30 March 2012

"Pissy Birds" figure stone has two angry birds, two love birds, two female figures and a vulture with an anthropomorphic face on its posterior

"Pissy Birds"
Found and interpreted by Mark Jones of the Washington, D.C., area


Mark Jones is a fossil hunter who accesses many of his collection sites by boat at Piney Point, Maryland, at the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. Mark also became an avocational archaeologist because he often finds Native American artifacts while looking for fossils. Because they look very closely at the rock material they are investigating, Mark and his wife began to notice patterns in many of the rocks which they could not attribute to natural processes due the large numbers of them in concentrated areas. In addition to the "one eye open, one eye closed" motif seen in European portable paleoart, they noticed a motif of paired birds, courting birds or "love birds." The area today remains the most significant flyway for birds to migrate and nest along the eastern coast of the United States. (click photos to expand)

One is immediately struck by the female figure. The natural rock lent itself perfectly to the artist who made incisions to better define the rump transition into the lower back. That same line also creates two bird heads which have protruding beaks and one eye each in their profile view, quite distinctly facing away from each other. Contrary to the normative theme of love birds, which Mark and his wife call "Kissy Birds," this figure stone seems to depict the birds in a human-like position of being "back to back" while angry. So, they call this figure stone "Pissy Birds."


In the first of the three photos in this series, Mark Jones provides a view of the pissy birds. 

In the middle photo, when the stone is viewed upside-down, a female figure of a torso from the front may be seen. At what would be nape of the neck of the full-busted woman, two elements come together at the top center of the figure in a "kissy birds" form.
Jan van Es has described the importance of the "cosmic egg" in paleoart and one may interpret the buttocks and breasts as somewhat egg-like, perhaps symbolic of the fertility implied by the figure. 

In the last photo is a view of a buzzard or vulture from the left rear where the rounded part at the very top is the head of the bird with its beak visible to the left.  Finally, on the posterior of the vulture, double incised lines define the hairline of an anthropomorphic face with two manufactured eyes and a slightly grinning mouth which may be a natural stone feature.

Alan Day of Day's Knob uses the term "janiform" to describe figure stones with two creatures facing away each other like Janus of mythology. So, this may be thought of as a kind of "double janiform" with the pissy birds and the vulture and the face.

A special thanks to Mark Jones for sharing his figure stone and for providing such excellent photographs. Here is a link to the original posting of a "Kissy Birds" figurine identified by Mark.

-kbj

25 March 2012

Ride a painted pony... microart carving, in slight bas relief, of a possible horse was made with three different pigments- red, black and white

Dennis Boggs pebble art find, Irrigon, Oregon, Columbia River valley

Dennis Boggs collected stones he suspected had been humanly worked because of their concentrations and repeating patterns.  Dennis gifted his 50-year collection to portablerockart.com so it could be examined and shared with the public.  For reference, his collection comes from about 40 miles downriver from Kennewick, Washington.

After a 10x magnification loop inspection of the unique red, black and white coloration on this little grey rock, Ken Johnston detected the image of a four legged mammal, seeming somewhat horse-like. At 3cm in size, one can understand how this kind of art has missed the attention of archaeology officialdom. What would be the horse's nose/nostrils is a chip in the stone in anatomically correct position, and made after the pigmentation was completed. It is about 1x2 millimeter in size.  The nose seems to be included in detail like this in many stone images, as if to animate the creature with the breath of life.

Microart is extremely difficult to detect in the field and most commonly gets screened out and dumped as meaningless burden stones. Archaeologists need to closely examine every single piece of rock, even tiny ones, from their sites so art pieces like this can be discovered and further described.  

(click photos to expand and see details)

This artifact is available for testing by qualified archaeologists.  X-ray fluorescence may help identify the substances used for the three-level pigmentation process on this carving.  Red was applied first, then black, then white.  It seems one of two eye concavities has black pigment applied, while the other eye has no pigment. This may be an expression of the "one eye open, one eye closed" motif known from other American and European finds. 


Nothing special from this view, unless the pebble is examined and then one discovers the anomalous coloration suggesting artifact status.


This side is clean of all pigments and shows the natural color of the pebble. The pebble stands upright on a flat base.  

If the animal depicted is indeed a horse, it would indicate a Pleistocene or Pleistocene-Holocene transition age for this exquisite red, black and white pebble microcarving.

22 March 2012

More Buckeye Lake, Ohio, bird head profile figures found in a cluster

Bird heads in profile identifiable by species: Ruffed Grouse (top), Male American Bald Eagle (mid), and Belted Kingfisher (bottom)

Bird heads are one of the most common motifs in portable rock art found in the United States.  The three specimens above were found in a cluster in an agricultural field now mostly covered by a highway rest area, near the modern day shore of Buckeye Lake, in Licking Township, Licking County, Ohio. Another example of a turkey bird head from this site was featured in an earlier post.  Pam Douglass, another amateur who works sites about 8km distance, also reports finding multiple "birds" and "bird heads" in concentrations.

Ruffed Grouse, king of 2-5 acre territory, males pound tails on hollow "drum logs" to defend area and attract mates. Survives the hardest winters which kill off other game birds like pheasant and turkey

American Bald Eagle (male), apex predator of the bird world


Belted Kingfisher, sits on a branch overlooking water and dive-bombs into the water to catch fish. The Kingfisher figure stone was executed in "Coschocton Blue" flint and includes a creamy inclusion at the neck just like bird.  Both the bird and the flint have a very similar slate blue coloration.  

-kbj

19 March 2012

Master flintknapper Bob Doyle of Maine identifies a bird figure stone (and describes his work)

Bob Doyle find, coast of Maine, identified as an artifact
(click photos to expand)

Bob Doyle is a master flintknapper and stonework replicator.  He has been investigating carvings and figure stones on the Maine coast for many years. He has done work on identifying the often obscure stone working techniques used to create or carve figure stones, such as drilling linked spots on the stone to weaken it and create a line of fracture for controlled stone removal.  Bob writes, “…the attached bird...'flint bird'... he is a tool...[a shaver, I suspect]. There is a tell-tale polish on his front side, and he fits nicely in ones hand if it were being used...”


This could have been a natural stone which was recognized as "bird-like" and utilized as a simple tool in prehistory.  The eye could have been added to provide the confirmation of the animation of the stone as a "bird."  Boucher de Perthes claimed the presence of an eye in an anatomically correct position was a sign of artificial modification and can be "a sure sign of intent" to create a figure stone. 

View of the rear of the flint.

Bob Doyle at work at one his Maine sites

Bob writes: "As far as time lines in regard to the making of these carved [animals, humans,etc.] I could only guess...in my searches I do not dig into stratified sites...mostly I'm taking artifacts from river banks, shell middens are productive...but again I won't dig into one...I take the pieces that are about ready to fall into the ocean, or into a river or river bank...I visit my sites often enough to recover material before it begins to deteriorate...

The people that created (a shell midden) are known as 'the red paint people...no archaeological record of the red paint people can be found after about 3500 years ago...so my long winded point is that carvings were being created in quartz, and other hard stone 3500 years b.p.

I have been trying to find a site that is within a couple of thousand years old that might contain carved material...but as I mentioned I don't dig into the earth to find most of my artifacts...it is a bit of a handicap...but I think the 'so called experts’ will become enlightened before too long...I know of a dozen sites where wonderful things are oozing from the earth...but at this point in time I cannot say whether carved stones evolved through time through European contact...if they did they [the carvings] probably became smaller...

If you're ever in this area I'd like to show you some of the sites I'm referring to...there are many carvings, but most are blind, and are unable to see them...sunny sunshine...bob"

-kbj

15 March 2012

Incised lines on stone material at archaeological sites must be documented and not ignored

(click photos to expand)
The Lijnen Tablet, artifact discovery and illustration by archaeologist Jimmy Groen, Vaals, The Netherlands

Jimmy Groen reports his discovery: "Yesterday I found a part of a large shale rock, that was found in the context of various types of pebble tools, estimated to be from the former Maas/ Meuse channel edge, from an estimated pre-Saalian date, (indicated by tool technology and horizon context (= dark yellow loamy fluvial sand deposition containing angular pebbles).

The (broken) part of this more rather large and very thick shows small lines, intentionally made on the edge. (see a drawing and a photo of the object). The object is only partially visible, the big part is covered in sand. I found an article on the subject.  The article is called: 100,000 year old rock star. The carvings look a bit the same..." -Jimmy Groen, March 14, 2012

As Jimmy found, scholars and researchers give attention to incised lines on rocks found in an archaeological context. When they are found and identified, they need to be documented and described and inventoried with other site artifacts. Jimmy's tracing of his lines on the rock is a perfect way to record and communicate to others the nature of the lines.

John Feliks, a founder of the Pleistocene Coalition, has written a series of four articles on incised line rocks from the Bilzengsleben site in Germany. His work demonstrates beyond any doubt the highest levels of cognition, creativity and intelligence among Homo erectus peoples around 350,000 years ago- like our own today. He does this using a series of falsifiable mathmatical and geometric proofs so hard science has been brought to bear on the topic of incised lines. Links to the article series follow:

The graphics of Bilzingsleben series - Scientific misconduct over ancient artifact studies and why you should care - John Feliks

Part 1: Proof of straight edge use by Homoerectus

Part 2: Censoring the world’s oldest human language

Part 3: Base grids of a suppressed Homo erectus knowledge system

Part 4: 350,000 years before Bach

In America, some of the very few confirmed pieces of portable rock art with incised lines are from the Gault site in Texas. Of 135 or so pieces, only about a dozen are confirmed from Clovis culture levels and others are earlier or later or undetermined.


This piece (from Gault, TX) demonstrates radial lines originating from the point on the left side to cross the entire plaque. There are parallel lines in a diamond pattern laid over the radial lines.



Illustration of some of the Gault art objects.

An Oregon find, near Columbia River at Irrigon.

Blog publisher Ken Johnston studied this golden composite ellipse shaped rock with branching incised lines and discovered a pictograph of a bird emerging from an egg while being fed by mother's beak and while being leered at by a feline.  So, a seemingly unimportant rock with some lines on it may contain valuable information for study by archaeological science.


-kbj

10 March 2012

The "Kempen stone phallus" is the oldest known icon of the male organs and perhaps even artificially modified

The "Kempen stone phallus" from Belgium is the oldest known icon of the male organs and perhaps even artifically modified (click photos to expand)

Exclusively for portablerockart.com, archaeologist Jimmy Groen writes of his find: "At a site at the plateau in the Belgian Kempen, where some drain channels were made, I find many pebble tool artifacts. Some of the artifacts were found in situ, in a reworked early- Saalian horizon, which means they were made before the Saalian period, most probably before 300.000 BP. This is also, because I found small tools, like micro choppers. Tomorrow I go to France to see the French archaeologist H. Beaudouin, and I will show him tools and debitage waste- to discuss them. In this pebble tool assemblage I found this remarkable object, I believe everybody has the same imagination about it: like a 'phallus symbol"- another form of iconicity?

When I look for artifacts, I see many, many pebbles. This type of pebble, fluvial flint is rare in the Kempen area, I even cannot remember having found and seen it in the Kempen before. But, the site where it was found is unique, as it is the last final Cromerian Period (ca. 600.000 BP- 500.000 BP) area in the Kempen. Flint (in the form of small tools) were found in the context.


It is realistic, so maybe it was used for some fertility dance/ritual, or whatever symbolic. About the object, there might be some little retouch (marked with the black little arrows). Another remarkable thing is, the whole object is coarse, except the handle: exact two places at the side of the handle are patinated ( smooth, shining) maybe from handling the object(on the photos, marked with the yellow line)." -Jimmy Groen, Vaals, The Netherlands



In a separate analysis by Ken Johnston, in this view, the object from Belgium, the "Kempen stone phallus," takes on a zoomorphic appearance where the rounded portion depicts the head, two eyes and mouth of a creature.  It could be taken as a lion in left profile lying down while stretched out and turning toward the viewer and letting out a "roar."  The stem at left is the front legs, and the stem at right is the back and body of the animal.

A cuttlefish fossil cast resembling a flaccid penis was recovered from a former dwelling floor in Morocco's Sahara desert and determined to be completely natural.  As a "manuport," not modified by humans other than being recognized, moved and likely curated, it was dated to the Final Acheulean at around 200,000 years old.  Thanks to originsnet.org for the link to information about the Erfoud manuport object.

The Belgian "Kempen Stone Phallus" discovered and identified by archaeologist Jimmy Groen is significant for the following reasons:

It was found in an older archaeological context than the Erfoud, Morocco, cuttlefish example, among tools from a unique industry.

It is a highly exotic lithic material compared to other materials from the same site, clearly at least a manuport.

It appears to have evidence of patination of the correct surfaces which would have contacted a human hand while the object is optimally held using its handle-like feature.

It may indicate retouch by the artist to enhance the phallus-like appearance of the rock.

It may be a polymorophic sculpture, with a zoomorphic creature, possibly a feline, depicted when the object sits upright.

Plausibly, it may have been used as a functional item, icon also as tool.

04 March 2012

Examination of "Old Route 66 Zoo" site's suspected figures establishes it as a prehistoric sculpture mega-site

Stacy Dodd's find from south west Missouri, Old Route 66 Zoo site
(click photos to expand)

Confirmed artifact by a top national master flintknapper and stoneworking expert.  From central Ohio, it has a similar construction to the Missouri find

Please compare these two sculptures, top from Missouri, bottom from Ohio featured in a prior post.  The morphological similarities between these two rodent or rabbit creatures, especially the expression of the tail, suggests they were created within the framework of culturally defined parameters, perhaps the same cultural tradition.  They were found about 700 miles, or 1,125 km, from each other. 

Stacy Dodd and his family traveled from Memphis, Tennessee, to Zanesville, Ohio, with about 150 suspected sculptures from the "Old Route 66 Zoo" site in south west Missouri.  We met Saturday, March 3, and I had a chance to examine and photograph some of the 150 suspected sculptures selected from this site.  The number of pieces was overwhelming and was too much material to study in one day.  So, in my initial exposure to this collection, my goal was look for attributes which I thought could relate to finds from other American and European sites.

Mr. Dodd and the landowner of the site are having difficulty getting the attention of local archaeologists due to the unique nature of their finds.  This 5 acre parcel is open to archaeological science, to qualified investigators who have interest in recovering portable rock art sculptures in situ.  There are hundreds more suspected sculptures in the ground as they are visible near surface level and then "are packed" in mass over many square feet, according to Mr. Dodd.  Several verified flaked tools have been discovered at the site, but their association to the sculptures is not yet confirmed. It is very possible additional tools will be recovered along with sculptures if an archaeologist wishes to pursue a test dig at this site.



Like the Ohio example, this sculpture appears to exhibit polymorphic properties. When one adjusts the angle of view just 15 degrees to the right as compared to the photo at very top, the rabbit or rodent head morphs into a fish image as if leaping from the water. Here is that view, slightly more from the rear, and then a mark up of the same photo to illustrate the fish. The "water" is the body of the rodent, indicated by the blue line. The "ear" of the rodent in this perspective is the flaring dorsal fin of the leaping fish.

This kind of transforming optical illusion polymorphism is a defining characteristic to this kind of art. It's a case of the classic double entendre, an implied double-meaning, which is so revered among "the witty" of contemporary cultures. The old artists had the ability to include multiple images in one object, as if displaying their wits in the permanency of stone to others of cultures long gone. (click photos to expand).

Alan Day  Mar 5, 2012 02:03 PM
Hi Ken...
Spotting this stuff in a photo is usually a bit risky, but from here it seems Stacy's lithic rodent might be a classic janiform - with a face profile at each end looking in opposite directions, typically one being zoomorphic and the other more or less anthropomorphic. See http://www.daysknob.com/Janus.htm for some fairly distinct examples of this. Mac Poole's excellent quartz bird from North Carolina seems thematically particularly similar.
 

01 March 2012

American Pueblo Zuni might have appreciated this rock found in an Indiana creek bed

A rock found in an Indiana creek bed has no other context information. The Zuni, with an art modality of incorporating natural forms into their animal fetish art, might have found something like this to be significant. (click photo to expand)

"Native Americans have long carried interesting or unusual “charm stones” believing they bring luck, power or protection. The A-shi-wi, Zuni Pueblo Indians, like most Native American Indians, feel that animals and plants have spiritual nature. A fetish is an object, natural or shaped by man, in which an animal spirit is thought to reside. Stones that naturally resemble animals are “concretion” fetishes. Concretions and stones that require very little carving to bring out an image are considered more powerful than fetishes that require a great deal of carving. (empahsis added)


In short, the reason goes back to when the Zuni believe that the world was once covered by floodwaters that left it swampy. The Sun Father, revered by the Zuni as the giver of life and light, created twin sons giving them a magic shield, a bow {the rainbow} and arrows {lightning}. The Twins realized the world was too wet for mankind to survive so they placed their shield, the rainbow, crossed lightning arrows on top of the rainbow and shot an arrow into the point where they crossed and lightning flew out creating a tremendous fire. This dried the earth but made it too easy for predators to catch and eat people. To save humanity, the Twins struck these animals with their lightning, shriveling them into stone. But deep within, the animal’s hearts were kept alive, with instructions to help mankind with the magic captured within them. When a Zuni finds a stone that naturally resembles an animal, this is one of these ancient stone animals." (From southwestsilvergallery.com)

-kbj

An elephant figure with tool element at peak of head from The Netherlands

Identified as an elephant figure by Jan van Es, found at Beegdan, The Netherlands. van Es has 40 years experience researching images in stone. (Click photo to expand)

Van es thinks it is possible there is a functional protrusion at the peak of the head. It appears in the photo to have been worked. In paleoart, sometimes a "bump on the  head" was used to help portray proboscidean creatures.  Please note how The Netherlands figure stone has a second bump in the middle representing the peak of the (mammoth's?) back.  In the carved ivory example pictured below, there is a similar peak to the back of the mammoth.

Jan's web site is under reconstruction at this writing and with some limited images and content still available. Please visit it in the future for a excellent study of figure stones from The Netherlands and Holland. Originsnet.org has a nice gallery of his finds from another site at Boukoul.



This example in carved ivory dated to around 35,000 B.P. demonstrates how the art of the Wooly Mammoth accounts for the rounded part of the mammoth's head and the high, arched, back.  It is from a Speigel article from 2007.

-kbj