Denisovan Ancestry in East Eurasian and Native American Populations

10 May 2013

Psychological "PAH triad" described by Bustamante et al. may have triggered the Stone Age artistic judgments which transformed mimetoliths into artifacts

Licking County, Ohio, sculpture find interpreted by Ken Johnston as, alternately, depending on switching one's visual attention, a lion head looking right and a one-eyed lion face looking straight-on

Flint and quartz crystals have been ground away around the natural crystal-lined tunnel which serves as the lions' eye. The eye may have been somewhat hidden before this action was undertaken by the artist. This same lithic removal activity was undertaken around the eyes and beak of the flint and crystal owl which was the subject of an earlier posting.

This is the bottom side of the artifact, a ventral flake surface

Optical illusion: in addition to the lion head looking right, there is a depiction of a one-eyed lion, a Paleolithic art motif described earlier on this blog. The one-eyed lion is looking at the viewer straight on. It is as if the lion looking right has turned its head toward the viewer and revealed itself as having only one eye. I have made a mark up of the photo adding a black oval as the lion's missing left eye in order to orient one to this second face. The nose, cheeks, mouth and chin area of this lion's face have been worked to clarify the desired end form of the artist. (click photos to expand and compare).

When mimetoliths inspire artistic activity, the large amounts of surface area which remain untouched, or are only lightly touched, often makes it difficult to notice or detect artifactuality.

One of my purposes for this blog is to elevate mimetoliths, or rocks that look like things, to equal status of artifacts when they are found in archaeological contexts. Also, statistically large numbers of mimetoliths in a concentrated area may also be used to identify archaeological sites.

The judgment to pick up and transport a stone object, or manuport, to one's location constitutes an action which we may conclude bestows the object with a kind of artifact status even though the object itself has not been modified. Its location and context has been modified to bring it into the human activity sphere. That is the business of Archaeology.

Bustamante et al. may explain why these judgments to collect, and often modify, mimetoliths were made by prehistoric peoples. Below they lay out the definitions for the "PAH triad" which they address in their paper "Search for meanings: from pleistocene art to the worship of the mountains in early China. Methodological tools for Mimesis.

"-Pareidolia (psychological phenomenon): involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Psychological phenomenon related to the Rorschach test.

-Apophenia (psychological phenomenon): that describe the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined by Klaus Conrad (1958).

-Hierophany (psychological phenomenon): the perception of a manifestation of the sacred.

-PAH Triad (psychological phenomenona): Pareidolia-Apophenia-Hierophany working simultaneously, is changeable among diverse individuals. The PAH triad is part of the unconscious mechanisms inherent to every human being, present in the primary stages of the early development of the human conscience." - Bustamante, et al., 2011.

Of importance in the taphonomic logic process, the archaeological interpreter and his audience are also subject to the PAH triad. The portable rock art interpreter is subject to criticism by his audience as "fanciful," while his audience seems to ignore the universally important role of such "fanciful" observations by our equally human predecessors.

Side 2 and bottom of artifact seen with scale

This is the second flint and quartz crystal lion's head sculpture from Licking County, Ohio, featured on this blog, and one of several large portable rock art lion heads.

Reconstruction of Panthera leo atrox, the extinct Pleistocene North American Lion, with a relatively elongated head like the lion depicted in the Licking County, Ohio, sculpture.


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