28 April 2016

Some of the many faces of the Ice Age Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia

'Limestone plaquette, human head facing left'
Adam Arkfeld find, Site #44FK732, Clear Brook, Virginia

In addition to the head and neck profile in the overall shape the sculpture, there are two additional 'heads' depicted on top. This sculpture has three 'noses'. The 'eye' on the face circled in the upper right is trace evidence of pigmentation. The eye is obscured on the 'shadow face' with the nose highlighted in white.

'Face on rhomboid' a known portable rock art motif

'A smiling figure stone' with two nostrils in its facial detail. Maybe the figure is depicted as 'winking.' Perhaps a figure like this was a child's novelty or toy, a kind of Paleolithic 'Casper the Friendly Ghost' character. Adam Arkfeld describes it as having a purple hue which may be pigment residue.

23 April 2016

Ohio amateur archaeologist identifies human head sculpture found among artifacts and finds comparable example from the Swiss Alps

Adam Robinson find, Stark County, Ohio

Adam writes: "My elevation is almost 1300ft and the surrounding area is 850-900. I live on a plateau called top of the world. I don't think my land was glaciated, I think it caught a lot of runoff and deposits but never carved. There's fossil sea life still in the ground only an inch below the soil. Everything I have matches Acheulean and Mousterian artifacts. Very strange."

Ken Johnston illustration of Adam's interpretation along with possibility of the human head mixed with an animal head facing to the right. Faint traces of the human's mouth and an incised eye are highlighted.

"Many human faces in Paleolithic art look a little like those of large mammals, with an elongated nose or muzzle. These are my drawings to illustrate the character or flavor of this gradient"
(c) Copyright R. Dale Guthrie, "The Nature of Paleolithic Art," 2005, page 92

A couple of bird figures identified by Adam

'Sitting bird figure'

A worked flint from the site with possible human face profiles on two sides. The arrow illustrates the 'eyesight line'. The photo at right has a possible face in left 3/4 profile on the left edge.

 A battered and broken anvil stone reconstructed by Adam Robinson

The artifact at upper left is limestone made on a prepared core using Levallois-like technology.

Stone tools identified by Adam Robinson

American handaxe identified by Adam as similar to some Acheulean handaxes

A worked quartzite flake and a worked piece of red ocher from the site. Red ocher was often used in the Stone Age as a pigment for use in decoration, ritual and body paint.

18 April 2016

Korea example of hand axe with a face profile on its mid right edge bridges the geographic gap between European and American examples

'Korea hand axe with crude human face profile looking right'

Korean example of hand axe with a face profile in its mid right edge bridges the geographic gap between European and American examples as recently featured on this blog.
The Paleolithic Age, which can be regarded as the first cultural stage of humankind, began with the manufacture of tools and the use fire. It is estimated that the Korean Peninsula came to be inhabited by humans from the mid-Pleistocene, approximately 780,000~130,000 years age. These paleolithic communities consisted of hunters and gathers who maintained a mobile lifestyle. They established camps in caves or alongside rivers and made various tools.

 Illustration highlighting the human head and face in right 3/4 profile perspective.

This new example from far east Asia implies a culturally mediated figurative art motif incorporated into hand axe tools by Homo erectus or other archaic humans spanning Africa, Europe, Asia and possibly into North America. This is counter to the popular belief such humans were not capable of figurative art.

14 April 2016

A two-sided turkey vulture head with two human face profiles incorporated onto its backside from Flint Ridge, Ohio

'Two-sided turkey vulture head with two human face profiles incorporated onto its backside.'
Ken Johnston find, Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio

Side 2 of a likely turkey vulture head depiction. The material is Vanport chert.

Human face right profile on the back of the vulture head.

Close up of human face right profile reveals intense flint work on a very small scale. These artifacts call for extremely close scrutiny of worked stones near major stone quarry sites like Flint Ridge for iconic properties.

The face has received flint work attention which cannot be accounted for in an endeavor to make a tool. This stone seems wholly unsuitable as tool stone. It has been deliberately shaped, it resembles a bird head on two sides and has two human face likenesses when they have already been associated with the backs of bird figures on this blog here and also here. This Ohio flint bird is very similar to one from Italy, described by Paleolithic sculpture author Pietro Gaietto.

The Ohio bird was found in the same general location as several other flint bird head figures.

I have also described human facial profiles worked on flint edges. This is an example in the Flint Ridge material with a profile on each side of the stone like this one.

It should be noted that Jacques Boucher de Crèvecœur de Perthes specifically described bird heads as among the iconic materials he found alongside tools in the Somme valley of France in the mid 19th century.

Turned upside-down the turkey vulture head resembles a sitting bird with beak turned up to accept feeding

The flint compared with a turkey vulture head

Here is another human facial profile, looking leftward, worked into the flint on the backside of the bird head. Note the prominent brow ridge which suggests a more robust human type.

In its totality this object and its context proves a Stone Age art enterprise at Flint Ridge which, among many motifs, incorporated combined bird and human forms.

12 April 2016

The Old Route 66 Zoo reveals more stone human head likenesses from a half-acre site

'Zooanthropomorphic face with animal-like left ear'
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo, Site #23JP1222

Note the lighter 'eyes' and the reddish 'nose' on the face like figure which is looking to the upper left corner.

Another anthropomorphic 'face mask' from the OR66Z Site, Jasper County, Missouri (Missouri local archaeological inventory number).

An examination of these stone sculptures can confirm Stone Age modification.

11 April 2016

More of the 'mammoth with human face on posterior' motif from The Arkfeld Site

'Mammoth right profile with human face depiction on its posterior'
Adam Arkfeld find, The Arkfeld Site, #44FK732
Clear Brook, Virginia

One of many mammoth sculptures from this site. This one could be depicting a mastodon based on the head and body shape. Adam describes the sculpture as smoothed by extensive handling and ocher stained. He detected a human face likeness on what would be the posterior of the mammoth. The mammoth body is seen in right profile with the human face in the lower left corner.

'Human face on mammoth posterior'

08 April 2016

Stone head and pendant in close proximity from the Island of Oléron, France

Henri Valentie finds, Island of Oléron, France, on a Lower Paleolithic site producing other finds featured on this blog. "You can see many faces on this left profile" writes Valentie. 38/30/20 cm.

A stone pendant with bi-conical hole found on the same site on the same day on the Island of Oléron. 7/6/4 cm. Henri Valentie finds.

30 March 2016

American Archaeology has not accounted for tool types often associated with 'portable rock art' and found in abundance in parts of North America

"The Hopewell Shaman" Licking County, Ohio
About 2,000 years old

The Hopewell Shaman recovered at the Newark Earthworks in 1881 just 10 miles from my home is particularly not what most Native American portable rock art looks like based on my own observations. And most Native American tools are not flaked chert or flint tools, but coarse stone ones in expedient, crude and opportunistic forms.

American archaeology was born in 1784 when Thomas Jefferson split open an earthen mound on his Monticello estate. In 2011 when I requested a meeting with Ohio's curating archaeologist to show him a suspected Paleolithic flint sculpture hoard I found on the shore of a former glacial terminus lake, he replied with a "no thanks" and sent some photos of some stone figures found in Ohio mounds, including the above Wray figurine, and explaining "this is what Native American art looks like." 227 years and so much for progress in Archaeology. They truly are "mound-bound" in their thinking.

The Ohio amateur archaeologist community has not developed a strong Paleolithic interest other than "fluted points." The book "Ohio Stone Tools" goes wrong starting with "A" for "anvil" which is incredulously missing from this publication and its decades later updated version. I have found anvils to be one the most common artifacts, often visible on the landscape and a proxy for Stone Age culture sites. They often have stories to tell based on their use scars. Anvils can also indicate bi-polar lithic reduction sites which produce distinct artifact types often not recognized by North Americans.

Paleolithic studies in North America seem unnecessarily limited to flints and cherts and tend to focus on spear points and the Clovis tool kit and its immediate precursors.

There is a great number and diversity of coarse stone expedient and opportunistic tools which may be found in surface surveys which seem to have simply been forsaken in the quest for more easily recognized, categorized, formalized and, most tragically, monetized types. The Appalachian and Allegheny mountain creek valleys in the eastern United States are chock full of these types of materials with the absence of flaked flint tools or debitage. No one has systemically studied them as far as I am able to determine without having access to academic journals behind "paywalls."

The sheer volume of this archaeological material suggests the presence of  many people over long periods of time generating likely many billions of crude stone artifacts. Farmers, landowners and amateur archaeologists have tried to call attention to anomalous crude tools and have been summarily dismissed by Archaeology because of a kind of endemic Americentrism still rooted in Jefferson's mound which has severely distorted its knowledge generation system. There is a misconception that Mode-I Oldowan style and other simple pebble tools ceased being made in the Old World in the Lower Paleolithic and are not found in the Americas. This is a fallacy and is wide open for research by avant-garde archaeology scholars.

With humans in dense numbers in Asia by 900,000 years ago, and all kinds of flora and fauna crossing the Bearing land bridge, it seems highly unlikely the Americas remained sterile of humans until 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.

There could have been early people living in North America who did not use flaked cherts and flints but favored other more easily available materials on the landscape modified using techniques they were familiar with. Migrants from East Asia may have been just so disposed:
Stone with good fracture qualities—such as flint, jasper, and chert—was not always as readily available in Asia as it was elsewhere in the world. Asian populations, therefore, depended on coarse-grained quartz, volcanic tuff, and petrified wood, none of which lends itself to fine tool fabrication. The lack of good material may explain why stone tool making did not evolve in Asia. Choppers and chopping tools were still being made, for example, by Solo man of Asia, while his European contemporary, Neanderthal man, was able to manufacture hand axes, borers, and knives, as well as choppers.
The Clovis fetish gave them a wild goose chase for a few decades.  As long as North American Archaeology is chasing flaked chert and flint to the near exclusion of other stone materials, it still may not be chasing evidence for the earliest Americans, but its own tail.

These rocks were recovered together eroding out of a hilltop in eastern Licking County, Ohio, which in the Ice Age was not glaciated but is described by local geologists as a "glacial overlook." It was a promontory site where one could have stood on the hill and observed the flowing Wisconsin and Illinoisan glaciers' terminal moraines in the valley below during their respective eras. The valley was at one time 400 feet lower than its present day 100 feet when it was a part of the Plio-Pleistocene Teays River system. It has been filled with glacial till in the past two episodes.

Each of these 10 items from the glacial overlook were identified by me as artifacts and collected as representative of tools available in great numbers in the local area and at places identified by many amateur archaeologists as reported to this blog. They came from within a one meter area but demonstrate 5 distinct lithic reduction strategies or technologies which are not recognized by many archaeologists because of the focus on flint. I only collected 10 tools and was not conscious of the reduction types until inspecting the group on my workbench. Portable rock art featured on this blog has been found nearby but not in direct association with these particular tools.

Five different lithic reduction technologies identified in one square and no flaked chert or flint nearby despite the location being 5 miles from Flint Ridge, one of the highest quality flint sources in North America. Eastern Licking County, Ohio, Ken Johnston finds.

1,2     From once rounded pebbles subject to bi-polar fracturing using a hammer and an anvil most likely anchored in the ground. The result is a "wedge" like an orange slice which has the smoothness of the cortex behind a sharp edge. On 2 above, the almost horizontal surface of the lower part is a result of use wear while the other visible planes are flake surfaces. The distal tip has become single-notched through use wear.

3,4     Mode I-Oldowan style pebble tools with just one break to create a sharp edge and showing use wear.

5,6     Naturally ergonomic hard stones which may have light work to make "distressed grip pads" and which demonstrate quite significant surface wear from use. Only slight modification to overall natural shape. 5 seems to be of pink granite and 6 seems a translucent to smokey grey quartzite.

7,8      White quartzite which had been flaked from larger pieces and which both show evidence of use. Number 7 has been reduced to a shape resembling a piece of chalk in its final seconds of use. 7 and 8 are so similar it seems possible they came from the parent core stone.

9,10    Heavy duty rhomboidal hand tools. They can be burins, borers, pounders, grinders, choppers and scrapers. They are made by sandwiching tabular stone blanks between two buffers, wood or stone slabs, and chipping the stone that is "sticking out the vise." This kind of diamond shape is an ergonomic form which conforms to the demands of the hand during use. They often have a notch to accommodate the thumb along one of edges and number 10 above shows just such a notch. These two are particularly thick or "chunky." They too demonstrate use wear. I first described this novel tool form in 2012 and their potential importance to American Archaeology, and frequent association with what has been identified as portable rock art, should not be underestimated. Illustration follows below.

Illustration of 9 and 10

Number 10 in my hand

Side 2 perspective of the Licking County, Ohio, non-cryptocrystalline pebble tool artifacts: they are made of basalt, sandstone, quartzite and granite

One million to 300,000 years old chopper, Terrasse 60m, Saint-Clar-de-Rivière, Haute Garonne, France. Former collection of Henri Breuil. The simple "Oldowan" style chopper was in use in the Acheulean which demonstrates how it is dangerous to assign a tool a time period, or a human species for that matter, based on its morphology.  Due to their simplicity and expediency it seems possible then that Native Americans could have been making these kinds of tools into the Holocene. The long-running assumption that Mode I type simple tools can't be in America because people were not in America during the "Oldowan period" is not valid.

Who was making and using these tools in North America and when were they here? In its current state, the field of Archaeology may not be in a position to answer a question like this.

Art from the Licking County, Ohio, glacial overlook featured earlier on this blog. A human face left profile sharing a mammoth head cresting its forehead. Ken Johnston find and interpretation. 

This sculpture was found just 3 miles from the Hopewell Complex Newark Shaman find location. Is it just coincidence they both depict humans with animal heads atop their heads? Does this sculpture depict a human/mammoth shamanic transformation process in a way similar to the proposed Newark Shaman's human/bear transformation depiction? (click photo to expand)

Who was making this art and when were they here?

28 March 2016

Check your Acheulean handaxes for iconography, some may be "animated" or "decorated" with human face profiles incorporated into tool edges

Sahara desert Acheulean handaxe

I came across this Acheulean handaxe on the internet and noticed it may be another example of a handaxe with a face incorporated into its mid right edge.

Collectors and researchers of these handaxes should be aware of the possibility of a definable pattern of iconography on some of these tools, from Western Europe, North Africa and perhaps even North America.

German independent rock art researcher Ursel Benekendorff has identified a fine example which is featured on the link to her website on the right side panel of your screen.

Illustration of facial profile with mouth agape incorporated into the edge of the handaxe

A second recent example I came across, from West Africa. There is a simple face likeness with 'open mouth' in right 3/4 profile in the middle of the right edge.

France, possibility of a crude, worked face on the surface of the handaxe

 Sahara desert

Sahara desert 

United Kingdom, Acheulean handaxe with possible face worked onto edge.

American Acheulean tradition handaxe? Texas artifact identified by Bill Waters as having a worked face likeness on its edge.

American Acheulean tradition tools? These too may exhibit a pattern of facial iconography worked into their lower right edge. Clayton Eliott finds, Missouri, USA, featured just a few postings ago.

Master flint knapper and independent figure stone investigator Bob Doyle of Maine created this flint with a detailed human facial profile on its right edge as an experiment in replicative archaeology. Bob uses the word "carve" to describe his work on the face details.