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.

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