23 January 2017

Acheulian 'animated handaxe' from Menashe Hills, Isreal

'Smiling left 3/4 profile stone portrait'
Acheulian of the Menashe Hills, Israel

This iconic sculptural artifact has two 'eyes' as protruding bumps, a 'nose', 'smiling mouth,' 'jawline,' 'chin' and 'neck.'

 Side 2 of another Acheulian tool with iconic properties- 'an animated handaxe'

21 January 2017

Human head statuette from Arkfeld Site

'Human head statuette' stands upright on a flat base
Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia

18 January 2017

Exotic manuported stone 130,000 years ago may be a feline head profile

Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a 'Lion head profile looking left'
Exotic manuported biopelmicritic grey limestone, 130,000 years ago
Krapina cave Neanderthal site, Croatia, David Frayer, University of Kansas

Ken Johnston illustration of the locations of key elements of the 'lion head'

I think this stone was likely a figurative likeness of a feline head to the persons(s) who brought it into the cave. I think it requires extremely close petrological examination to rule out human modification. The 'nose' looks like it could have been distressed for contrast, the 'eye' is a possible area of removal and from under the nose to the back of the 'chin' it looks like a flake removal with ripples in the flint as if the cat's whiskers. It is not unusual for a feline portable rock art (sculpture) to have a dis-ambiguating well-defined or exaggerated chin and this one could be so interpreted.
None of the 1,000 lithic items collected from Krapina resemble the rock, but despite this it was overlooked for decades.
The discovery of the rock collection may not be as exciting to many people when compared with other discoveries such as cave paintings made by modern humans living in what is now France, 25,000 years ago. However, Professor Frayer said it adds to a body of evidence that Neanderthals were capable assigning symbolic significance to objects and went to the effort of collecting them. The discovery could also provide more clues as to how modern humans developed these traits, he said. 'It adds to the number of other recent studies about Neanderthals doing things that are thought to be unique to modern Homo sapiens,' he said. 'We contend they had a curiosity and symbolic-like capacities typical of modern humans.' Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4127934/Neanderthals-liked-home-decorating-too.html#ixzz4W7YxUlSh

A. Croatia example of 'lion head profile looking left' compared with three examples of suspected lion head figures from Ohio, USA, which were made on a similar artistic visual 'template' or 'scheme' and on very exotic and beautiful lithic materials.

15 January 2017

Australian rock art sculpture defies traditional dichotomy of 'geometric or figurative' rock art

'Sculpture of five motifs"
Rebecca Hainsworth & John Rogers find, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Hi Kenneth,
We have been studying patterns on rock here in Brisbane, Australia, for some time now. What we have discovered is that we have the same figure stones here, as seen on your blog.
For example: Monkey with one eye - common theme is iron in the eye with the left eye missing, Native American symbols, Egyptian and Greek depictions, A lot of animal representations. Additionally, we have discovered glass, slag and other materials.
We have a keen interest in stones we have found that are clear and seem to have a hologram within them.
Is this something you would be interesting in discussing with us?
Please find attached some photographs for your reference.
We look forward to your reply.
Rebecca Hainsworth & John Rogers, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Rebecca and John are professional excavators and have noticed patterns of iconic rock material through the course of their digging work in Queensland. They have noted some similarities with the proposed North American portable rock art featured on this blog.

In a preliminary review of a few photos of their finds, I can confirm the patterns they have detected are recognizable to me and will be to regular blog readers as well. This is a significant development in the effort to understand the world geographic distribution of portable rock art and I look forward to working with Bec and John to better understand what they are finding and where and in what association with other anomalous materials.

Two of the art motifs I can see on this sculpture are figurative. There is a left facial profile on the right side of the stone, angled from the horizontal 'base' of the sculpture as if tilted toward the sky. I drew an arrow to illustrate the approximate line of sight of the face from the eye. This may be an example of some kind of Stone Age proto-Jupiter, or "sky god," mythology. A "stargazer" motif has been described by the Ohio-based independent rock art researcher Alan Day.

'Jupiter' looks toward the sky in classical Roman sculpture

On the back of the facial profile head I have circled a smaller, simple anthropomorphic face in line with many other examples. This smaller face is looking right, opposite of the profile face. Similarly, this may be an example of some kind of Stone Age proto-Janus, or "two-faced god" mythology. A Janus-like motif has also been described by Alan Day.

The two-faces of 'Janus'

A third motif I can recognize here is the more-or-less pentagon shape of the outline of the stone. This is not coincidental but an intended effort by the sculptor and visually accomplishes several things:
  • The dimensions of the pentagon create a 'skyward point' on the 'top' of the sculpture
  • By virtue of the pentagon shape the sculpture has a flat base which accomplishes both a visual "ground" and creates a platform upon which the sculpture will stand upright and present the imagery for viewing
  • The angle of the 'right side roof line' of the pentagon guides the eye sight line of the human face profile (direction the face is looking)
  • The intersection of the right side lines results in a point where the small face looking right is located.
The 'face on mid-right edge' of an artifact is a fourth motif which has been seen on the 'animated Acheulean handaxes' on this blog. This motif has been described by independent rock art researchers Ursel Benekendorff of Germany, Henri Valentie of France, Jan van Es of the Netherlands and early religion and art scholar James B. Harrod, Ph.D. of Maine, USA. I have presented many examples on this blog. These objects are not rare in Acheulean handaxe collections but have been commonly overlooked by archaeologists and collectors alike.

In fact, a blog reader posted a link to an "Animated handaxe" blog article this week on arrowheadology.com and the thread was CENSORED. It resulted in me responding to criticism (which is to be expected), misunderstanding and misinformation by making another a posting myself with some questions about a little bird figure. Ultimately, I was permanently BANNED from Arrowheadology for my questions and thoughts.

The significance of this sculpture is that the geometric and figurative aspects are fully integrated and were possibly inseparable concepts for the artist. Examples like this destroy the false dichotomy rock art scholars have set up by maintenance of these separate classifications. Their assumptions preclude their ability to recognize and interpret the art.

Various types of natural iron oxide compositions were routinely featured or exploited by stone age artists, likely for the dramatic contrast of the red/orange colors. Here, the 'eye' of the face profile looking left may have stained the stone directly underneath it. This would suggest this piece stood upright in this orientation in the open air for more than a brief period of time.

Iron Oxides in Global Systems

Possible motif five: 'Convergence/divergence of linear flow'

I notice a pattern created by the lines etched to remove the surface of the stone on the non-face parts of it. From the photo, the lines appear to have been created by use of a stone chisel and hammer. The lines flow away or toward the mid-point of the top left side edge of the pentagon.
  • This could be an intentional recognition of the center of the top left edge (indicated by the star) and its relationship to the face profile edge line in a 'flowing lines motif' marking.
  • The pattern could be a result of the physical demands of the raw stone and the directions the stone worker took to create the face edge from the series of perpendicular termination points of the carved lines.
  • The lines could be the unconscious result of a human aesthetic motive which was expressed in the execution of the sculpture.
  • The lines could refer to something symbolically we don't know about or even directionally like the 'earth' (lower left side), the 'air' section by the human face nose and mouth in the middle, and the 'sky' in the upper left corner.
Speculated 'Earth, Air, Sky' line flow sections on sculpture surface

Glass knife, Brisbane, Queensland,  Australia

This knife found by Rebecca and John may be supportive of the "Face on mid right edge of artifact" hypothesis for the pentagon sculpture. It looks like a natural dimple in the glass was recognized by the artist as a possible 'nose' and then the area around it was retouched to complete the other facial elements. This could be confirmed by magnified examination of the artifact.

I interpret a knife like this as a finger tool where the top segment of the index finger rested on the concave edge on top of the human face. The knife was then held by the thumb and ring ringers on each side where this would allow the 'face' to be seen through the thumb and index finger while using the knife. This would have the affect of making a "little pet face" to accompany the functional aspects of the piece. A piece like this, indeed, blurs the dichotomy of 'tool' or 'art' and shows how these classifications no longer well serve archaeology and art history scholars.

06 January 2017

Epi-Gravettian obsidian tool collection includes a human head figure

'Obsidian human head profile looking left'

Set of obsidian tools from France. Retouched flakes, blades, scrapers. Upper Paleolithic, epi-Gravettian, 20,700-18,600 years before present. The human head likeness is pictured at lower right.

04 January 2017

A standing mammoth and lion head combination sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo suggests an Aurignacian-like belief system for North America

'Mammoth body silhouette facing left and lion head facing right'
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, site #23JP1222

Illustration of the mammoth head and trunk curvature and the locations of the lion's 'eye' and 'mouth.' Please note there is likely some remaining dark pigment at the circled eye location.

This lion head is created in line with a scheme, or template, which has been identified for a number of suspected lion head sculptures on this blog. This, along with the mammoth-like form opposing it leads me to conclude this is an intended sculpture which was manufactured to stand upright in correct orientation. Note the attention given to shaping the lion's distinctive 'chin,' which also serves as the mammoth's 'rear leg.'

A reproduction of a North American lion head shown next to the Missouri mammoth and lion head sculpture for comparison

I propose sculptures like this combining mammoth and lion forms suggest a North American Pleistocene "belief world" somewhat analogous to one in the Aurignacian period (ca. 34,000 to 29,000 years ago) in central and southern Germany as described in a paper by Hussain and Floss (2015).
Sharing the world with mammoths, cave lions and other beings: linking animal-human interactions and the Aurignacian “belief world”
This paper outlines a “symbolic ecology” for the Aurignacian of Central and Southwestern Germany. Drawing upon data derived from cultural anthropology, psychology and zoobiology, we compare the sociocultural modalities of “managing” the recurrent theme of the mammoth and the cave lion with the encounter and interaction conditions underlying these two specific animal-human relations in the glacial landscapes of the European Early Upper Palaeolithic. We propose that being-in-the-world as highly mobile hunter-gatherers living in open and densely populated “animal-landscapes” strongly promotes non-Cartesian understandings of the animal-human interface, ultimately favouring notions of co-habitation, proximity and social intimacy. By reviewing key aspects of mammoth and cave lion ethology and socioecology, we point out the natural significance and relevance of these animals for human forager groups operating in the same environments. Moreover, we argue that this “natural significance” is directly reflected in the archaeological signature of the Central and Southwestern German Aurignacian that assigns these creatures a pre-eminent place in its material culture repertoire – for instance in craftsmanship, subsistence and settlement organisation and thus in areas deeply anchored in every-day practice. Although there is a clear convergence between the natural prominence of these animals and their sociocultural salience, different eco-behavioural profiles of mammoth and cave lion seem to have motivated varying modalities to engage with them materially. This, in turn, suggests different trajectories of constructing the animal-human interface and therefore a different “status” of both animals in the wider “Glaubenswelt” (belief world) of Aurignacian regional communities. The deep entrenchment of both animals in the sociocultural world as well as the rather unique interaction conditions they offer to human co-dwellers point to the social importance of mammoths and cave lions and thus to animistic and essentially relational ontologies. This, finally, demonstrates the blurring of the Cartesian boundary between animal and human domains and intro-duces the possibility of pondering aspects of “animal-personhood” in this part of the Aurignacian world. We conclude our survey by discussing some critical implications that arise when reading the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition from the perspective of animal-human interactions and the entanglement of ontologies and material signatures.

01 January 2017

A pair of mammoth stone figures from Tennessee

'Pair of mammoth stone figures in right profile view'
Jason Lamont finds from his portable rock art site at Hardin County, Tennessee

'Human head figure facing left'

'Cobble with breaks made to affect a human head likeness'

Natural forces are typically moving rock material toward roundness in shape. When a stone like this 'cube' is found in a suspected stone artifact context, it should be regarded as a human product, maybe a tool and maybe even a geometric novelty for the maker.

This stone has a human face on it, expressed in bas relief. There are two eyes, a bridge and nose and a donut-shaped mouth.

31 December 2016

Stone human head sculptures found in concentration at The Arkfeld Site by Adam Arkfeld

'Stone doll with head looking left'
Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia


A weathered tool from the Arkfeld Site prepared for suspension with natural materials by Adam Arkfeld.

30 December 2016

Human head with mammoth cresting forehead (with crosshatch)

Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia

This sculpted stone is in a motif seen in many instances on this blog and in several from Arkfeld Site. This is a human head likeness in profile facing right with an expanded eye area. There have been stone removals to affect a curved nose and a tongue-like feature near the 'mouth.'

The human is simultaneously a mammoth profile figure facing right where the human and mammoth more or less share the same 'eye' feature in the stone. The human's 'nose' is also the 'trunk' of the mammoth figure. The mammoth's 'head bump' is the crest of the human's forehead in the depiction.

Also of probable significance, there is a small incised crosshatch pattern in the stone above the 'eye' hole which seems inspired by a wholly natural crosshatch feature of the stone formation itself.

22 December 2016

Arkfeld Site human head profile has deeply incised eye definition, a human face carving as its 'nose,' and a possible 'beaver' figure when it is rotated

'Human head profile facing right'
Adam Arkfeld find, Clear Brook, Virginia, Site #44FK731

Deeply incised and angular lines define the figure's eye area and provide quite complete confirmation of the intentional art enterprise evidenced at this remarkable archaeology site. Please note the lower right of this photo which includes the human's 'nose' and shows a human face which has been carved and included looking right on its surface.

Close up view of the human face looking right on the 'nose' of the larger human profile

When the human head profile is rotated 90 degrees left the top stone layer in the stone's relief appears to depict a beaver-like animal with faint remnants of its eye, nose and mouth still faintly visible on the stone.

Illustration of the animal face features on the stone.