29 March 2013

Let's get small. Let's get really small. Attention to detail shows a world of stone micro-art is easy to miss if no one is looking

Lyn Niday find, Bird figure on chert flake, Buckeye Lake shore, Licking County, Ohio

The find here was made 200 feet from the find location of the Buckeye Lake sculpture hoard and its several pounds flint and crystal owl. It is just 25mm tall, a couple of mm thick, and would routinely be ignored by most archaeologists and collectors. I had to put it under a lighted 10x magnification to confirm my hunch it was a tiny intended bird figure.

There is a world of imagery recorded in artifacts made on small scales which have not been described by academic or amateur archaeology. They are so small they cannot be detected at a glance or without very close, careful examination. Scholars and collectors need to re-imagine the existence of art on seemingly unimportant small flakes of stone.

 “You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” 
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

In addition to a "birds eye," 6 additional holes have either been created or exploited along a straight line in what could be a representation of a spotted bird's wing. The male snowy owl has spots on its wing and white chert may signal a white bird is being depicted.

Flake from side 2. The outline of the bird figure profile facing left may be seen here too with head, beak, legs, tail feathers and flight wings.



  1. on side one 1 i see a running rabbit, ears blowing back, turning its head back laughing. the first two dots being its eyes. the rest of the dotted line being the split between its two ears.Also i believe there too be seven dots the last dot almost on the side at the end of the ears.i say this because ive seen the bird with the seven dots on it in a line.i call it the bird and the worm and think it relates to the seven harmonics.amazing find lyn.

  2. Hi Ken...

    That's an interesting piece. But to me it looks more like quartz than chert - one way or another, a difficult material to work.

    Understandably, micro-art in Figure Stones goes unnoticed, but it was, in fact, observed and described in several pieces by an amateur archaeologist almost ten years ago. A nice example is shown at http://www.daysknob.com/Cave_Bird.htm , a tiny bird head sculpted with the aid of fine sand inside a 5 mm diameter cavity drilled into a small piece of sandstone. The visual acuity and manual dexterity of those ancient artisans is amazing to me.

    A doctorate-level geologist/petrologist recognized this piece as an obvious artifact, but archaeology establishment types have usually responded to it with something like "That can't be real because why would an Indian do that?". (Sometimes I feel like I'm in a Monty Python episode...)

    Regards, Alan Day

  3. The lithic material here is a flake of Vanport Flint from Flint Ridge, Ohio. The holes on this object appear to be similarly made to those Alan has identified in an eye-like formation on a stone from Day's Knob.