29 May 2015

Arkfeld Site May 23 weekend dig produces a possible anthropomorphic knife and more art and tools to be studied in coming months

Arkfeld site find on May 23 is a knife where, according to Adam Arkfeld, the blade and handle profile may also represent a bearded and capped right human facial profile, looking wizard-like.

Arkfeld Site stone knife

Same side, flipped upside-down

Ken Johnston illustration of the anthropomorphic features described by Adam Arkfeld.

Bird at left recovered in the May 23 dig compares favorably to another Arkfeld site stone bird figure seen at right and featured in an earlier posting on this blog.

This stone may have been collected prehistorically and curated by Arkfeld site people for its simple zoomorphic appearance. It resembles bird forms commonly seen in portable rock art. A petrology examination could be done to check the possibility of a human-made cement being used to fuse three stacked stones together.

Three similar stone forms identified by Adam Arkfeld. These objects resemble mammoth heads and trunks in left profile. With a large number of mammoth figures from this site patterns like this should be considered as possible iterations of the same iconic form.

These three are also possible tool forms without any iconic intent. They all present a pointed working bit and may be considered burins, perhaps used to score bone to access marrow meats. If they were also intended to be mammoth-iconic, the tip of the mammoth's trunk also serves as the working bit of the tool.

Arkfeld Site Menhir (possible standing stone)

Anthropomorphic head boulder with possible human modification to expand eye openings and create a nose channel and a mouth. Perhaps an example of the Paleolithic art motif of "left eye missing with distortion to left side of the face"

A "chain gang" of archaeologists surveys a terrace at The Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia, on May 23, 2015

(Hoh! Ah!)

Site owner Adam Arkfeld examines a freshly rinsed stone

Arkfeld site lead archaeologist Jack Hranicky examines lithic materials on his workbench.

24 May 2015

Day's Knob, Ohio site #33GU218, reports two new figure stone finds

Alan Day find, Day's Knob, Guernsey County, Ohio

"Here are two nice new limestone Figure Stone finds from my site in Ohio, same provenience, roughly 25 cm below the current terrain surface.  In the larger piece, note the incorporation of both utility and imagery that is common at this site." - Alan Day

Alan Day demonstrates the utilitarian aspect of the figure. Day says rock art researcher Mrs. Ursel Benekendorff of Hamburg, Germany, has suggested this pointed end of the sculpture may have been used to plant it in the ground at varying locations.

Ken Johnston interpretation of a bird head mixed in with the female figure

The female figure may also incorporate bird imagery. The bottom of the woman's legs may be seen as the beak of a goose-like flying water bird. There is a circular bas relief "eye" in a more or less anatomically correct position for such a bird figure.

Canada Goose head while in flight


Figure stone number two recently recovered at Day's Knob.

While it may initially appear amorphous, when taken in context with other limestone figures from the site it presents a familiar iconography. Day has confirmed human agency on a number of figures from his site by consulting with a geologic petrologist.

Day's Knob archaeological site location of recent finds

(left) This tiny female figurine comes from 6500 BP. It is found on the Po plain in Northern Italy and measures 6 cm. Thanks to the tapered lower body the figurine can easily be inserted into the ground. The Lady wears a fertility girdle and a red chain. She has short arms and a small head with long hair or a veil. Source: Venus is geen Vamp, Annine van der Meer. Ohio female figure is at right.

(left two panels) The 'Woman with Goitre' from Grimaldi Italy was found between 3 and 4.2 m deep in a layer which is probably the Epigravettian. A radiocarbon date of 14,110+/-150 BP. From Don's Maps. Photo: Randall White, Source: White (2002), Day's Knob, Ohio, USA, artifact at right.

21 May 2015

A smiling cat figure from the Lower Paleolithic at Elmpt, Germany

Elmpt, Germany, finds from the collection of Jan van Es, (52, 28mm)

This artifact is from a geologic context suggesting a date >500,000 years old. This figure seems to have a combination of feline and human qualities. Objects like this may have been hand held props, like puppets, used in dramatic presentations and storytelling.

Manuported, aggregated or lightly worked iconic objects attributed to early humans from the Elmpt, Germany, gravel pit archaeological site worked by Jan van Es. Note that these figures are smaller than 2cm.


Nature delivers stones which were recognized in the past to resemble other things and collected and curated in the human cultural sphere. Unusual concentrations of visually significant or exotic lithic materials must be considered as possible trace evidence of Stone Age human activity.

17 May 2015

Anthropomorphic head pebble from Westlake, Texas, most likely more than a natural coincidence

David Boies find, Westlake, Texas, in a strong portable rock art context.

This pebble has been pecked to produce an oval mouth-like form. Stone has been removed to affect distortion to the left side of the face. I interpret a stone like this as portraying a normal right eye and with an injury to the left side of the face which is compromising the eye socket and the left eye.

As I have speculated in the past, this may depict a lion's bite to the human head as an element of an ancient folktale or the like. This combines two of the earliest memes in Palaeoart, "predator bite to the head" and "one eye open, one eye closed." (James Harrod, originsnet.org) I think the art suggests these two memes may be somehow related for some ancient peoples.

The left eye stone insert

The geologically fresh nature of the stuck pebble in the eye position with its squared edges supports human work rather than natural coincidence for the origin of this feature. The eye socket has also been expanded to accommodate this eye insert. This is seen in other examples from the Boies collection and from North America and Netherlands sites worked by Jan van Es for both eye and tooth features in the art.

In  his book The Nature of Paleolithic Art, R. Dale Guthrie illustrates his interpretation of an engraving found on a portable stone in a French cave which depicts a lion bite to the head. This art motif may describe the source-event for the left eye missing face mask motif.

10 May 2015

Flint human head effigy from Texas

Human head silhouette in re-touch work on a flint flake.
David Boies find, Westlake, Texas

05 May 2015

A sculpture with a bird-man nested among conchoidal fracture flake scars and a bovid and bird together on the edge of a cupule evokes symbolism similar to Lascaux Cave scene

David Boies find, Westlake, Texas. Natural conchoidal thermal fracture flake scars from freezing of the chert practically cover this side of the artifact.

At the center of the cluster of thermal flake scars is the figure of a human face in left 3/4 profile. The interpretation here is "bird-man emerging from egg in a nest of nests." A quasi bird shape left by the frost fractures inspired the artist to add details of the human face to its "breast" as seen in other examples of portable rock art.

Illustration of the sculpted face detected by David Boies

Bird emerging from egg imagery, where the human face depiction is on the belly of the bird.

Side 2 presents a single hemispheric flake scar or natural depression, interpreted as a cupule. This may also be interpreted as the wide open mouth on a human face figure with some surface anomalies serving as eyes and where the whitish band is the approximate hair line of the face.

There is an image of a bovid head on the rim of the cupule "mouth" of the human.

The right eye of the human figure is also a bird figure

The bird may be seen as "perched" on the head of the bovid

Bird perched on the head of a bison, perhaps looking for nesting material, a warm place with a view or lunch, is a fairly common scene in nature.

Lascaux cave, France, scene depicting a bird-man, a bird and an aurochs, ca. 17,300 years before present.

I propose the bird-man, bird and bovid imagery depicted in the Lascaux cave scene and on the Texas sculpture are expressions of related culturally mediated symbol systems found on two continents.

04 May 2015

Flint Ridge Ohio finger axe proportions demonstrate the Golden Ratio of Phi and it features a crystal cluster at its center

Flint Ridge, Ohio, finger ax find by Ken Johnston

The ratio of the width to the length of the finger axe approximates the Golden Ratio of Phi.

John Feliks has written on Phi in the Acheulean: "However, as demonstrated in Figures 2.1 and 2.2, phi does not end as a line. The phi “line” represents only its one-dimensional aspect. Phi was employed in the handaxe technologies of all Acheulian and Mousterian peoples as a “two-dimensional” ratio. This fact makes phi the ratio equally representing the cognition of all post-habilis early human species from ergaster and erectus through heidelbergensis and Neanderthal (its use by modern Homo sapiens is, of course, well known). Phi can also be represented in three and four dimensions including time, and if one is open to such as string theory, a great deal more dimensions useful in cognitive archaeology, as well."

-John Feliks, PHI IN THE ACHEULIAN: LOWER PALAEOLITHIC INTUITION AND THE NATURAL ORIGINS OF ANALOGY

The finger axe is roughly centered on a cluster of quartz crystals which is in a prominently displayed position while the tool is in use as designed.

Reaching for the finger axe

The quartz crystals are prominently featured and sparkle in the sun when the tool is held as designed. It is gripped in the fingers and does not come into contact with the palm. It rests on the hand between the index and middle finger.

The famous Mousterian West Tofts, U.K. handaxe centered on a fossil demonstrates the long tradition of centering on or featuring natural stone features in man made objects.

Side 2. The tool wear edge is seen in the upper left in this view.