19 June 2013
Tennessee bird mimetolith inspired prehistoric stone work to animate it with an eye and create a sharp edge on its belly (source of eggs), creating a bird/tool
Sherry Hill find, Doe River valley, Carter County, Tennessee
This once fully natural pebble was recognized to have a strong resemblance to a bird by someone in Stone Age prehistory. Mimetoliths are naturally occurring rocks which resemble other objects known to the viewer. A psychological phenomenon described by Bustamante, et al. as the "PAH triad" may be responsible for stimulating the desire of someone to make modifications to the stone, transforming it into an artifact in the strict sense. This stone has been modified to add an eye, which disambiguates the bird form enough to make it a "real, living bird." This animation, a kind of rectification of serendipitous finds, is seen on many postings on this blog and may be thought of as a defining characteristic of this forsaken art modality.
Stone was chipped away on the under belly of the bird, the symbolic source of eggs, to create a sharp tool edge, as is seen in this earlier example in flint from Licking County, Ohio, where the bird's belly is also a sharp edge. For the maker of this artifact the power to slice, to cut into something, is regarded as strong as the force of life itself and analogous to the power of the symbolic cosmic egg as represented by a bird's belly.
Amateur archaeologist Sherry Hill also identified an exquisite bird figure worked around a gemstone like eye inclusion which was featured in an earlier posting on this blog.
Side 2 with tool edge visible along the bottom of the bird
Stone removal along the belly and tail of the bird created a sharp edge suitable for use as a tool
The "bird/tool" as it is optimally held for use (click photos to expand)
Carter County, Tennessee
Licking County, Ohio
Sulldorf, Hamburg, Germany, Mousterian bird figure, archaeologist Walther Matthes, ca. 1960. (source originsnet.org)