30 September 2013

The Hide Scraper of la Roche-Cotard?


The recent discovery of Neanderthal exploitation of the pliability quality of bone to make tools to assist in leather working makes it possible the "Mask" of la Roche-Cotard is a remnant of a compound tool of stone and bone. The bone was inserted into the stone which may have served as a handle which brought leverage to the pliable bone in order to be a more effective tool. The bone broke during use and was left in the stone to be interpreted by some today as the "eyes" in an intentional face mask representation.

It is possible it was an intended mask figure or that it was recognized in prehistory as such but we have no way to know because no similar iconography has been identified. There is no macro context of formal art to support this object as an intended face figure. It could be an informal piece or an idiosyncratic artistic expression but it seems more unlikely now in light of Neanderthal use of bone tools.  


Illustration by Ken Johnston

The flint handle may have been the basis of a compound tool which was made to accommodate interchangeable bone scraper blades. The blades were secured by insertion of little pebble wedges, two of which are found in this artifact. The bone may have been too difficult to extract after this break and its functionality as a tool abandoned.

-kbj

24 September 2013

Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, natural bird form stones may have inspired the Stone Age artists to depict a symbolic bird/mammoth/human combination and a turkey head along with a "bird-Venus"

 

Bearded man head profile looking left where the man's beard is also a bird form with wing raised in flight. The tip of the man's "beard" is the tip of the bird's "beak."

The bird's "eye" also serves as the man's "mouth" in the depiction. 

The man's "nose and forehead" may be seen as a depiction of a mammoth front profile, with the tip of the man's "nose" also being the tip of the mammoth "trunk."

Bird and mammoth combined make up old man's left facial profile on top part of stone

A sculpture from the "Old Route 66 Zoo" site number 23JP1222, Missouri, has also been interpreted as having a human face depiction where the man's chin (beard) is also a bird. The anthropomorphic head profile is seen facing right in the first photo. When the sculpture is rotated 180 degrees, the "chin" or "beard" of the man is seen to depict a perched bird (photo at right above).

The find locations of the Arkansas and Missouri sculpture examples featured here are about 150 miles apart.

 Find by Jeff Vincent, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. This piece is interpreted to depict a turkey head and a smaller bird below it. Photos by Jeff Vincent.

Illustration of interpreted forms. A turkey head at top and a smaller bird at bottom with human breasts including nipples. The little bird with breasts may be interpreted as a "bird-Venus" which has been described by figure stone researcher Alan Day.

-kbj

23 September 2013

Mary Leakey may have found oldest known artwork at Olduvai Gorge, FLK North, Upper Bed 1, 1.75 to 1.76 million years old, studies to continue through 2015

"The FLK North Pecked Cobble"
Mary Leakey find, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

"Harrod, J. (2013). Symbolic behavior (palaeoart) at two million years ago: The Olduvai Gorge FLK North Pecked Cobble: The earliest artwork in human evolution. Session: Archaeology and the science of rock art. IFRAO International Rock Art Congress 2013, Albuquerque, NM, USA. IFRAO presentation is 16 slides extracted from this 39 slide pdf in turn extracted from a 110 slide version work-in-progress. This 39 slide version focuses on Homo habilis capacity for perceiving and applying design principles into tools and palaeoart; the full version contains hypothetical reconstructions of Homo habilis neural substrates for numerosity and the act of making markings on an art medium."

"A line is a dot that went for a walk" - Paul Klee

Mary Leakey working at Olduvai Gorge, early 1970's.

UPDATE 9/24/2013: Researchers including J. Harrod are setting aside figuration aspects of this stone until it can be examined in-person by a team of experts to assess it completely for artificial modification. This work may be completed in Tanzania in 2014 or 2015. Mary Leakey's early observations are still relevant to the investigation.

-kbj

19 September 2013

"Feline face combined with egg" depictions from Ohio and Missouri similar to Oregon and Belgian Kempen examples and all together may be examples of an art motif

Ken Johnston find, Buckeye Lake, Ohio
 
Interpreted as a worked quartz feline face on an egg-shaped stone. It was found in a strong context of other suspected portable rock art pieces. The distinctly feline face was noticed in the field and it looked like a "cat with a big head," now interpreted as the feline and egg form. (Click photos to expand).

The mammoth/bison combination sculpture from 23JP1222 featured in the previous posting has been interpreted to also depict a feline face and egg form visually integrated into the mammoth's head. The mammoth's ear may also be interpreted as an egg form here and a feline face was worked onto a reddish component of the flint. The cat's face is circled here and possible ears/crack in egg highlighted.
 
Allen Deibel of Canfield, Ohio, is an artist, naturalist, hunter and avocational archaeologist who has detected subtle feline imagery worked into stones in the Mahoning River valley in north east Ohio. The Buckeye Lake, Ohio, and Missouri figures have feline faces worked into the stone in a very similar manner as Mr. Deibel has discovered and documented.
 
Allen Deibel illustration of iconographic worked pebble 

Possible feline and mastodon combination on a worked pebble illustrated by Allen Deibel

Allen Deibel illustration of worked pebbles from the Mahoning River valley, Ohio, most interpreted by Mr. Deibel as having feline head and face imagery.

Irrigon, Oregon incised stone find by Dennis Boggs interpreted by Allen Deibel as a feline face (purple here) and by Ken Johnston as an egg (white) with a chick (yellow) and the beak of the mother bird (blue) was featured in an earlier posting. The crack visible at the top of this egg-shaped stone is a natural feature and is could be symbolic of the cosmic source of life. It may have inspired the artist to depict this complex composition using four icons of nature.

The Lower Palaeolithic "Kempen Stone Face" from Belgium was interpreted by Ken Johnston as depicting a lion head and mouth (orange) holding a kitten (in yellow here) emerging from an egg form which is "cracked" by a banded inclusion of lighter stone material running the length of the sculpture. This is a confirmed artifact by archaeologist L. Jimmy Groen.

The egg form in portable rock art and thoughts from Jan van Es:

"The question if stone-age men -besides their technical tool-kit filled with types and traditions- also recorded their own identity, always has been (and still is) my motive to examine every artifact very accurately.

Cave-paintings, some worked ivory, bone and horn sculptures, portraits etc. mostly have been estimated at not older than 30.000 BP and coupled with modern mankind. But all those hundreds of thousands of years before seem to be a great empty gap, while the established archaeologists worldwide and repeatedly were and still are exposing stone-age tools -already known and accepted by the public- with even the most fantastic names.

In 1971 at last I thought to have found some confirmation with the find of a neolithic leaf-point: frontal (ventral) I saw a male portrait (with pointed cap) and at the backside (dorsal) a bearded man. I wondered: were these images worked out deliberately? Were they caused by accident? Perhaps the creator didn't see it at all? Anyway this piece has been the instigator to the intensification of my research, concerning this phenomenon. I wanted to find out whether this was of frequent occurrence or this artifact would turn out to be an isolated case.

In course of time my collection increased rapidly and it was very astonishing to find out that this phenomenon turned up more often. The more surprised I was because of the fact that the professionals never mentioned anything like it. They keep on showing their tools in similar typologies as if it is a merely technical matter. All the same I recognized ever-recurring themes of portraits and animal images in several tools (called "pseudo tools" by the profs), which made me wonder what to call such stones: "tools", "sculptures" or even a combination of these? As I put it to several profs, I was called a "pseudo"-collector, fantast (cloud-watcher).

Later on several amateurs, still wanting the verification of professionals (and still working with the standards of those profs), turned their backs upon this matter. To me the opinion of the profs had not that great importance to chuck up! No! On the contrary, it was all the more reason to go against it and to look for supporters and like-mindeds and to find them (which I did).

While enlarging my collection I noticed that the older the tools and sculptures, the clearer the images. Through the years I discovered that in particular blade-sculptures which, by their abstract and symmetrical forms, were more difficult to interpret than the Early Paleolithic pieces. Particularly people of the older stone-age traditions were handling the principle: nature shows and offers the basic forms or basic shapes. They acquired these forms to fix and perpetuate their "image-language" in typological iterations. Take for instance a round shaped stone. By making little alterations from time to time one finally ends with a square or another shape. The phases (or stages) in between were utilized to develop other sculptures, thus the working process was in stages from zero all the way to a complete and total form.

During all those years of research I noticed that, besides all forms nature offers in rocks, trees, fruit, animals etc., the egg-shaped rocks were considered as the most ideal kind. The big cosmic egg, the germinal force and origin of life, seems to have been a very important notion and turns out to be a main line in the images. The reproductions of sculptures can be "read" in all ways nature offers, like the shine of fire, twilight, fog, vivid sunlight, moistness et cetera. Using these techniques of "looking" one discovers a shadow language. By turning and overturning the sculptures with this technique (using the above mentioned elements) one can "read" a story. A story in which actually the profs ought to have deepened. Anyway, taking effort to reflect up, on this matter wouldn't be bad.

-Jan van Es, Roermond, The Netherlands. (Transl. J.Huber)

Thanks to Allen Deibel for his original line drawings of some of his "Stone Cat Collection"

-kbj

10 September 2013

Bison climbing on back of mammoth with a bison head looking backward is a significant American palaeoart sculpture from site number 23JP1222, the "Old Route 66 Zoo"

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find
"The Old Route 66 Zoo," Jasper County, Missouri, site 23JP1222

Bison climbing on back of mammoth with a bison head facing backward is a significant American palaeoart sculpture identified by Ken Johnston from site number 23JP1222, the "Old Route 66 Zoo."

The bison may be interpreted here as copulating with the mammoth indicating a possible fertility symbolism associated with these two animals. Even though we know the mammoth/bison combination from the portable rock art of the "Old World" and from Western European cave art, it is also found in North America as demonstrated by this and other postings on this blog.

Until this portable rock art modality is recognized by Anthropology and archaeological work is done on these finds in North America to provide dating- the world does not know if the mammoth/bison combination motif originated in the Americas or Eurasia.

Ken Johnston's interpretation of the palaeoart piece. Bison head looking left, bison head is also the rear half of the bison facing right as if climbing on the back of the mammoth. The bison climbing on the back of the mammoth has been interpreted as the bison mounting the mammoth for copulation.

Utah petroglyph documented by Ekkehart Malotki and Henry D. Wallace has now been interpreted by Ken Johnston as likely depicting a bison mounting a mammoth for copulation, the same scene being depicted in the "Old Route 66 Zoo" mammoth/bison combination sculpture.




-kbj

04 September 2013

Carved petrified wood human head profile is second such example identified by Chris Schram from the same Colorado valley

Chris Schram find, Westminster Colorado, near Big Dry Creek

Human head profile looking left, mid-facial prominence and recessive chin like archaic-type humans or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. This is the second human profile on petrified wood identified by Chris, the first one featured in an earlier posting on this blog.

-kbj

03 September 2013