19 September 2014

A Texas mammoth and face mask combination figure stone along with two tools, a snarling flint and a quartzite bird

 David Boies find, Westlake, Texas
Mammoth form combined with face mask icon

Rather than accurate representation, Palaeoart is more so about recognition, perhaps the process of discovery, and inclusion of significant natural form. In a strong context of iconic objects in Westlake, Texas, this stone may be seen to contain an "element of an elephant" along with an abstracted human, feline or human/feline face mask. The mammoth with human form on the posterior is a North American portable rock motif already documented on this blog. (click photos to expand and toggle)

What may look like "visual noise" or "junk" or "just a rock" to some observers today may have been quite starkly perceived as significant by a peoples living in a more natural world without mass images and mass icon production and so many 90 degree angles.

Stone objects like this were likely serendipitous finds for culturally motivated artists. If a natural find suggested a mammoth and a face mask, it would be modified as necessary to satisfy the requirements of the artist. Here, there appear to be engravings to enhance the trunk of the animal and some kind of alteration to the stone to affect a mammoth eye in the anatomically correct position. The face mask image seems to have been assisted with some stone removal. The natural form presented to the prehistoric artist has been rectified according to cultural imperatives which may be somewhat understood by modern-day interpreters.

David Boies finds, Westlake, Texas, among the portable rock art and identified as possibly iconic tools. They may provide insight into the tool forms Archaeology might look for in its search for the earliest Americans.

A snarling flint

Zoomorphic flint imagery identified by Mr. Boies would not have been lost on prehistoric peoples in the area who seemed to collect such objects.

Westlake, Texas, small quartzite bird figure with possible grinning human face configuration on its back, identified by David Boies.

17 September 2014

Arkfeld site portable carved grid pattern includes two circles-within-circles linked by a meandering line

Limestone with a carved grid pattern identified by Adam Arkfeld
Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK732

Several of the horizontal lines in this orientation have small uniformly spaced markings on them. The grid along with these markings would seem to provide all the necessary variables of combinations and arrangements for full expression of a complex written language.

Ken Johnston generalized illustration of the kind of incised grid pattern including small marks which may be observed on the Arkfeld site artifact.

View of side 3

This abraded and incised stone from the Arkfeld site was featured earlier on this blog. It has incised lines radiating from a circle feature like seen on the incised stone featured in this post. This is a documented later Acheulean marking motif.

Incised lines on zoomorphic stones from Arkfeld site in Virginia and Klasies River Cave 1 site, South Africa

Interpreted by Adam Arkfeld as a horse head figure with incised lines resulting in a diamond shape pattern. Many horse head figures have been identified from the Arkfeld site at Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK732.

Early art and religion scholar James Harrod writes on his blog at OriginsNet.org: "In my July 15 2009 blog I speculated on how several engraved ochre pieces from Blombos Cave Middle Stone Age (Henshilwood, d'Errico and Watts 2009) appeared, at least to me, as having more than just a bunch of scrape marks. Rather they appeared to have overall shapes and then intentional markings that were zoomorphic, with closest zoomorphic matches being 'lion', 'elephant' and 'wildebeest'. Now I'd like to point out another zoomorph in red ochre from a different MSA site, Klasies River Cave 1 (d'Errico, Moreno and Rifkin 2012)."

Side 2 of the Arkfeld site horse head figure. The diagonal lines on this side appear to be natural and there is a lack of clear incised lines going in the opposite direction which would result in the diamond shapes like seen on side 1. The artist may have exploited these ready-made natural lines on side 1 and added the lines to affect a cross pattern.

Pictured with scale (inches) or 6.67cm

16 September 2014

A feline face sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo site, #23JP1222

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, near Joplin, Missouri, site #23JP1222

This stone is interpreted as including a feline face image looking straight-on, with its chin being the lowermost extremity. The chin, mouth, nose, muzzle area of the feline's face is the visual trigger for the overall image. The projection at right, like the narrowing end of a cornucopia, may have served as a handle for the feline face to be manipulated like a kind of puppet. When I saw this, I immediately saw the feline face but I had to disregard the extra stone on top of it because it does not look like anything in the photo. It may be a part of the sculpture awaiting interpretation or just meant to be ignored when focusing attention on the feline face.

The Old Route 66 Zoo feline face image within the larger stone

10 September 2014

With a strong analog from a cave in Ohio, questions are raised by Clive Finlayson's claim of a cave art 'hashtag' by Neanderthals at Gibraltar

Archaeologists like Finlayson should attempt to explain the existence of a very similar symbolic marking convention in Koonalda Cave, Australia, and Seneca Caverns, Ohio. According to popular wisdom, Neanderthals could not have been in Australia or America. So maybe they could explain how a proposed Neanderthal behavior could have been transferred to another "species" (Homo sapiens sapiens) and to places so distant from Gibraltar.

Just like the Gibraltar example in the article, the Ohio cave grid carvings I discovered are on a flat stone shelf extending from the cave wall and approximately 16 inches above the cave floor. It may have marked an ideal sitting spot. Seneca Cave, Ohio, and Koonalda Cave, Australia, both have underground bodies of water. Koonalda also has deliberate markings on a stone shelf.

One of the Seneca Cave, Ohio, carved grids discovered by Ken Johnston (approximately 25cm wide)

Schematic of Koonalda Cave, Australia

Archaeologists like Finlayson are too quick to attribute art examples to Neanderthals because they have a certain date and time frame for the "arrival of modern humans" in Western Europe. These dates and the certainty of them are quite dubious. They are based largely on association of tool and technology types to different human species or cultures, which is invalid and not supported- even contradicted- by archaeological evidence:

“The discipline has little capacity to determine both cultural and behavioral dimensions, because it has become focused on those of technology to the extent of confusing cultural and technological variables. Stone tools, after all, or their relative combinations within an assemblage, do not define cultures any more than we have knife or can-opener cultures today. Cultures, obviously, are determined by cultural factors, including language, art, constructs of reality, and socially transmitted behavior patterns. Tools and technologies, on the other hand, are often used across different cultures, or members of a single culture might use different combinations of tools. It is for this reason that we may safely assume that most of the “cultures” invented by Pleistocene archaeology are etic taxonomic devices, or “institutional facts” sensu Searle [2] that have no real existence in the past. The same applies to the hypothetical peoples endowed with these cultures, which of course never existed as distinctive nations, tribes, ethnic groups or language groups.” (Bednarik, R.G. The Origins of Human Modernity. Humanities 2012, 1, 2-3).

It seems very possible the 'hashtag' motif is a symbolic manifestation of the grids commonly seen entoptically (between the brain and the eyelid) by humans in deep states of shamanic and meditative trances. The pure darkness of caves may have lent itself well to these practices. From OriginsNet.org "Bednarik (1995: 614) argues that one "consistency in early marking is that all the arrangements are recognizable as phosphene motifs: the convergent-lines motif so widespread in rock arts the world over and the structurally related radial motif are among the 15 phosphene motifs of modern humans [Kellogg, Knoll and Kugler 1965]; so are the sets of parallel lines, the dots [cupules] . . ." Again (Bednarik 1994:176): "the prefigurative art of the world, I have claimed . . . is derived from phosphene motifs, and it therefore consists of arrangements and combinations of a known series of form constants (Bednarik 1984, 1986, 1987)."

Perhaps Neanderthals and modern humans had the same cognitive abilities and mind-state alteration practices. Is the cross hatch carving a shared behavior which can destroy the intelligence dichotomy implied by definitions like "Neanderthals" and "modern humans?"

Or maybe Archaeology should explore the existence of this motif on three continents as an indicator that Neanderthal humans made their way around the world in the many tens of thousands of years they dominated the planet. Maybe they were using stone tools not yet associated with Neanderthals.

Or perhaps the link to Neanderthals cannot be so certain at Gibraltar because modern humans were also purveyors of these grids.

More information is needed to assure us that this Gibraltar find is indeed attributable to Neanderthals. At this time, I do not think this is possible. Meanwhile, ample evidence of Heidelbergensis and Neanderthal art detected by amateur and professional archaeologists is completely ignored by the mainstream discipline because it does not fit its dogma.

If Finlayson is eager to discover Neanderthal art in situ, he might consult with the people who have actually studied it, such as art and religion scholar James Harrod, Ph.D., founder of OriginsNet.org and founding member of The Pleistocene Coalition. There is no sense in looking for art near the supposed c. 40,000 years before present arrival of “modern humans” in Europe where there is substantial room for confusion about which “species” was responsible for it. Their art may be found in much older contexts if one knows what to look for. Or better yet, maybe we should consider it all our art, that is, the art of human beings, which dates to the dawn of our existence.

  Koonalda Cave, Australia

03 September 2014

Roll back the Iron Age: A metal and slag mammoth sculpture and a metal spearpoint with a facial profile from the Arkfeld site

Metal and slag mammoth sculpture identified by Adam Arkfeld, Clear Brook, Virginia

The mammoth stands on three legs. The 4th leg has disintegrated but a stub remains. The legs and stub are metal according to Mr. Arkfeld. The mammoth's trunk is the projection at far right.

View of the bottom of the mammoth figure. The mammoth's trunk is the projection at far right.

There may be some evidence of human work to shape the mammoth sculpture while the material was still molten. It looks as if a straight object was pressed into the belly of the mammoth to define the areas which separate the front legs from the back legs.

Site owner and amateur archaeologist Adam Arkfeld submitted an organic-bearing sample of slag from the site for AMS radiocarbon dating and has received a date of >43,500 years before present from Beta Analytic Labs. He is planning further dating tests. The presence of charcoal in some slag as illustrated above can allow the time frame for the creation of the object to be determined.

Recent comments made to this post by Alan Day refer to this information from the Beta Analytic Lab web site which have become part of this post as of 9/9/2014:  "Beta Analytic has set a real and conservative limit of greater than 43500 BP when the activity of the material is statistically the same as the background. This is a credible number based on the lab's own internal AMS limits. As such, Beta Analytic does not quote finite ages in excess of 43500 BP. Samples that yield an activity at or below this are reported as "greater than" 43500 BP."

"- Range: From Present Day back to 47,000 years BP
- Detection Limits: 47,000 BP"

A Levallois technology tool from the site identified by Mr. Arkfeld

Possible Pleistocene metal spear point from Arkfeld site, 18.5cm

In stereotypical artistic convention as seen on this blog and documented by scholars such as James Harrod, Ph.D., a human face left profile image has been worked into this metal spear point or dagger when it was hammered out. Remnants of it can still be seen after all this time. The markups highlight the eye, nose and mouth which were likely intended to animate or "confirm the life of" the artifact. It has two distinct nostrils.

For this author, the presence of the face configuration is an indicator the spear point was not produced in historical times.

It is indeed smiling.

01 September 2014

Life-size 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 portablerockart.com: "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."

Christer Stone: "It looks like the lips have rotted and the teeth are visible."

Close up of the right eye of the human head sculpture

Anaglyph three dimensional photo requires 3D red/cyan eye glasses

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 this 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" (has chosen to remain 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 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 as it includes "teeth" as seen in many other portable rock art human head figures.

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

Artifact from Germany as seen at originsnet.org. 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.