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

01 September 2014

Life-sized flint stone human head likeness from Sweden is in Paleolithic "One eye missing" motif with accompanying distortion to left side of the face

Find by Christer Stone of Sweden, 25cm tall

Christer Stone writes for "Here is the story how I found it. I was about ten years old and was on summer holidays which I used to spend with my parents at my grandparents cottage near Gothenburg in Sweden. Me and my brother used to catch lizards and snakes in the area. I discovered it by coincidence when I was looking for reptiles. It was half buried in the ground and only possible to resemble an eye.

The eye made me curious of the rest so I brushed some loose sand off it. It was hard to get it loose from the ground and I was afraid my older brother would see me digging and claim that it was his find. I covered it up with the loose sand and ran to tell my mother about it and we went back looking for the head but did not find it.

The stone head have consigned to oblivion but twenty years later I made a nostalgic trip to my summer childhood area. Sitting and looking at the ground I saw something which resembled an eye. Instantly I recognized and remember the find I tried to dig up so many years ago. It clearly appeared to be a head of a man, with very recognizable features."

The Gothenburg, Sweden, find location of the flint head is 475km distance from the site at Groß Pampau, Germany, discovered by Ursel Benekendorff where the "one eye missing" motif may be seen as early as c. 500,000 years ago.

To my eye, this is a mimetolith which looks to have been enhanced with some human modifications. Here it is considered a sculpture, or perhaps more accurately, a proto-sculpture. This object fits the known palaeoart motif of a human face mask with right eye open, left eye closed or missing, and with distortion to the left side of the face. There are many examples of this seen on my blog.

My findings suggest the distortion to the left side of the face and missing eye are symbolic of a lion's bite to the head in this motif. Someone in the past likely found this object and was inspired by its natural likeness to a human head in the desired motif form. It was likely curated and treated as a cultural object.

Archaeology is "skeptical" (ignorant) of the nature of these kinds of objects but a competent petrologist or flint knapper may be able to identify some parts of the stone which may have seen the work of the human hand. The left eye in particular has had the cortex or outer rind of the stone removed to expose the fresher flint inside. The mouth and nose area may also have human modifications to complete the desired form.

Mousterian "one eye missing" sculpture, c. 200,000 years before present

Artifact from Germany as seen at Photographer © Walther Matthes. Matthes, W. (1969). Eiszeitkunst im Nordseeraum. Otterndorf, Gr: Niederelbe-Verlag; (1964/1965). Bild 62.

29 August 2014

Ten petrified wood bear figures from Westminster, Colorado

Translucent petrified wood standing bear figure found by Chris Schram, Westminster, Colorado

This bear figure is made on the same artistic template as the one pictured above it. They are both left profiles which have work to define the front legs and they have been retouched to add detail to the eye areas. These kinds of templates were probably culturally determined and provided all the visual ques needed for the viewer to get the message.

Bear 3

Bear 4

Bear 5

Bears 6 and 7

Bear 8

Bear 7 repeated, with bears 9 and 10

Chris is able to identify some distinctions among the bear figures and includes this graphic on his web site. Some of the figures include a shoulder hump suggestive of the Grizzly Bear.

This bear figure facing right, as if crouched on a rock, identified by Chris Schram was featured in an earlier posting, as have several of his petrified wood figurative pieces. This figure may also have claws depicted which is another distinguishing characteristic of the Grizzily.

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.


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.