28 June 2011

Day's Knob, Ohio archaeological inventory site #33GU218, has produced a bird pendant among many other likely art pieces

Alan Day collection, Cambridge, Ohio

photo with scale


 
Reverse side of the bird pendant
Alan Day of Cambridge, Ohio, popularly (if one can say that about figure stones) introduced the concept of portable rock art with his web site almost a decade ago.  This example from Day's Knob is interpreted by Alan as a bird pendant which balances in viewing position when hung from a cord.  The hole also serves as the eye for a second bird on the opposite side of the artifact.  A third bird, with wings, is seen emerging from/as the beak of the two larger bird heads.
For more information, visit the Day's Knob web site at the link below.  Many anomalous artifacts are presented from all over the United States and from Europe as well.  

http://daysknob.com/index.html

24 June 2011

Amateur archaeologists independently identify Oregon and Tennessee face-like icons exhibiting similar left-oriented, smiling, look

Sherry Hill find, Carter County, Tennessee

Dennis Boggs collection, Irrigon, Oregon
artifact is pictured on a centimeter(cm) grid for scale
In the first example, the lip begins just slightly right of the vertical center line of the face.  Most of the smiling lip line is oriented toward the left side of the face (right side of photo).  In the second example, the entire lip line is seen in this photo, all of it on the left side of this face stone. The suspected artifacts are about 6cm and 5cm in length respectively.

22 June 2011

Soft detail of lips, in correct placement, suggests artistic intent on angular rock from The Netherlands

Soft detail of lips, in correct placement, suggests artistic intent
on this angular rock.
Jan van Es collection, Netherlands
Archaeologist Jan van Es has been studying stone iconography from sites he has worked in The Netherlands for exactly forty years.  The artist's differential treatment, or recognition of differences in the natural stone, of the right and left eye areas may be an expression of the "one eye open, one eye closed/missing" motif described by James Harrod, Ph.D. in his "Four memes in the two million year evolution..." article (link found on right screen panel).  Other artifacts already posted in this blog may reflect this same motif.  A link to Jan van Es' web site is found at the bottom of the portablerockart.com page.

Alan Day of Cambridge, Ohio, has written an excellent article on facial recognition in lithic artifacts.  It may be found here:
http://daysknob.com/Face_Recognition.htm

21 June 2011

Another bird-like, beaked, flint from southern Licking County, Ohio

Licking Township, Licking County, Ohio
Ken Johnston collection
 

Bird-like flints with beaks can be found locally in the Buckeye Lake area.

Also pictured here are two flint, again somewhat bird-like, blades found within 10 feet of the beaked piece. These pieces were most likely not associated in pre-history but are staged together here to illustrate what seem to be avian shapes found in this locale in greater numbers than pure randomness should allow. Perhaps a pattern can be demonstrated with publication of more examples of this artifact type.
As the enabling (knife-like, spear-like) and first part of a bird to emerge into this world, these beaks may have had a symbolic significance expressed in flint and beyond their potential utility as tool attributes.
 
The topic of children toys in archaeology is rarely addressed but it is likely some rock art was used for learning and play.   A real bird is difficult for a child to hold but they are such a large part of the world of nature early people were immersed in.  Maybe these bird forms were a way to capture a child's imagination for a time.
three artifacts found at Hebron, Ohio, along Buckeye Lake, by Ken Johnston

reverse sides of the artifacts

all shown with scale

close up of beak-like feature

beak feature from opposite side of artifact

14 June 2011

Perhaps a Least Bittern (bird head sculpture standing upright on base)

Least Bittern head and beak, from Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio.
The artifact stands on a base with the beak pointing skyward, just like a living Least Bittern awaiting feeding.

artifact is pictured on a centimeter grid for scale and perspective
(click photo to expand)

Side 2
(click photo to expand)

side 2 standing


John James Audubon reproduction of the Least Bittern in its typical, beak pointing up position.  The flint sculpture here captures not only the look of the Least Bittern but also its most notable observable behavior which is the young clustering with beaks in the air awaiting the regurgitated food to be provided by the mother, heads swaying like the wind-blown reeds and grasses of the water's edge.  As soon as mother leaves to bring back and regurgitate food for the chicks, it's beaks up and moving to the rhythm of the long grass to camouflage themselves and be in ready position for her return.  For this reason, birds (and specifically beaks) are thought to be symbolic of new life and motherly sustenance.
The nesting Least Bittern is observable in the shore area of Buckeye Lake, Ohio, near Flint Ridge today.  When I saw the flint, my immediate thought without hesitation was "Least Bittern!!!" and then the painting on the wall of my study.  The artifact beak has a slight curve where the Least Bittern's beak seems more straight. It seems to be the closest looking species of water bird currently in Ohio and may have been the species in the mind of the creator of this piece of flint.
If not intentionally produced as a sculpture, the likeness to a bird could have been recognized in prehistoric times and resulted in the piece being set aside. The perfectly flat base and ideal standing position of the sculpture form argue for intent to create a presentable bird head sculpture here.

 

13 June 2011

Two examples of beaked, bird-like, flint artifacts from Licking County, Ohio, found at same cultural site

A "beaked" uniface.  Pam Douglass find, Jacksontown, Ohio
(please excuse the slightly blurred photos)
A beaked uniface.  This type of beak is quite common on artifacts in the Licking Valley in Central Ohio, giving them the look of a bird form.  The bird forms often have a concave back and a convex breast below the beak.  More examples to be posted in the future.  It may be diagnostic of a tool type, and/or it could be a way to express bird imagery.  The beaks do not appear to have been used so their existence may be wholly symbolic.  The other edges often appear to have been lightly used.  Also, other types of bird iconography may be found in the area of Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio.


with scale included in photo
Another beaked artifact has two, conjoined, egg-like cups.
It may be interpreted as a micro-sculpture of a pregnant woman's torso with legs spread in birthing position.
Pam Douglass finds, Jacksontown, Licking County, Ohio
This beak itself does not have any indication of use as a tool.

Micro-sculpture of pregnant woman's torso
top yellow line = truncation of the head 
bottom yellow line= truncation of the right leg
yellow arrow= woman's vulvar zone, source of human life
white arrow= left thigh.  Left leg truncated below yellow arrow.
grey line= bottom of belly of woman
white line= contours in the flint define top of pubic area
green arrow= pregnant and protruding belly of woman


Close up of the woman's torso sculpture representation of the vulvar area
The artist has exploited a naturally advantageous inclusion in the flint to represent the source-issuer of all human life.

The white stone feature with sparkling silver center which represents the vulvar zone on the other side of the artifact penetrates and narrows in the flint so it is seen on this side as a circle and dot (inside white circle markup in the photo above) as opposed to an oval with line on the "feminine side."  The blade edge on the left in the photo appears to have been used.  The suspected use-wear zone is inside a white bracket markup in the above photo.  (click photo to expand)
The cups appear breast-like at this angle.  The bird is associated with maternity and providing for the young in Paleolithic art and this may be an intentional symbolic creation of the of the birthing (eggs) and nurturing (breasts) mother motifs. The cups are concave on the artifact but if one looks at the cups as breasts, the breasts appear as if they are convex or protruding from the stone which is in fact an optical illusion.  Pictured with scale (mm) on photo right border.  The beak is highlighted in white lines here because it visually washed out into the background of the photo.
Close up of beaked "bird head" with flint work details.
(click photo to expand view)
This piece may be interpreted as a unified male and female bird where the female side is represented in darker flint, with eggs.  The male side is the pink flint, symbolic of female birds often being drab colored compared to their male counterparts.
The artifact and symbolism here are similar to finds at Boukoul, Netherlands, of archaeologist Jan van Es. Please see links at bottom of the portablerockart.com page for Jan van Es' web site.  Mr. van Es has described the egg, the bird and the pregnant woman as related icons in Pleistocene portable rock art motifs of Europe.  One of the eggs in the nest here is also the woman's belly and the other is her ovate thigh.

04 June 2011

France handaxe is a literal bi-face: human head profile on one side, baboon/macaque head on the other

Partial cordiform bifacial handaxe from France is a literal bi-face:
human head on one side, baboon/macaque head on the other side.  
Top left is baboon/macaque head, top right is human head.

This handaxe photo was located while browsing the internet looking at artifacts.  The artifact was posted "For sale" at a now defunct web site.  It was identified as being found just outside of Paris, France, and as being a Paleolithic handaxe.  It is possible to detect iconography in existing archaeological collections, even while browsing the internet. This, then, is an example of an iconographic tool.  Archaeologists should open up dated artifacts to examination by students of portable rock art for possible imagery or iconography identification.
Human head with marked up blue eye, white nose and red lips. I noticed a possible human face depiction based on a ground eye, protruding nose and a flaked mouth, forehead and chin.


  
When I studied the other photos I noticed a baboon or macaque type head depiction on the side opposite the human face.  The two images give context to each other, increasing the likelihood of artifactuality and intent to create the imagery in this piece.


  
Baboon/macaque head with marked up brow line, eyes, nose and mouth.


It looks as if the artist may have retained and utilized the rock cortex surface to depict the mouth area in a rougher, darker, material (inside the white triangle in above photo).  A visually foreshortened nostril may be depicted just above the upper right point of the white triangle.

The hamadryas baboon and human beings originate near each other in Africa. 
http://www.flamingoland.co.uk/park/mammals/66-hamadryas-baboon.html



Wild olive baboons lived on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain, until 2001. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_baboon
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php?topic=2837.0



Barbary Macaque from Gibraltar, Southern Iberian Peninsula
A Mediterranean character, from north Africa to south Europe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_macaque



The site with original handaxe photo, ITEM NO. FA-21
http://www.stoneageartifacts.com/html/Artifact-Hand%20Axes.html


-kbj