09 August 2011

Crude cobble tool may have been modified to exploit shape to make a head and face figure stone

Crude cobble tool may have been modified to exploit shape to make a head with face sculpture.  Find by amateur archaeologist Sherry Hill near the Doe River, Carter County, Tennessee. Click on photo to expand detail.
Sherry Hill identified this as a possible crude cobble tool, in what would be similar to the tradition of Oldowan technology, taking a river cobble and making a couple of breaks to create a sharp working edge.  In addition to the focused flake removal here, it looks as if a face may have been created to take advantage of what the artist may have seen as a shape suggestive of a human head, with a serendipitous forehead and chin. The eyes may have been worked and the nose bridge between them was left alone and not ground away like the eye sockets.  The mouth area appears to have focused percussion to create visual differentiation of the stone in that place. 

This side appears to have wear indicating this flat, smooth, side was used for a rubbing type activity, as would be expected in food processing.  Maybe the face icon was incorporated into this tool so it could be seen and used in daily life. 

This kind of facial representation may indicate and expression of the lower to middle Paleolithic motif of "predator bite out of head" (Harrod, 2010).  So, the flaking to create the tool working edge is also the "bite" in the stone "head."  This same kind of mask stone is seen in a painting in a link on the right panel) to a Jan Evert Musch (archaeologist published on iconography) illustrated biography.

In the 9th painting here, the artist interprets some of the artifact types Musch has identified and one can see an illustration of a stone face, bite removed, like the one seen here.


Thanks to Sherry Hill for submitting her finds so they can be appreciated on portablerockart.com!

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