Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel

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     Bison in left profile, Chris Schram find and interpretation, Westminster, Colorado


    Illustration of interpreted features of the bison

    J E. Musch theory of standardization of bear and bison icons may be seen in Chris Schram's Colorado examples and explain the potential of "vagueness" produced by the template-like figurative forms in portable rock art. No individual art object is required to look just like the real-life figure, it just has to meet the visual trigger points to alert the viewer to the intended meaning within the understood design scheme.

    Illustration © J. E. Musch. Musch, J. E. (1987). Beestachtig en Beregoed (deel 1). Archaeologische Berichten 18:108-129. Elst, NL. Page 120. From originsnet.org

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    MANKIND'S OLDEST SHRINE DISCOVERED IN SPAIN
    By TOM FERRELL

    American and Spanish scientists have reported finding the earliest intact religious sanctuary from the early Stone Age at El Juyo Cave, an archeological site in northern Spain near the seaport city of Santander.

    The scientists said they believe the sanctuary was built 14,000 years ago, which would make it mankind's oldest known religious shrine. Other than burial sites, the previous oldest known shrines are in the Middle East and are about 9,000 years old.

    The El Juyo sanctuary contains a free-standing sculptured stone head, interpreted by the scientists as that of a supernatural being. On one side of the sculpture is the visage of a human being, and on the other is that of an animal, probably a cat.

    Scholars had long hoped to find evidence that would clearly show the existence of religious behavior or ritual in the Paleolithic Era. Cave paintings, decorated artifacts and burial offerings, many archeologists believe, suggest religious belief but in many cases may have alternative interpretations.

    The El Juyo sanctuary, details of which were published this summer by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and by the History of Religion, an American journal, was discovered by Dr. Leslie G. Freeman and Dr. Richard G. Klein, both anthropologists at the University of Chicago; by Dr. J. Gonzalez Echegaray, director of the Altamira Museum and Research Center in Santillana, Spain, and by Dr. I. Barandiaran of the University of Santander.

    The excavation was financed by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and the United States National Science Foundation. The site has been known since 1957 as the home of a late Paleolithic culture called Magdalenian III, which flourished about 14,000 years ago. The sanctuary occupied about 120 square feet just inside the mouth of the cave.

    A shallow trench was found in the center of the complex, containing animal bones, new and unused spearheads and other artifacts. Atop the trench was a mound about 30 inches high that contained similar ''offerings of bones, spearheads and other artifacts, Dr. Freeman said, alternating with layers of carefully arranged rosettes of earth.

    ''It was as if the builders had scooped earth into small cups or buckets about 4 inches across, and then inverted them on top of the mound,'' Dr. Freeman said yesterday in a telephone interview. ''One circle of earth was in the center, surrounded by six more circles, their edges just touching.''

    The mound itself was plastered over with a clay shell, and above this was a horizontal limestone slab 71 inches long, 47 inches wide and 6 inches thick, Dr. Freeman said, adding that the slab weighed nearly a ton.

    The sculpture, 14 inches tall, was placed on a smaller mound facing the cave entrance, he said. A natural vertical fissure of the rock was used to divide the stone face into two parts: on one side, the half-face of a man with a moustache and beard; on the other, the half-face of a carnivore, most likely a lion or a leopard, with muzzle, whiskers and a single pointed tooth.

    The conclusion that the site is a religious sanctuary rests on several factors, Dr. Freeman said. Noting that a sanctuary is defined as a place where some kind of collective sacred behavior takes place, he said the collectivity was demonstrated by the large stone.

    ''Given the amount of work required to move the limestone slab, at least 10 to 15 individuals must have participated in building the sanctuary,'' he said. ''It was a group undertaking, and that suggests a shared system of group beliefs.''

    Dr. Freeman conceded that ''there could be a lot of collectively built monuments one wouldn't call ritual, if you can explain them as having some kind of technical economic use,'' and noted that many arrangements of large stones, in Europe and elsewhere, were clearly designed for the observation of astronomical events.

    ''But El Juyo is not explicable in economic terms,'' Dr. Freeman said. ''There's a whole lot of effort going on, none of which is visible after the structure is built. It is not economic activity.

    ''A final element in the definition of a sanctuary would be that these activities have to be designed to influence a culturally postulated supernatural being,'' the anthropologist said. ''There is a figure here, the stone sculpture. At a distance it looks like a human face, but when you get closer you find that it's got two natures, the human and the animal.''

    The divided face of the sculpture, Dr. Freeman suggests, might have been meant to ''represent an awareness among the group of the difference between what is animal and what is human, and at the same time a fusion of the savage, instinctive side of life with the human, more culturally ordered side.''

    In the 32 years since the New York Times article was written, older religious sanctuaries have been identified and described at originsnet.org. The "one eyed face mask" portable rock art meme has been described in Lower and Middle Paleolithic contexts, and in the United States, and is not always associated with split human/animal depictions as is speculated to be the case here.

    Pietro Gaietto illustration (http://www.museoorigini.it) of the interpreted human/animal characteristics of the stone face carving from El Juyo cave, near Santander, Spain.

    Mark Jones find, Piney Point, Maryland, in context of many "one open, one eye shut" stone figures (left) compared to El Juyo stone face (right). Both faces have similar "nostril divots."

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    Dennis Boggs collection, Irrigon, Oregon

    Carved "one eye missing" face portrait, depicted as smiling and looking to the left, Dennis Boggs portable rock art Collection, Irrigon, Oregon. The right eye is depicted as a small, precise element and the left eye is depicted as a large, distressed, empty area. Rather than artistic foreshortening, the left eye may be carved in the tradition of the "one eye ope, other eye shut or missing" motif seen in Europe and the United States.

    This pebble is the size of a US quarter dollar coin and speaks tot he need to carefully examine all stone material from archaeological sites for work patterns outside the normal tool typologies.

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    Artifact from Kostenki I site, Don River valley Russia
    Source: Arctic Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1970), pp. 129-136

    An object from Seneca County, Ohio, on display in the "Field Finds" contest case at the recent state wide meeting of the Archaeological Society of Ohio had some striking similarities to the artifact pictured above from Russia. It was labeled "See the face? (It's a joke)." I explained to the finder that it may not be a joke, that he might have an example of an intentionally worked stone. When I told him the two nostrils and mouth appeared to have been added (carved) into the stone he mentioned that someone else at the meeting had made the very same observations and comments to him. I provided my card and he indicated he would email some photos of the object but they have not yet arrived.

    I received a note last week from a blog reader and it raises an important issue. The "natural looking" aspect of much of the suspected portable rock art identified by amateurs does seem to lead to prompt dismissal of claims of artificiality and precludes qualified scientific examination of the material.

    "Hello Ken,

    I regularly watch your updates, and this is very interesting reading your articles. In some cases, like in the last post, I have my doubts about  human modification of the stone. Of course I do not know how this rock behaves, is it soft, or is it hard, but from what I see it looks so natural and not at all carved.

    In such case, I would not say it has no meaning for anthropogenic origins such as being a brought in stone (manuport), but the modification by humans I can either detect on the surface of this stone ( how would you make eyes on  hard surface? Using a pointed stone, it must be very small, carving of stones usual have been found back on stone types like lydite and sandstones)...

    At the Oregon pebble I do not see any differences in the natural bending lines at the surface and the eyes/ mouth. If there would exist a possibility to carve such small pebbles / small stones, I am very interested in how they did it. Has this been done by experiments?

    Maybe I just look wrong and cannot see the right technique. In my own observations of man-made modification, there is usually always a difference in the starting material and the modificated part, i.e. the surface looks different ( more dull, more smooth or more shiny, etc...). I am wondering why this is not the case on the presented rock art pieces.

    - but this would not indicate the piece could not have been recognised as a man-s face and served as a manuport... ( to my opinion)

    Meanwhile I continue with the search for Palaeolithic artifacts and besides of the recognition of some archaeologists in France, this  is also a subject of discussion. But so is archaeology, which makes it very interesting...!

    With my regards,

    Jimmy"

    I am not able to answer all of Jimmy's questions as I often ask the same questions myself. The claim of "carving" of the stone in the last posting is made based on the assessment of the finder and then myself based on our experience with suspected worked art material, the context of the find, its possible expression of a known portable rock art motif (one eye-open, other eye shut or missing) and possible use of a small stone inclusion as the right "eye" which is seen in other suspected examples. It is a sum of our personally developed knowledge based on amateur field experience and the work of many others who have been investigating this subject in Europe and the U.S. for many years.

    On this blog I am calling for scientific scrutiny of these similar observations of amateurs, including myself, to generate interest that might bring needed expertise and resources to suspected portable rock art art objects. I have not attempted experiments to duplicate the exact art technologies because they are not known and not accepted as legitimate and I'm a rather poor artist. I think microscopic work must be completed to prove the phenomena exists, it needs to be found in situ, duplicated in situ, then artisans and replicators might determine the lithic materials and techniques used in production of iconic portable rock art. Flintknapper Bob Doyle of Maine has does some art duplication in the "old world" style in chert material.

    Here is some work which may inform amateurs and professionals alike on this important topic. From the paper "Polyikonic Sculpture from the Upper Paleolithic Site of Kostenki I."


    "...in a series of cases, a surface which appeared to us untouched or natural, in actuality had traces of human handiwork (incisions and scratches) on it."
    Source: Arctic Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1970), p. 136


    Flint and crystal rabbit figure found by Ken Johnston at Flint Ridge, Ohio, was thought to be a geofact by a university lithics specialist but was recognized as an artifact by a top flint knapper very familiar with the Vanport Formation of chert there.

    Two iconic flint objects I identified from Licking County, Ohio, were inspected by a senior archaeological lithics technician at a United States university. She determined they were not intentionally worked by humans but were the coincidental result of the chaotic forces of nature. When I showed the same two objects to Mr. Chris MiIller (Ohio) who to my understanding is regarded as a "Top 5" flint knapper in the world, he confirmed both were indeed artifacts and proceeded to explain how he made that determination. Mr. Miller said he and others who search for knappable quality chert at Flint Ridge, Ohio, were well aware of figures of "caribou, rabbits and people" which could be found in unnatural numbers on the ridge. I have learned to give more weight to expertise like Chris's than to the typical university lab.

    There is strong desire among archaeologists, both amateur and professional, for portable rock art to be and look the way they expect it to be, or the way they think it should be. In a science, such personal bias and preferences must be dropped. Under proper and needed scrutiny, the suspect material itself will tell us how it came to be. Art is in the eye of the beholder and we are not the beholders of this ancient art. We are merely given these rare opportunities to have a small glimpse into the material life of Stone Age peoples and when we demand it be like the art we already know, we miss this entire supra-class of artifacts which can tell more about the lives of ancient peoples than anything else which remains to be found of them.

    The "Oregon carved pebble" in the last posting and many others are available for further investigation. If intended iconography were to be confirmed on a quarter dollar sized pebble from Irrigon, Oregon, it might open a can of worms for North American Archaeology. It's time for those more brave and less squeamish to tackle this line of inquiry with the expertise and resources it deserves. Until then, amateurs will continue making and sharing their observations.

    Source for images seen here:
    Polyikonic Sculpture from the Upper Paleolithic Site of Kostenki I
    Author(s): E. E. Fradkin and Richard G. Klein
    Source: Arctic Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1970), pp. 129-136
    Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
    Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40315747 .

    (click to expand view)

    Link to Pleistocene Coalition News

    (PLEASE SEE 3 RECEIVED COMMENTS)

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    Illustration of a "Stone head" from the Paleolithic site at Siberdik, Russia

    This stone head places the "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" Paleolithic art motif in Beringia, which may be evidence of its continuity into North America.

    Image source:
    Early Art of the Northern Far East - The Stone Age
    By M.A. Kiyiyak, Translated by Richard L. Bland
    page 48, (Excavations of N. N. Dikov).
    published by the Shared Beringia Heritage Program, U.S. National Park Service

    One of many North American examples of  "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" motif from the Dennis Boggs collection, Irrigon, Oregon. Despite its "natural looking" appearance to many people, I argue such examples were in fact "retouched" after desirable natural forms were found by Stone Age artisans. 

    Archaeologists must concede they do not already know everything about ancient technologies which may have been used to carve, incise, sculpt, shape, break and otherwise remove or alter stone surfaces.

    If examined by unbiased and highly qualified lithic scientists, I am confident many, if not most, examples like this will reveal aspects of deliberate human agency. Even when they are "just manuported geofacts," I argue they are no less significant to the development of archaeological knowledge. 

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    Ohio portable rock art "One-eyed lion head" is one of several North American examples

    One-eyed lion head, found in context of dozens of feline figures from the Mahoning River valley, Canfield, Ohio. Find and interpretation by Allen Deibel, part of his "Stone cat collection." Canfield is just 54 miles from the famous Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, with human presence dated to 19,000 to 16,000 years ago.

    This ceramic lion head from Dolní Věstonice, Czech Republic, was interpreted by Ken Johnston as depicted with a missing left eye. The right eye on the figure is a circle with the eye element in slight relief, the left eye is depicted as an empty space.

    With the possibility of "back migrations" from North America to Eurasia, we do not know where motifs common to both continents originated, or if they originated together when the Beringia land bridge was open. Beringia has been open to migration of animals and people for 200,000 of the last 500,000 years.

    Quartz figure of human head in left profile found by Allen Diebel, Canfield, Ohio, was featured in an earlier posting on this blog. This head has a "Neanderthal-like" appearance with no chin.

    AUTHOR NOTE ON FIELD FINDS: Amateur archaeologists and artifact hunters like Allen Diebel and myself cannot go just anywhere and find "rocks that look like things (mimetoliths)." Having been presented with many opportunities to search stone, cobble and pebble rock material which was not likely associated with any prior human context yields zero suspected portable rock art finds. If a reader is of the mind that these are just rocks that people could find anywhere, anytime, with just a little imagination, I challenge you to go find one, better one that looks like it might have been worked, better two similar iconic stones which have been worked, then two in immediate proximity, then a third from a nearby site. The chances of these objects being a function of natural chaos dissipates when reason, common sense and statistical analysis are applied to the archaeological interpretations. The key is the ability to access the paleosols which contain the lithic remains of the peoples who practiced these art traditions. Remember conversely, the art may used to identify the paleosols which could contain other evidence of early human activity, including tool forms which have not been recognized to date.

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    Is it a worked face mask in agate from Brazil?

    A rock collector in Thailand acquired this piece of Brazilian agate at a geology fair in Tucson, Arizona. It was interpreted as a "Phantom of the Opera" type face mask by Tira Vanichtheeranont who thought it might be interesting to blog readers here.

    It appears it could have been worked to realize a human head icon with the "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" motif as seen in Eurasia and North America. The stone's rind, or cortex, looks to have been selectively removed on the left side of the face.


    Are the small indents on the back side of the mask icon created by nature or human grinding on the stone?

    This may be a grinding technique to remove most of the stone's cortex (decortification) from this side in order to expose the beauty and translucence of the agate material. This would open up the back of stone to transmit light to the front in the case this piece was a manufactured "lithophane" (Johnston 2011) as is seen in similar material and one-eyed motif from the Dennis Boggs Oregon collection as presented earlier on this blog.

    It seems possible small ground holes like this were used to remove stone on the face mask side of the stone, then smoothed down by broader grinding to remove the remaining ridges. Evidence of the ground holes may be seen in the surface "rippling" of the figure's mouth and left side of the "nose."


    Compare Brazil (left) and Oregon, USA, (right)

    Please compare the imagery on the Brazilian object to this suspected artifact with the "one eye open, other eye closed or missing" motif from the Dennis Boggs collection, Irrigon, Oregon.

    Hamburg-Wittenbergen, Germany, c. 200,000 BP (Clactonian)

    Photographer © Walther Matthes. Matthes, W. (1969). Eiszeitkunst im Nordseeraum. Otterndorf, Gr: Niederelbe-Verlag; (1964/1965). Bild 62. From originsnet.org

    Thank you Tira for sending along this fascinating object from Brazil.

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    "Face mask hand axe"
    From Verberie, OISE (60north, Paris France), 11 x 6 cm--4.2 x 2.3 in.
    ca. 300,000 to 40,000 BP

    This French Mousterian hand axe has been worked to incorporate imagery of the "one eye open, other eye closed or missing" motif on this side and a subtle human facial profile on the obverse side. An inclusion in the stone serves as the right "eye" and the maker of the hand axe has retained a part of the stone's cortex as the left "eye" and the "nose." The result is a "face mask hand axe."

    Side 2: It should not be difficult for archaeologists and collectors to identify potential iconographic objects among their artifacts if time is taken to examine them very closely. I would consider my interpretation of a face on the edge here as "weak" but the relative clarity of intent of the maker to invoke the "one eye" motif make it worth reporting the observation here.

    Side 2 may also have a "face mask" representation

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    Nadia found this 3cm bird in a context of many other portable rock art finds

    "Lithic cultural debris" from a one foot square area in Nadia Clark's yard in Prescott, Arizona

    From the one foot square

    This kind of material is not a part of the natural stone background found in Nadia's locale. It is found by Nadia in concentrations which indicate they are human deposits. Upon close examination these stones have been shaped or shaped by use wear and may represent the kind of "pre-Clovis" stone tool material archaeologists should be looking for in the search for the earliest Americans. Early peoples in America may not have used bifacial flint knapping technology but may have used bone tools and bone spear tips which have not survived time. Their other implements may have been expedient natural forms like these and the presence of iconographic material like these small bird sculptures supports the idea of a human source for the deposits.

    Two other stone bird figures identified by artist - turned amateur archaeologist, Nadia Clark. Nadia's finds are geographically very close to finds seen in the recent posting of other stone figures identified by Duane in Prescott, Arizona.

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    Jan van Es, The Netherlands

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    Sculpture of human head left profile combined with one-eyed skull depiction

    Ken Johnston interpretation of human head looking left

    Ken Johnston interpretation of human skull looking straight on. The skull is depicted as missing its mandible or jaw bone. The right eye of the human looking left becomes the left eye of the "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" skull.

    In this illustration the one-eyed skull image is isolated

    A human skull with a red line demonstrating maxilla without upper teeth

    Here is another example of a jawless skull depicted on a human head sculpture, part of the seven sculpture hoard discovered by Ken Johnston on the shore of a former glacial swamp, Licking County, Ohio. Like the Missouri example, the skull is depicted as having a symbolic missing left eye expressed as a larger open area like that of an empty eye socket. The red line markup in the photo represents the toothless maxilla.

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    David Boies find, Westlake, Texas

    A representation of the figure's right eye may be seen in the eye socket. The left eye is depicted differently, suggesting a closed, damaged or missing eye. The left side of the figure's face is distorted as is seen in so many other examples and the mouth is given an emotional expression by selective removal of a hunk of stone from the lower left side of the face.

    The figure stone has been given two nostrils by the Stone Age artist. This may be symbolic of the artist's desire to "animate the stone with the breath of life."


    "My name is David Boies and I have studied Native Americans and their cultures for over forty years. As any portable rock art enthusiast will attest, trying to get the academic world to look at something in a different way is difficult at best and impossible when you propose something altogether new. The people that carved these were very skilled craftsmen and excellent artisans with a deep reverence for nature. These artifacts hold an immense amount of knowledge to be gleaned by the professionals but getting them to admit they exist is the first step."

    These kinds of small figure stones have been well documented by archaeologist Jan van Es of The Netherlands. Jan has shared many photographs with me over a few years and I can say this figure stone has very remarkable similarity to the Dutch material from the Lower and Middle Paleolithic sites he has worked. Many of Jan's photos may be seen in postings on this blog.

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    This stone has an appearance reminiscent of a perched bird. Such similarities would not have gone unnoticed among our ancestors. Acheulean, est. 600,000 to 100,000 BP. Sahara Desert, North Africa. This piece is 5.5" long, 3.25" wide, over 1.5" thick and weighs 20 ounces. 

    The bird form with a natural beak inspired the toolmaker-artist to prepare the stone with a sharp edge on the beak, creating a graver, and remove additional stone likely to help accommodate the grip of a hand.

    Flint Ridge, Ohio, bird sculpture is a tool with a yellow beak-graver and an excurvate knife at the crest of its head

    Flint Ridge, Ohio, tool in the form of a bird figure

    Bird form gravers: Oregon example at left, Ohio example at right

    Licking County, Ohio: Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a coarse stone tool with a sharp edge fashioned as the head of a turkey vulture. The nostril accurately represents the one on the real bird.

    Possible symbolism with these bird beak tools may recognize the bird's beak as the "tool" it uses to emerge from its egg.

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    Identified as a mammoth sculpture by Stacy Dodd. From 23JP1222, "The Old Route 66 Zoo" site near Joplin, Missouri, Rod Weber, landowner. This is the second mammoth sculpture from "The Zoo" featured on this blog.

    This artifact presents a fairly simple "big picture" icon of a mammoth form where the entire perimeter of the stone in this view resembles the profile of a mammoth- in a seemingly simple cookie-cutter outline. This art object depicts two extinct Pleistocene creatures, mammoth and lion.

    Missouri Archaeological Inventory site OR66Z "The Old Route 66 Zoo" This amateur discovered archaeological site has produced many dozen examples of deliberately worked iconographic flint and limestone objects and is available for professional archaeological investigation. It is a Paleoart megasite which is not getting the attention it deserves from investigators. It presents a unique opportunity for someone's archaeological project, thesis or dissertation.

    (click photos to toggle and compare original to markup)

    Faint lines faded with age in the soil can still be detected and define the body of the lion interpreted by Ken Johnston, including rear leg and tail. The definition of the lion's body has been etched into the stone. Several art pieces with this motif have been seen on this blog, enough to establish "lion atop mammoth/human/bison" as recurring depictions in United States portable rock art.

    Labels of the worked stone features composing the lion head image

    Lion's head looking right. This is a depiction of the now extinct American Lion, Pantera leo atrox. Actual size in microsculpture is about 2cm.

    Reconsruction of now extinct American Lion head as depicted in stone above

    Some early Americans may have had paradoxical relationships with lions, where humans lived in constant vigilance against predation and surprise attacks by lions while at the same time being dependent on lion kills of fauna to leave flesh and marrow meats behind the humans could expolit for nutrition.

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    Early Acheulean human from the Beegden archaeological site, Jan van Es, 6km west of Roermond, The NetherlandsSuspected to be an  image by Homo erectus.

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    Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a horse head sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo site, 23JP1222, Jasper County, Missouri. From a dense context of iconographic artifacts identified by Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber as seen on this blog. Mammoth, horse and bison were favorite fauna for Paleolithic hunters in North America and portable rock art images of all have been identified from this Missouri archaeological site.

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    Fish figure collected and identified by Shelly Kaye, Upper Rogue River, Oregon


    This figure was found outside of any supportive context but recognized as a "fish" by Shelly. The imagery compares favorably to the 2nd of the three fish from Siberia in the illustration below. Even though not from an archaeological context which could be detected by the finder, objects such as this may provide other ways to indicate artificiality. 
    Illustration of Siberian example

    This Oregon figure has a dark spot as the eye which may be evidence of pigment application as is seen in other portable rock art examples. Perhaps these residues can be tested. It may be that something similar to a "birch bark resin manufacturing process" was used to develop the pigment which would confirm this as an artifact. Birch bark resin was used by Neanderthals for glue and is thought to be the earliest synthetic material made by humans identified to date. Eyes are also made by grinding on stones or exploiting natural stone inclusions.



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