25 May 2016

Arkfeld site bird figure and handaxe found together today should further embarrass the Virginia State Archaeologist

'Bird figure'
Adam Arkfeld find, Clear Brook, Virginia

This is one of many bird figures from the Arkfeld site. This bird figure went from the ground to this blog feature in the matter of a few hours.



Side 2, Adam Arkfeld "flips the bird to the Archaeology establishment"

Handaxe, 20cm, found in direct association with the bird


Thinness with an edge on the Virginia handaxe

Archaeological Society of Virginia, September 2015 newsletter, From the Office of the State Archaeologist, Michael B. Barber, Ph.D., editorial on the Arkfeld site. 

(click photos to expand view of editorial)


Dr. Barber has done the citizens of Virginia a disservice by characterizing an observant, well-intended, landowner and a long-time professional archaeologist as perpetuating a "hoax." Really, Dr. Barber? For shame.

In fact, hundreds of tool and art artifacts have been recovered from this site, #44FK0731, and are available for public inspection at any time. Many have been seen on this blog with great interest and respect from a world-wide audience.

Maybe someday Dr. Barber can come to learn why this smear job is no better than the pseudoarchaeology he claims to police and why apologies and an official correction are due to Messrs. Arkfeld and Hranicky and the people of Virginia.

I interpret the bird figure in this posting to be a 'crow.'

24 May 2016

Morris County, Kansas, pipestone artifact could be a mammoth head figure including a trunk with depiction of "digitiform processes"

Morris County, Kansas, pipestone, Stauffer-Allison collection, 32cm

Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a possible mammoth head figure including a trunk with a depiction of two "digitiform processes," finger-like appendages known to be be a part of mammoth anatomy.

Illustration from National Geographic magazine. Modern elephant, top, woolly mammoth, bottom. The mammoth trunk fingers are seen in illustration above the number 1. Plotnikov et al., 2015.

"For example, the end of Yuka’s trunk had two finger-like projections that were longer than those of modern elephants. These “digitiform processes” are thought to have afforded mammoths a finer grip on the grasses they grazed on as they trundled over the frigid steppe."

23 May 2016

They're "More like a Beatles' Tune:" Another Acheulean handaxe from the Maghreb with a human face profile on its mid right edge

Acheulean handaxe from Mauratania, in north west Africa

The pattern of human face profiles on the mid-right edges of some Acheulean handaxes argues for them being "More Like a Beatles' Tune Than a Bird's Song," to invoke the analogies from a recent paper on the subject.

To some people of the past, handaxes were more than just functional items. These faces are simple and very old but the observable pattern of their presence on many handaxes indicates a broad geo-temporal world art tradition.

The incorporation of human facial profiles seems to be a strong indicator of a culturally-mediated behavior in handaxe manufacture rather than a largely neurologically based one. 


Illustration of the interpreted human face profile. The pattern I have observed has the faces in this same position or just a bit higher. It is unlikely the behavior to 'animate' the handaxes in this way was hardwired in the brain (like a bird's song) and it must have had a symbolic significance to the presumed Homo erectus, Homo ergaster or Homo heidelbergensis makers of these items.

With scale.

There may a second human face profile above the lower one which has a smiling face looking to the upper right. The mouths of the two interpreted human face profiles are illustrated in red color.


16 May 2016

A quartz crystal figure stone in the 'Sleeping Duck' motif from the Columbia River valley in Oregon

From the Dennis Boggs collection of tools, art and exotic imported stone material at Irrigon, Oregon.

Interpretation by Ken Johnston, curator of the Boggs collection. Because of the glacial lake Missoula flooding in the area, a maximum age of about 13,000 years may be assumed for this material. The duck figure sits on a designed tripod base. There is a manufactured 'eye' and 'split tail feathers'. Numerous figures in this motif have been featured on this blog.

The stone's cortex, or rind, visible here has not been worked. The more white area above it has been worked to remove stone.


Sleeping duck figure's translucence under differing natural sunlight conditions

This find by Bob Doyle of Maine was identified as a worked sleeping duck figure. Bob is a master flint knapper and stone tool technology replicator.

This shows how this art motif may be found from coast-to-coast in the United States, perhaps in a related cultural tradition.

This is the scene is nature which Stone Age humans committed to the permanence of stone.


Two tools found by Dennis Boggs in association with art and exotic stone material at Irrigon, Oregon.

12 May 2016

Opposing animal heads, human heads and birds makes six creatures on a quartz crystal-studded figure stone from Flint Ridge

Ken Johnston find, Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio

Animal 1 is interpreted as a 'horse head looking left' where the crystals serve as the horse's mane. The arrows illustrate the interpreted 'sight lines' of the horse and human head profile figures.

Detail of the human head 1 in left profile at within the 'neck' of the horse head figure.

Side 2. Stone measures 6,3.5cm

Side 2 interpreted 'feline head looking right' with, again, the human head as its 'neck.' The arrows illustrate the interpreted 'sight lines' of the creatures.

Side 2 human head left profile detail. It has a deliberate removal in the place for an 'eye' and the back of the head is beveled to round it off.

View of the interpreted feline head with illustration showing approximate locations of eyes and mouth on the figure.

Feline head in another perspective 

View from TOP. The 'feline' is on the ground crystals side and the horse is on the side with the crystals untouched. The crystals seem to have been removed from the view of the feline's head but retained to serve as the 'mane' of the horse figure.

When the horse head figure is rotated 90 degrees left a bird figure with faint eyes and resembling an owl may be seen. The human is seen as looking skyward to the left at the bottom of the stone in this perspective.



Bird number 2 becomes visible when the feline head is rotated 180 degrees. It has a long beak and hunched back like a vulture's.

In summary,

The piece is an artifact with evidence of focused human retouch action all over it.

It was found in strong context of other figurative pieces seen on this blog which incorporate natural quartz crystal formations in the stone.

It has no apparent use wear as a tool and no tool attributes I can detect.

It has quartz crystals attached to the flint which would have made the raw material attractive for an object designed for visual properties.

There are two zoomorphic forms on opposite sides of the stone. The animals share 'mouths' along a bi-facial edge on the sculpture.

There are two anthropomorphic head forms on opposite sides of the stone. Like the animals, the humans share 'mouths' along a bi-facial edge on the sculpture.

The piece includes the known Paleolithic art motif of combining the heads of humans and animals- and does so twice.

In a third visage of the stone in a vertical position is a likely intended long-beaked bird figure.

In a fourth visage of the stone of the opposite side in a vertical position is a second bird figure.

This makes a total of six creatures represented on this one extraordinary flint figure stone. The artist's pairing of a feline with a horse could be a recognition of their predator-prey relationship or even an appreciation for the feline's work at delivering horse kills to scavenge.

Perhaps horses were desired for felines so felines would be less likely to predate on humans. We can only speculate with futility on the specifics but we can indeed recognize what must have been visual patterns of meaning in portable rock art from the past.



An African Cheetah and a Przewalski's wild Asian horse lounging at The Wilds conservation preserve in south east Ohio may be as close to the 'lion/horse drama' of the Ohio Ice Age which we can observe here today. Ken Johnston photos, Cumberland, Ohio, May 7, 2016.


A Levallois-like blade and pointed scraper found at the Flint Ridge location of portable rock art finds supports the idea of the presence of a Middle Paleolithic-based art and tool complex. The pointed scraper has evidence of use wear consistent with animal hide or soft tissue processing.

10 May 2016

Three crude portraits found among Lower Paleolithic tools on the Île d'Oléron, France

Henri Valentie finds, Island of Oleron, France

"Hello, I present these portraits whose dimensions are 22/18/15, 25/13/16, 17/14/7. These stones come from the same site on the island of Oleron.

On the first one can distinguish a face looking skyward. The third has a funny side.

On this site there are more than stone figures with lower paleo tools.

Was it a place of worship (the sea with large tidal coefficient)? Still passionate about your site, friendship, Henri"

I think it is possible the middle stone has a depiction of a right profile of a horse head and neck, with an 'eye spot,' across the human's forehead. This France find could have a motif affinity with the Virginia sculpture featured in the posting just prior to this one.

04 May 2016

A striking human head sculpture made by means of large flake removal from The Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia

'Human head sculpture by means of large flake removal'
Adam Arkfeld find, Clear Brook, Virginia

Creation of a sculpture like this requires a remarkable skill set of the artist, combining intimate knowledge and mastery of the stone material as well a talented artistic sensibility we can appreciate today.

As with so much portable rock art, more is often going on than first meets the eye. I interpret a horse neck and head figure nested in the human head sculpture above the person's forehead.

Please note what may a crude animal face depiction on the right side edge of the first photo. The creature's nose is a dark spot at the furthest tip on the right side. This is similar to other finds from western Europe and north west Africa. This suggests a connection of the North American Arkfeld Site to 'Old World' Acheulean or Mousterian in the Acheulean Tradition (MTA) art and tool complexes. (click photos to expand).

Photo one circles the animal head and photo two features the animal head with interpreted and illustrated features of its eye, nose and mouth.


'Heavy duty rhomboid burins'
Arkfeld Site tool finds, May 2016