27 July 2012

Portrait in exotic green glass from glacial overlook site which produced other art sculptures and flint profiles

Licking County, Ohio, find by Ken Johnston.  

Exotic green glass material has been flaked and retouched to create a likeness of a human head and face in left profile view, where the rough cortex part of the stone is serving as the person's hair. This was not the only item of flint-like material found at this disturbed soil site on a hilltop which produced "Sir Nameless," the Siberian like bird and the elephant/human art pieces.

The green glass here was confirmed to be human manufactured and not a natural rock by a prominent university lithics lab and by others with experience at Corning Glass Corp.


-kbj

25 July 2012

American cave with underground river has carvings similar to Koonalda cave, Australia, lattice or grid pattern

Koonalda cave, Australia, carved lattice pattern

Photo © R. Edwards, in L. Maynard and R. Edwards, in Wright, R. V. S. (ed.). 1971. Archaeology of the Gallus Site, Koonalda Cave. Canberra: Australian Institute for Aboriginal Studies: Plate 33. More information from originsnet.org

Seneca cavern, Ohio, carved lattice or grid pattern

Although not portable rock art, the grid, or lattice, motif is known to rock art scholars. Its possible presence in the Americas, in Ohio, may provide support for the hypothesis of paleo rock art being found here as well. I noticed two side by side grids in a Bellevue, Ohio, cavern which was present during the Pleistocene. Its surface contact points were plugged with glacial mud during the Wisconsinin glaciation which may have hidden/blocked the cave from human access for some time. The cavern was discovered by two boys rabbit hunting in the mid 19th century who stumbled onto a sinkhole which led to an entry. These grids were on a flat surface which presented a nice "seat" at the edge of a room in the cavern.

If one compares this grid to a profile of the cavern system (last photo), it seems the grid could be a kind of map. There are seven levels to the cavern and seven "ladder sections" in the middle of the grid as seen below.

Seneca cavern 25cm grid with markups highlighting lines. The starts and stops indicate the grid was constructed with deliberation greater than just etching perpendicular lines. There is small amount of modern grafitti in the cavern from the 19th and early 20th centuries before the landowner installed an iron gate. It is along the line of "James loves Harriet." Although there is no way to prove these are prehistoric grids, their underground river context similar to Koonalda's, supports their antiquity.

There were other possible art features in this cave which I plan to return to with better lighting and photography equipment. It seems North American cave art needs to be more thoroughly investigated. The landowner said no one had ever examined Seneca cavern for art before my visit.

A second 15 cm grid was next to the larger grid. (click photos to expand)

A profile map of the Seneca caverns, Bellevue, Ohio

-kbj

23 July 2012

Rick Doninger identifies similar animal and bird figures from Tennessee

Rick Doninger found and identified animal and bird figures, west Tennessee
(click photos to expand)

Red and yellow ocher crayons were found in association with the figures

Thank you Rick for sharing your finds.

-kbj

19 July 2012

Ronda Eldridge "just seeing things" makes find in Central Texas which compares favorably with Missouri and Maine sculptures also identified as bird forms

Ronda Eldridge find, Central Texas.

Ronda Eldridge is an avocational archaeologist and artifact collector in Central Texas. She discovered a cluster of bird forms and bird head figures in a 15 x 15 ft. section of her property, and a continuing over-abundance of zooanthropomorphic figures which defy natural attribution. Ronda will kindly be sharing photos of her finds and has more on the way because the figures are becoming so numerous now that she is able to identify them.

Stacy Dodd And Rod Weber find, 23JP1222, Missouri


Ronda wrote an excellent description of her experience, which is similarly shared by untold numbers of amateurs and avocationalists each year:

"Hi Kenneth,

My name is Ronda Eldridge and I live in central Texas.  I just finished looking over your blog and found it very interesting.  I live in an fascinating little place in "the middle of nowhere" as folks here like to say.  The property on which I live has a creek adjacent to it and there is a lot of evidence that indians lived here.  I have had fun during the last five years collecting up points, blades, etc. and recently bought some books and began doing research to help identify my artifacts.  One evening while I was out walking around, I came across a rock that looked like a bird's head.  Then another, and another.  All of these were in one area and some of them appeared to have paint on them.  There were other animal shapes and some human-looking ones as well but the amount that looked like bird heads was overwhelming. I got online and began searching for information to help me identify what I was finding and I found very little.  So, I contacted the archeology professor at the university where I teach music and he really wasn't much help.  The exchange was via email and I think he believed I was claiming to see bird bones in the rock material itself.  After that I posted some examples on a site called arrowheadology.com and I was told I was seeing things.  My husband thinks I am seeing things also.  I don't believe I am seeing things.I have found rocks that have either: natural bird shapes; natural bird shapes with "details" scratched, chipped, or painted into them; rocks that have been slightly modified to look like bird shapes; and rocks that have been outright worked to look like bird shapes.  Since this discovery, I went back into my pile of knife-type tools that I couldn't fit into one of the categories in my books and I discovered some of the bird-type figures and modifications.  

So, everyone I've talked with so far (especially my family) thinks I am crazy.  My thinking is that this land has been held/lived on by white settlers since 1850 (our homesite was a trading post and then general store/post office).  NOBODY has ever looked at this specific place (of which I am aware) for artifacts other than arrowheads.  Just the amount of rough tools (such as nutting stones, metates, etc.) indicate that this area was heavily populated....as does the creek with the beautiful tall ridge behind it.  I have found relatively few points in comparison to the amounts of tools, etc. but those points fit several ages with the oldest that I can tell being a perfect Golindrina point.  

I've attached in power point format some pictures with notes about what I believe I may be seeing. 

I could really use some advice. Am I just seeing things?

I appreciate your time.  
--Ronda Eldridge"

-kbj

16 July 2012

A whale of a figure stone

Interpreted by Ken Johnston as a Sperm whale head figure stone
Dennis Boggs collection, Irrigon, Oregon, Columbia River valley



The base of the whale head has been ground flat so as to better support the figure and present it at the desired angle from the horizontal plane.

When viewing the "whale head" upside down, a quasi-anthropomorphic face may be seen. It is of striking similarity to another "stone face" identified by Mr. Boggs himself from the same locale.

-kbj

15 July 2012

Sculpted Neanderthal head from Germany may have Oregon and Ohio North American analogs

Finding by rock art and tool investigator Hans Grams, Germany
"Head of a Neanderthal: 25 kilograms, 36 x 33 x 17 centimeters"

Finding by James May, at the mouth of the Columbia River gorge, Oregon, identified by Ken Johnston as a possible Neanderthal head sculpture, left profile view.

James May find, Oregon. The triangular shaped carved "eye" on this sculpture is above, and slightly to the left, of the finger in this photo.

The point at far left of the stone may be interpreted as the nose of the human head. The Germany and Oregon, USA, heads have a very similar facial profile with prominence of the mid-face. That is, the nose is seen far forward and the chins and foreheads recede from there. This is in line with the Neanderthal facial morphology as reconstructed based on fossil skull data. A similar expression of this type of facial structure is seen in this post of some smaller artifacts from Arizona and Ohio, also suspected of being Neanderthal head figures. Paleolithic art scholar and author Pietro Gaietto, indicates human heads are one of the 8 most common sculpture types of that time.

This example of a human head sculpture in flint from Ohio also has mid-facial prominence and a triangular eye as is seen the Oregon example.

-kbj

13 July 2012

23JP1222 Missouri sculpture is similar to example from Savona, Italy

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, the "Old Route 66 Zoo" site in south west Missouri. This has been interpreted as an anthropomorphic head sculpture in right profile view, with an elongated neck or stem.  Above and below photos are by, and courtesy of, figure stone investigator Alan Day, of Cambridge, Ohio.

The neck or stem on both the Missouri and Italy examples seem suitable for gripping the stone with the hand while the face could be manipulated. I hypothesize these items were used as puppets, maybe as toys or as part of a shamanistic practice of some kind. Photo by Alan Day.

Example from Italy, illustration Copyright (c) Pietro Gaietto

Gaietto writes, "Fig. 4.29) Lithic Sculpture. It represents a head of Homo sapiens sapiens with neck.
Size: Height cm. 27.
Place of origin: S.Pietro d'Olba, Savona, Italy.
Material culture: upper Paleolithc.
Worked from two sides, it is nearly a frontal representation. This type of sculpture, with high and robust neck, is present in several anthropomorphic menhirs at Carnac, with several types of Homo sapiens sapiens.
Collection Museum of the Origins of Man."

-kbj

10 July 2012

An Acheulean jasper scraper from the Grand-Pressigny, central France, which pairs human and baboon heads like previously described example

Acheulean jasper scraper from the Grand-Pressigny, central France
Collection of Ken Johnston, this perspective interpreted as a human face in right profile view

Typology : Pointed Side Scraper.
Material : Yellow Jasper.
Cutting : This implement was cut in a Jasper pebble.  A few flakes were cut to create the pointed sub-triangular shape. The three points and the edges were finely retouched. Both faces and one side were left mostly cortical to ensure a strong and safe grip.
Dating, hominid : This implement belongs to the Acheulean Culture (Lower Paleolithic period, circa 300 000 to 650 000 years ago), and was conceived by Homo HEIDELBERGENSIS ( European Erectus ).
Origin : Found in the area of the Grand-Pressigny, in the center of the France; discovered in the Creuse's ancient riverbed.
Sizes :  3 7/8 inches X 3 7/8 inches or 9.5 cm X 9.5 cm
Weight :  280 g
Condition :  Intact, no modern damage

Click photos to expand and compare


A somewhat similar facial profile identified by Dennis Boggs, Boardman, Oregon, on this beautiful translucent crystal laden flake (a "lithophane," Johnston) where the crystal area (cortex) may be seen to serve as "hair" in the anthropomorphic facial profile. The artifact depicts a left facial profile which has been inverted in this  photo to allow comparison against the French example from the same perspective

This second right facial profile on the same artifact seems more zoomorphic than anthropomorphic. It may an intentional representation of an animal such as a baboon


Please see this posting from about one year ago where I described a human face and a baboon face incorporated into an Acheulean handaxe, also from France. This second example illustrated today seems to confirm the possibility the baboon/human pairing was a widely expressed motif in that area which amateur and professional archaeologists should be aware of. They are, in fact, decorated tools, existing in the realm of early human art and spirituality as well as function.

Acheulean jasper scraper from the Grand-Pressigny, central France
Collection of Ken Johnston

The above perspective shows how elusive possible iconography is to collectors and archaeologists working in the field. The above photo, showing the artifact as perhaps taken at usual "macro level" of archaeological interpretation, may be seen as a relatively insignificant worked block of flint. Only upon very close examination of the retouch work can the details of possible zooanthropomorphic forms be revealed. With this more "micro" level of examination of artifacts in existing collections and at sites yet to be discovered, it will be seen that Boucher de Perthes himself was correct is positing the existence of art right with the tools of his "antedelluvian man."

-kbj

05 July 2012

Ohio Paleolithic biface has "pair of beaks," suggesting long hypothesized symbolic meaning of Clovis fluted points is as a stylized owl's head where the flute came to replace the specific eyes and beaks of the earliest forms

Ken Johnston surface find near Buckeye Lake, Licking County, Ohio. The base of the bifacial artifact resembles an owl head with carved beaks on both sides when turned point end toward ground.
(click photos to expand) 

This broken Paleolithic biface with stylistic pre-Clovis characteristics was recognized a few years ago as being "owl-like" and as having seemingly manufactured, "beak-like," features on both sides in more or less correct anatomical placement. This 2nd Ohio Paleolithic "owl" point has a "pair of beaks," suggesting, along with the two-eyed example (see June 24 posting prior to this one), the long hypothesized symbolic meaning of Clovis fluted points is now further describable as a stylized owl where the flute came to replace the specific eyes and beaks of the earliest forms. The Clovis "base" became more concave in order to exaggerate the depiction of "owl ears" in order to remove any visual ambiguity about its form being of an owl. The eyes and beak of the owl came to be represented by the thinning fluting actions, perhaps as indicators/symbols of both individual stone working skill and the predatory stealth of the bird. 

Maybe to artistically handle a cultural move away from shorter points, they were then expressed in the most beautifully extreme examples such as the Cumberland tradition with the "owl body" having a more fully exaggerated and stylized form and the flute continuing toward the tip of the point, as if "eyes and beak" are physically penetrating the flesh of prey. Cumberland may have been the original, "very sophisticated, stylized owl" form, from which less flamboyant Clovis "owl" points followed. 

The suspected intended owl beaks are carved into the flint using a number of starts and stops which are evident in the "ziz-zag" nature of the compositions when viewed closely. One points to the right, the other points to the left. There may be some environmental matrix material adhering to the artifact inside the cracks created by the carve marks.


Click any photo on page to expand view

A Clovis point study from Lake County, Ohio, Len & Janie Weidner collection.

This markup on the owl-eyed Ohio Paleolithic biface from the prior blog posting suggests the placement of the indents is the function of the human mind that created the point rather than some freak of nature. There are no indents on the reverse side. These two indents seem guided and placed by an aesthetic sense of symmetry. What are the statistical probabilities of them being natural, having formed after the point was made, in these positions? Seem slim to me.

-kbj