03 March 2015

India human head profile appears to have worked facial features including two nostrils in correct location

From India, human head with eye, two nostrils and mouth, Thath Chanuhacha collection, Bangkok, Thailand.

The facial features appear to be worked but this would need be confirmed by a petrologist. The two nostrils in anatomically and artistically correct location suggest this piece was indeed humanly worked.

28 February 2015

"Right eye open, left eye missing" Eurasian Paleolithic rock art motif identified in Arkansas among now dozens of North American examples

"Right eye open, left eye missing" Eurasian Paleolithic art motif found in Arkansas

Human head on a cobble, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, Jeff Vincent collection. The very strong art context of the find and its stereotypical form and appearance argue for its artifact status.

Human agency would be confirmed by careful scientific examination of this stone but Archaeology does not want to open up any new cans of worms because it does not operate like a science. It would rather maintain the status quo and preserve dogmas and research budgets than generate new knowledge, despite its reliance on the good public for almost all of its funding. Is Archaeology serving itself or humanity's need to know more about its past?


"Right eye open, left eye missing" Paleolithic art motif found in the Netherlands in a context >300,000 years before present. Collection of Jan van Es.


(Left) Photograph © Walther Matthes. Matthes, W. (1969). Published in Eiszeitkunst im Nordseeraum. Otterndorf, Gr: Niederelbe-Verlag; (1964/1965). Bild 62. Mousterian context (Neanderthal) artifact from Germany at left as seen at originsnet.org for motif comparison to Arkansas example at right identified by Jeff Vincent.

Either Neanderthals made it to North America or other humans carrying their art and tool traditions were present here.

26 February 2015

Report of a gemstone with human head and animal head qualities from Ratnapura, Sri Lanka

Kavinda Dharmisiri's zoomorphic and anthropomorphic yellow sapphire stone, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Interpreted as an animal head facing right by Kavinda. Because this stone is likely from the Lower Paleolithic it is not likely to be a dog but is more likely to be an animal present in Sri Lanka during that time.

"Dear Mr Johnston

I'm from Sri Lanka and I have this natural rock formation of a rough yellow sapphire rock which was found about 60 years ago from a gem mine in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. It belonged to my grandfather who was a gem merchant. One side of the rock resembles a human face and the other side a dog's face which is quite interesting and I was searching about such findings on the internet  and came across your blog about portable rock art and thought of submitting you these images of it hoping I could get a better understanding about it.. whether it's a natural rock formation or a portable rock art.. 
I believe it looks similar to the "one eye open, other eye closed" figure stone which i saw on your blog.
Dimensions(approx.):

Length =   6 cm
Width   =   5.3 cm
Depth   =   3.3 cm

These type of findings are not common in  our country and this stone was quite popular back in the day that it even got published in local newspapers..
i understand that it might be difficult to comment on such a finding by just looking at the images..  though it would be great if you could express your opinion about this rock formation..

Thanks and Regards
Kavinda

A nose has been manufactured by a human by incising two lines which terminate at their intersection to form a "V" shape. The location in the nose area between the eyes and its precise execution argue strongly for this being an artifact. There may also be stone removal in the figure's mouth area as highlighted by the oval marking.


A second rough human head profile facing left appears when the stone is rotated slightly to the right from the orientation in the photo at top.

Third human face figuration is in Lower and Middle Paleolithic paleoart motif of "right eye open, left eye missing." The right eye is circled, the "missing" left eye is marked by the triangle, distortion of the left side of the face under the eye is characteristic of this motif and is made of an arching line, mouth circled at bottom.

24 February 2015

Austin, Texas, PAC-MAN like anthropomorphic stone found in a strong portable rock art context helps confirm it as a widespread motif

 PAC-MAN like anthropomorphic stone, David Boies find, Austin, Texas

This sculpture found by David Boies near Austin, Texas, is yet another example of a recurring form from portable rock art bearing sites which have been featured on this blog.  This one helps confirm this PAC-MAN like form as a broad formal motif which must have had a cultural significance to the people who made and used them. They have been described from Oregon, Tennessee and Mississippi- and now Texas.

Tennessee example in center with two Oregon examples at the ends

The subject of stone toys has been raised here before and its seems possible these simple heads could have used for child play or puppetry. David Boies noted this figure's resemblance to a frog.

1) At far left are flake removals, possibly made to accommodate a human grip of the stone.

2) The lines forming a funnel shape indicate an area which may have been used and patinated by a human finger in the grip of the object. It could also be that the sharp corner of the figure's mouth was used as a scraper tool and this caused the wear and patination in the funnel area.

3) The circle around the eye may indicate a natural stone feature which was exploited or it could be human made pigmentation by birch bark resin or the like.

4) The black line indicates an approximate edge of this stone before it was humanly modified. A large hunk of the stone was removed at an approximate 100 degree angle to depict an open or laughing mouth.

The flake removal at left and the mouth at right indicate this is an artifact and not a natural coincidence. Several individual stone removal points with the same or similar patination are highly unlikely on a natural rock. Natural scars on stones have differing patinas because they are so spread out in time.

22 February 2015

Human head and horned bovid head combined in a sculpture from 23JP1222, The Old Route 66 Zoo Site

Human head with big lips facing left, Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, near Joplin, Missouri

The sculpture stands upright in this position. The human face is looking left and skyward and the horned bovid head profile is facing right.

Blue line marks the human and animal heads joined together and facing in opposite directions like the mythological two-headed Janus. This is a known paleoart motif described by early sculpture author Pietro Gaietto. The bovid could be a muskox which appears in other examples of portable rock art. The "Harlans Muskox" had downward pointed horns which curve out when viewed from the front but which appear straighter than they are when the animal is seen in side profile view as in this example.

Gaietto writes:
"Sculptures of lower and middle Paleolithic are eight types:
1) human head
2) animal head
3) human head two-faced
4) animal head two-faced
5) human head joined for the neck at the head of animal 
6) human head mixed to animal head
7) naked woman (Venus)
8) head of animal with human body."

20 February 2015

Colorado hand axe with human facial profile suggests relation to the Acheulean tradition in the Old World

Chris Schram find, Big Dry Creek, Westminster, Colorado

Objects like this encountered by North American archaeologists are often categorized as "pre forms" as if they are too crude to be finished tools. They are not aware of Old World art and tool traditions or stone working techniques other than free hand knapping. Large caches of so-called pre-forms should be re-evaluated to see if they may be completed tools which have not yet been well described here. Some could be indicators of very old archaeological sites.

This small axe was retouched to include a crude human face in right profile along the right edge of the tool composed of an eye, a nostril and a mouth. This helps confirm its link to Old World Acheulean traditions (the "decorated bi-faces".)

Illustration of a possible work area and a possible bison face opposite the human facial profile.

17 February 2015

Lower Paleolithic feline head sculpture from the French Pyrenees is predictive of ceramic art in Czech Republic tens of thousands of years later

Feline head sculpture, Henri Valentie find, Pyrenees range, France

Mr. Valentie writes: "Here is a feline head found in the Pyrenees at 1200 m altitude in context of Lower Paleolithic tools. The dimensions are 34/22/8cm. All around has been retouched."

The tool context would suggest an age of greater than 300,000 years for this sculpture. While it may be dismissed as too crude by some, we must remember the mainstream art and archaeology establishments do not think early humans such as Homo erectus or Homo heidelbergensis were capable of or made even crude figurative art.

Ken Johnston illustration of the right eye and the mouth of the lion which are both heavily worked. The lion nose appears to have nostril indents. The left eye of the lion is not depicted in order to realize a "right eye open, left eye missing" motif which is seen on human face mask sculptures as well as a few lion head sculptures including ones from Oregon and Ohio. This Lower Paleolithic depiction may be seen as predictive of this art motif which extended to more recent Upper Paleolithic times.

Reproduction of a ceramic lion head from the Dolní Věstonice Museum in Czech republic. This lion head is also depicted as having a right eye but the left eye is expressed as a blank space- or as missing. This demonstrates the persistence of this art motif from Lower to Upper Paleolithic contexts. The ceramic lion head is about 30,000 years old.

Simple as it gets

Henri Valentie find, Île d'Oléron, France, 11/8.5/4cm

With certain layout and spacing humans cannot help but recognize a simple face on a stone like this. When the stone is found in an archaeological context it can be reasonably deduced that it was also noticed in the past.  Independent portable rock researcher Alan Day has written an article on this subject "Recognizing Faces in Lithic Artifacts (Figure Stones): A Neuroscientific Perspective"

13 February 2015

Lower Paleolithic art motif of "faces on diamonds," diamond shaped stones and a mammoth head figure at Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, compare directly to finds in Northern Virginia

Four new faces on diamond shaped stones, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, Jeff Vincent finds. 

The largest one in the middle was featured earlier on this blog. Ursel Benekendorff of Hamburg, Germany, has described this motif from a Lower Paleolithic context in Northern Germany. Archaeology must ask itself "What is this motif doing in North America?"

Close up of a "face on diamond" artifact.

More diamond shapes Jeff Vincent has identified at Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. Jeff hypothesizes these could be abstract "bird in flight" figures when viewed in a horizontal rather than vertical orientation.

In 2012 I speculated these shapes may be heavy duty borer/burins and made this illustration based on my Ohio observations.

A mammoth or mastodon head figure from Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, identified by Jeff Vincent. The diamond shaped stones and this elephant head figure have remarkable similarity to material identified at the Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia. It is likely the two sites are connected by some cultural continuity.

Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia, mammoth head figure found in a strong context of many mammoth figures and diamond shaped stones.

"Face on diamond" Lower Paleolithic art motif described in Europe was identified at the Spout Run Site, Bluemont, Virginia, and featured earlier on this blog.

Arkansas and Virginia sites are 750 miles or 1200 km apart. The portable rock art favors a broad Ice Age sculpture tradition in North America.

11 February 2015

A ground sloth and horse head combination sculpture in petrified wood from Big Dry Creek, Westminster, Colorado

Chris Schram find, Big Dry Creek, Westminster, Colorado, in a watershed Chris has documented is rich in humanly worked petrified wood figure stones and sculptures. Interpreted by Chris in the field as a standing bear from behind with its head turned to the left.

The depiction of the posture of the animal is highly suggestive of a ground sloth. A stub of a thicker tail than a bear tail seems to also be depicted. There is precedence for sloth portable rock art in the United States as evidenced by the Arkfeld site example made on a stone featuring a natural face mask and found in a palaeoart context.

Animal head (bear, sloth) is defined by human modification of the stone, illustrated by line markings.

When the view of the sloth is tilted 90 degrees to the left, a horse head sculpture is presented looking left with a large humanly carved eye and where the sloth's head is the detailed muzzle of the horse. The horse is depicted with a "swept back mane" which is also a leg of the sloth.

Published scholars in Ice Age rock art such as R. Dale Guthrie and Barbara Olins-Alpert have described many of the human and animal images as having a cartoonish appearance. We also can see this in their portable rock art. The cartoon-like appearance is due to reduction of the visages to their most simplistic and evocative forms and having to translate these natural forms into the hardness and stubbornness of rock.

This kind of polymorphic sculpture is seen in many examples on this blog and the combinations of the animals, such as horse and sloth, likely had an understood cultural significance to the Ice Age makers and users of these objects.

Flaked petrified wood in very shallow water found near the sloth and horse head figure. Artifacts eroding along Big Dry Creek. Photography by Chris Schram.

05 February 2015

In search for the earliest Americans, Archaeology has painted itself into a corner with focus on flaked chert and spearpoints

Nadia Clark find, Prescott, Arizona

Bird figure found in a context of many bird stone finds and tools identified by Nadia as quartzite microliths. Archaeology has not yet been able to identify the lithic art or tools which might correspond with any pre-Clovis (>13,000 years ago) peoples. The art objects being found and described by amateurs must be considered a proxy for identification of tools which may not yet be described in the Americas.

101 bird figures from Nadia's back yard

Close up of some bird stones

Microliths (1-3 cm) all found together on Nadia's property. These are worked quartzite tools which produced a pattern of morphology which Nadia is unable to dismiss as a natural coincidence. With the presence of figurative art at the same small site at Prescott, Arizona, these items require further study rather than immediate dismissal by archaeologists. These look to have been used in the fingers rather than as elements of composite tools but I still use the term microlith to describe their diminutive size.

Tools like this are common to the Acheulean period in East Asia, as are crude hammers and choppers. 

Despite art and tools in line with Old World finds, American archaeologists cannot see it because they have been educated to focus on flaked chert. This is just a small fraction of all the lithic material left by the earliest Americans and has left American Archaeologists stuck around the 15,000 years before present date for the presence of the first Americans. Sophisticated balanced and heat treated wooden spears have been identified in Europe at around 300,000 years ago. Archaeologists would have us believe no early people in America used wooden spears and non-chert tools, or made portable rock art. With dense populations of humans in east Asia around 800,000 years before present and the Beringia land bridge being open 200,000 of the past 500,000 years, it seems unlikely the first humans arrived in America just 15,000 years ago.

A bird head figure found by Nadia Clark at the site was featured earlier on this blog. The bird head was interpreted as also presenting the rough profile of a human face on its right side.

Amateurs have not been prejudiced by the dogmas of academic archaeology and use common sense to identify concentrations of tools and art. A real science is always open to anomalous finds and has a way to accept them or reject them based on its developed methodologies.

Despite the occasional call for more involvement of avocationalists, Archaeology does not operate in this way. Archaeology blows off amateurs with novel observations as if it already knows all there is to know. This hubris renders Archaeology impotent to do the work required to identify the material culture signatures of the earliest Americans. With a continued focus on flaked chert tools as the required evidence of the earliest Americans, Archaeology will never identify who they were.

04 February 2015

Acheulean handaxe with bird, human and animal imagery demonstrates how iconic flints may turn up in private or museum "tool" collections

Acheulean handaxe, (15 x 7 cm). From Calvados (Normandy) West of Paris Basin. Private tool collection. Acheulean -550,000 - 300,000 BP

A likely animal head and neck figure facing left, possibly horse

Bird figuration with tail feathering on the handaxe form

Simple anthropomorphic pointed head facing right with eye detail

Handaxe in the Acheulean tradition is also a bird-form

These icons may also be seen in a petrified wood figure stone with bird, human and horse imagery found by Chris Schram in Westminster, Colorado. The human faces are depicted on the bulging breast of the birds in both the France and Colorado examples.