German Dziebel's presentation "Interpreting Archaeological Signatures Before Clovis"

27 August 2014

Pair of eyes completes a face on a Danish flint axe from Silkeborg

Flint axe with human face find by Torben Hedvall, from Silkeborg, Denmark

This axe has been given two eyes to complete a facial image including nose, mouth and chin. The eyes appear to have been at least started using a hollow reed drill and they may have been further worked once the initial grooves were established. This is the second such iconic Neolithic axe identified by Mr. Hedvall.

The ancient artifact has been added to a reconstructed shaft

24 August 2014

Human head figure may place "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" palaeoart motif on the island of Rhodes

Find by Burak Yitgin of Istanbul, Turkey, from the island of Rhodes, Greece

This find resembling a human head figure may also exhibit evidence of human modification to affect the known Palaeoart motif of a human face mask showing "one eye open, other eye shut or missing."  I made markups on the photo in white to illustrate some of the areas which one might investigate.

The area of the left eye appears to have at least four score marks as incised lines to "blank out" the eye. On the left cheek area are two lines terminating at the same point, possibly to express the injury or distortion to the left side of the face seen in other examples of these mask images. The nose and right eye may also have some human modification. Inside the circled area is likely work to define the ear and ear lobe of the sculpture.

An examination of this object by a competent petrologist could identify areas of artificial modification which would confirm this as humanly worked. Even if an all-natural found object, it seems likely it would have been noticed in prehistory on the Island of Rhodes and that Burak Yitgin is not the first person to notice its human likeness.

Right profile of human head figure

Left profile of human head figure found by Burak Yitgin on the island of Rhodes


18 August 2014

Cultures symbolising birds as psychopomps may explain stone bird figures "carrying" human images

 A simple flying bird figure (wings on the down-stroke), Vanport chert, Licking County, Ohio

 Subtle human facial profile facing left

Reverse side of the bird figure

Human facial profile facing right


The exact tip of the human facial profile's nose, from both sides of the stone, has two manufactured divots in the flint presumably to serve as nostrils. This topic has been covered in several postings on this blog, including this one. This detail helps confirm status of an intended bird sculpture here with human imagery on its "tail."

There are several flying bird figures incorporating human imagery which have been featured on this blog. 

It is quite possible birds were thought of as psychopomps, or "soul escorts," into birth and life and/or death and the afterlife, and this may help explain some human and bird combination stone figures.

Flying bird right profile. These bird figures were found in the same area. They do not have any human imagery but provide a bird figure archaeological context.

Side 2

In another orientation the flying bird form becomes a sitting bird. The bird's back is covered with quartz crystals. The bird is standing on its own design.

Side 1 and 2


Even at a chert quarry, limestone is not immune from use to make a bird figure. This is a very unique bird in that it is depicted as flying (beak pointing) to the right on both sides. Both sides are highly related to each other in form. 

Limestone and flint art objects have been completely missed, or forsaken, by Archaeology Officialdom. This needs to change because they are prolific and can tell us much about our past and future.

With scale 

Here is dirty stone figure found about 10 miles from the Flint Ridge find site of the featured artifacts here, along with an illustration of a simple bird figure from Paleolithic Siberia. This was featured in another posting.

A hammerstone and a unifacial blade found among the bird artifacts

The unifacial blade has evidence of work to accommodate hafting to a handle at its base. It was made and struck from a prepared core, similar to Levallois technology. Archaeologist Blaine Ensor has been investigating North American quarry sites with Levallois-like technology he has dubbed "Capps" based on the name of the type site.

(left) This is an example of another human facial profile, also facing right, which has been identified by David Boies of Austin, Texas, and was covered in an earlier posting. The bird form is not visible in this perspective but may be seen at the link. The Flint Ridge artifact is pictured at right. These two artifacts were found at locations 1095 miles apart (1762km).

This is another face as seen on the posterior of a bird figure. It also has a bird form emerging as its nose. Also found by David Boies near Austin, Texas.

17 August 2014

Arkfeld site footprint icon

Adam Arkfeld find, Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK732, among other iconic objects

15 August 2014

Footprint mimetolith became a manuported object

David Boies find, Austin, Texas

This stone resembling a human footprint was found by David Boies in a strong context of other iconic objects. It seems to be an example of a mimetolith, or a natural stone which resembles something else. Because of the find context, it is likely someone in the distant past found it, recognized it and then brought it to the same location where other gathered and manufactured iconic stones have been found. This would make the stone a manuport, or something moved by hand. By the definition I use on this blog, this object also became an artifact when there was a judgement to bring it into the sphere of collected objects which humans surround themselves with.

paper by Bustamante, et al., Search for meanings: from pleistocene art to the worship of the mountains in early China. Methodological tools for Mimesis.

Abstract

Bednarik (2009) described the Makapansgat jasperite cobble, a stone shaped as a human face deposited 2.5 to 3 million years ago. Tsao et al. (2006) demonstrated that face perception is a crucial skill to primates, humans and macaque monkeys. Applying two methodological tools of the EntornoArchaeology - Psychological and Geographical Entorno-, may allow to understand the process that probably led the Pleistocene humans to sacralize rocks -Mimetoliths- and objects -Mimetomorphs- with natural forms that resembled animals or human beings, in increasing scale, from small rocks, big rocks, mountains and Mountainous ranges, in the early Chinese culture, where we have found that three mythological characters: Pan-Gu (盘古), Fu-Xi (伏羲) and Shen-Nong (神农), probably were sacralized mountains.

Mimesis, by the psychological phenomena of Pareidolia, Apophenia and Hierophany (The PAH triad), might explain the many instances when humans between Pleistocene and early chinese culture attributed religious significance or extraordinary connections to ordinary imagery and subjects. On the other hand, Mimetoliths and Mimetomorphs might contribute to explain the origins of Palaeoart, animism and religion.

13 August 2014

Île d'Oléron, France, bust of "one-eye open, other eye shut or missing" motif has American and German analogs

Henri Valentie find, Île d'Oléron, France, 39cm /17cm and 23cm thick, pink sandstone

The "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" art motif originated in the Lower Paleolithic about 500,000 years ago and persisted for hundreds of thousands of years. It would seem impossible for such continuity of a cultural tradition if we did not have the example of the Acheulean handaxe technology which persisted for about one million years.

Right profile view of the bust

Here is a view of the left side of the face with mark ups added. The line extending from the left eye of the face is a ground gouge made in the stone to represent a distortion or wound. This is commonly seen in this motif. The peak of the human's head here may also be interpreted as a possible representation of the profile of a mammoth, as seen in the posting just prior to this one. (Click photos to expand).

Flint Ridge, Ohio, human bust with arrow pointing to manufactured line of distortion along the left side of the face. A round feature like an eyeball appears out of its socket on the cheek of the figure.

One eye shut bust from the collection of Ursel Benekendorff. Photo Copyright (c) Ursel Benekendorff, All Rights Reserved. This bust is dated to c. 500,000 years old. A sea urchin fossil serves as the closed left eye of the German bust.

12 August 2014

Alabama sleeping duck figure has human face mask depiction

Lisa Deason find, Lee County, Alabama, here interpreted as a "sleeping duck" figure. Another sleeping duck figure and a face depiction similar to the one below were featured earlier on this blog.

Lisa identified a human face depiction on this stone. The portion of the figure "above the eyes" is here interpreted as a profile of a mammoth facing left, where the bump of the mammoth's head is the peak of the human forehead. This motif is seen in other examples on this blog.

11 August 2014

Bird figure backs as lithic workbenches

Water bird figure facing left with tool bit protruding from back

Ken Johnston find, Licking County, Ohio.
This is the reverse side with bird figure facing right now.

These two artifacts were found together at Flint Ridge and I have interpreted them as bird figures whose backs were used as small lithic workbenches perhaps similarly to examples originally described by Jan van Es of Roermond, The Netherlands. 

Both of these birds' backs is carrying a load of quartz crystals which have been worn down by grinding wear. One of the figures presents a cradling cup-like concave surface which has been smoothed from use and the other presents a convex quartz crystal formation with a protruding wear bit. Both figures have unusually flat bases which are stable under movement and pressure. They were found together at an ancient chert quarry and workshop site at Flint Ridge, Glenford, Ohio, and are essentially the same size.

Ken Johnston find, Licking County, Ohio. Interpreted as a bird with well defined wing facing right and another creature with an eye, perhaps a bird, facing left.

The dip seen on the back of the bird here is a cluster of quartz crystals which has been worn down

The two Licking County, Ohio, artifacts with scale



03 August 2014

A multi-colored flint and quartz crystal lion head figure stone

Lion head figure stone
Ken Johnston find, Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio. 8cm wide.

An illustration indicating the interpreted feline head and neck form. A large cluster of quartz crystals serves as the eye of the lion head figure.

02 August 2014

Angular nature of some stone material forces Cubism-like constraints on prehistoric artists as well as modern-day interpreters

Ken Johnston find, Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio. Interpreted as a left human facial profile.

Moving viewing perspective to the left to see a "straight-on" view of the face. An interpreted tongue for this perspective has been highlighted in red. The eye circled at left in the photo above is composed of an excavation of stone to create a bas relief triangular eye in its socket.

There are two ground nostril divots in the quartz crystals which I have circled in the photo above. The stone material does not allow addition of the nostrils in the representative position for a nose profile as illustrated in the drawing at left. With the nostrils skewed to the right of the nose profile image, they also work as the viewing perspective on the sculpture moves to the right. 

This Vanport chert sculpture stands upright on a flat base in correct orientation to present this human facial profile. Eyes, nose, mouth, chin, forehead and ear embellished on a serendipitous natural form probably encountered in tool-stone procurement activities at Flint Ridge.

Side 2 with scale

Three perspectives on this sculpture. (Click photo to expand.) The highly angular nature of the chert material here requires a change of interpretive visual attention from our contemporary sensibilities. Rather than looking for accurate representation, we must use an almost "low resolution" focus to allow us to see the possible larger forms which may seen when the excruciating details of the rock are ignored. For me, this often requires taking one or several steps back from an artifact or a photo, and maybe squinting my eyelids a bit to appreciate the forest despite the trees (and branches and roots!)