07 November 2012

Flint handaxe may depict therianthropy or even human to animal shamanic transformation process

Human head looking left with glassy inclusion serving as mouth line

This handaxe from Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio, incorporates a human head profile with chin prominence. The person seems to have a headdress of some kind. While studying this piece I noticed it could well depict an animal head on top of, and combined with, the human head.

Illustration of carved circular animal eye, hypothetical location of human eye, and red line indicating stone inclusion incorporated as the mouth line of the face.

A famous Ohio Hopewell tradition portable rock art piece known as the Wray Figurine was found 10 miles away from this flint in the mounds of the Newark, Ohio, earthworks, the largest geometric earthworks in the world and a nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here is an illustration of what could be interpreted as an animal head and neck on top of the human head. (click photos to expand).

The Wray figurine depicting a Hopewell shaman in the act of transforming into a bear.  Height of figurine, 16 centimeters.  Recovered from one of the principal burial mounds at the Newark Earthworks (Dragoo and Wray 1964).

Side 2 with scale. The top edge shown here is the blade of a handaxe/chopper. The flint stands upright  with the facial profile looking downward.


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