17 January 2012

Flint Ridge Ohio "human head inside lion head" possible sculpture was not recognized as such before its destruction for lapidary purposes


Flint Ridge Ohio lion/human head sculpture was not recognized before its destruction for lapidary purpose (click photo to expand view)

This beautiful multi-colored flint piece weighing an estimated several pounds was recognized by Ken Johnston as possibly being an example of a lion head sculpture framing the outline of a human head where the lion and the human share the same "eye" or "eye spot" on the sculpture. This piece was photographed by Roy Miller, arguably the greatest living flintknapper in the world. It was found on his property at Flint Ridge and was offered for sale by Mr. Miller to someone who used the flint material for modern lapidary purposes.

It seems a Paleolithic artist may have recognized the creamy white flint band as a potential "lion Mouth" and worked the overall head shape around it. The human head was then created by removing layers of different colored material in the flint to highlight other natural features of the stone. Unfortunately, it was destroyed before it could be evaluated as a possible art piece.  The presence of what appears to be the now-extinct North American lion implies a Paleolithic (Pleistocene) age for the sculpture
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Ken Johnston has marked up and labeled the photo to illustrate his interpretation of this piece as a Lion/human head sculpture. Special thanks to Roy Miller for allowing me to use his photograph.

This and other examples show the combined lion head and human head theme may be found in the Americas just as it is found in Europe on examples such as the Kempen stone face.

-kbj

3 comments:

  1. <<< has similar hunks of Flint Ridge materials fond at Dillon Lake and Muskingum River And my parents yard. <<< wonders if i should inspect those pieces of flint closer :)

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  2. This is just a chunk of flint that Roy Miller dug out with his backhoe. No one has carved it or removed layers or has done anything to alter it in any way shape or form except for the bucket on the end of Roy's backhoe. I have been out there digging with those guys enough times to know what it looks like when it comes out of the ground! That rusty red color is just that - rust or limonite cause by an aqueous solution running through the cracks and layers of the bed of flint. That "creamy white" color is really a bluish-gray that is the actual flint showing through. Hell, I could find a lamb or a flying saucer among the clouds, but it doesn't make them real - it just makes them clouds! Besides, if someone has to draw circles and arrows in order to point out what they are seeing then it must be all in their head....I have a rock that a friend of mine picked up that looks like the head in the painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, but that doesn't mean someone carved it - it's just a rock that happens to look like something that I have imagined it to be......

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    1. [Thank you for taking time to leave your comment. My reply to your notes in [x] below]

      This is just a chunk of flint that Roy Miller dug out with his backhoe.

      [When I spoke with Roy about this rock he indicated it came out of the ground like this. Many of the flint blocks on Flint Ridge have already been created and accessed by prehistoric peoples and the debris is many feet thick in certain places, so no backhoe is needed to break flint from its outcrops but it helps to churn the quarry up. A theory I have is that pieces handled in the harvesting of suitable flint to work for tools may have been recognized and then altered to highlight perceived images.
      No one has carved it or removed layers or has done anything to alter it in any way shape or form except for the bucket on the end of Roy's backhoe.

      [Again, not my understanding according to my short conversation with Roy a while back. I acknowledge in the post that we don’t have the rock to assess artifactuality but that it is similar to other examples of lion head representations so I’m saying “be on the lookout for stuff like this” – I might be wrong or someone might find something similar.]

      I have been out there digging with those guys enough times to know what it looks like when it comes out of the ground! That rusty red color is just that - rust or limonite cause by an aqueous solution running through the cracks and layers of the bed of flint. That "creamy white" color is really a bluish-gray that is the actual flint showing through.

      [O.K.]

      Hell, I could find a lamb or a flying saucer among the clouds, but it doesn't make them real - it just makes them clouds!

      [O.K.]

      Besides, if someone has to draw circles and arrows in order to point out what they are seeing then it must be all in their head....

      [I beg to differ with you here. Art often has elusive properties which can be very subtle. This art especially because it takes advantage of naturally advantageous features, often incorporating natural or very lightly worked surfaces into iconography. One can contemplate a painting in a museum for an hour and then be completely surprised by what can be learned in a minute from a docent, an extension of a knowledgeable and skilled interpreter. I often use my girlfriend as a sounding board and ask her if she can see what I am talking about without having any visual orientation. If not, I am likely to make a mark up like this one. Once the patterns are seen enough times, people are able to better see the kinds of rocks that were collected and often modified by our ancestors.]

      I have a rock that a friend of mine picked up that looks like the head in the painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, but that doesn't mean someone carved it - it's just a rock that happens to look like something that I have imagined it to be......

      [You are correct. A rock that looks like something does not mean it’s an artifact. It is called a mimetolith. Mimetoliths can become manuports or can be selected as “starting points” in prehistoric portable rock art. In archaeology, context is everything. For example if your friend found the “The Scream” in a creek’s gravel bar it may not be able to tell us anything about our human past. If it is found in a prehistoric art or tool area, or habitation site, for example, it must be carefully assessed for artifactuality. If it is all natural, a geofact, then it might be classified as a “possible” or “likely” manuport, depending on the site and object. Pareidolia is built into the brain. Or ancestors would see a simple face on a rock just like we do. When context supports it, we need to look closely at these items.

      Thanks again for the comments.]

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