29 October 2013

Flint Ridge human head profile with lips

Ken Johnston find, Licking County, Ohio, 8cm,11cm
"Human head profile with pink lips looking left"

Flint Ridge, Ohio, has been demonstrated on this blog to be the locus of significant iconographic sculpture and figure stone production. The state archaeologist attributes these items to my cloud-watching. While the museum in Columbus spends significant time on an Egyptian mummy, the "world heritage class" portable rock art enterprise at Flint Ridge continues to be ignored. Unlike most scientific endeavors, Archaeology seems to have no mechanism or interest in anomalous material which it cannot explain other than "you have pareidolia." 

Perhaps this exquisitely beautiful art piece will prompt someone in Archaeology to begin the process of scientifically assessing this kind of material and the potential of finding it in situ in dated context. A multi-disciplinary team is needed which is committed to a fair examination of the suspect material and which understands pareidolia is a part of the universal human experience, not an argument.

And if archaeologists continue to ignore the need to sample even the most obscure lithic material at their sites for visual or iconic properties like those presented by many amateurs on this blog, they will continue to destroy their sites and the invaluable art information which was recorded on stone.

The human depiction here appears to be of a "robust type person" with a prominent brow ridge and mid-facial prominence, as opposed to a "gracile type person" (Bednarik) with more of a flat face and forward chin. For background on these human types which informs the study of potentially Pleistocene art objects, please see Bednarik, The Origins of Human Modernity, at the bottom of the Archaeology of Portable Rock Art main page.

This is the sculpture rotated 90 degrees to the right for comparison to a French example below

From portable rock sculpture author Pietro Gaietto, Genoa, Italy
attributed to the middle-Acheulean, from central France

This is a shadow view of the sculpture from Licking County, Ohio

27 October 2013

Thai antiques collector notes a similarity between Hoabinian culture stone figure from near Hanoi, Vietnam, and a figure from Çatalhöyük, Turkey, 7150km away

Hoabinian culture (Hòa Binh) figure from near Hanoi, Vietnam, ca 16,000 -10,000 years before present
Tira Vanichtheeranont collection, Bangkok, Thailand

Obverse view

Areas of suspected human modification: fingers on right hand, navel, left arm and hand definition, faint remnants of two eyes and a mouth.

Turkish figures: Tira Vanichtheeranont noticed similarity with the figure at right here, from Çatalhöyük, to his doll from Vietnam, both depicted with right arms bent at the elbow

Tira writes: "I got that doll from a friend who is an archeologist in Vietnam. He told me that doll is from Hòa Binh Culture, north of Vietnam, near Hanoi City. After I have this doll, I try to get more information on Google and finally, I got the article of these dolls from Turkey."


The Indus Valley may be thought of as the geographic "mid-point" on a journey between Vietnam and Turkey. One wonders if the "bent arm" figuration is simply an expression of a universal aesthetic appeal of its visual form, or whether it may be an iconographic representation with a related or shared symbolic meaning across time and distance. This figure has a composition more in line with our contemporary art sense than the nature-based Vietnam and Turkey figures. Though a few thousand years old, she seems to be saying "Where have you been and why you smell like perfume?"

25 October 2013

Sleeping bird figure and human face profile on petrified palmwood from Colorado

Chris Schram find, near Big Dry Creek, Westminster, Colorado

Chris interprets a cartoonish anthropomorphic face profile looking left with an exaggerated long face and nose. The mouth is marked red to orient this figure. A black line is added here to show the subtle definition in the rock work which is used to delineate a bird head also looking left, where the human and bird figures share the same "eye." 

Sleeping Duck carved figure stone, Bob Doyle collection, Maine

Mesopotamian haematite sleeping bird figure 1200 -582 BC

23 October 2013

50 year student of portable rock art documented a "Full face of a cat" from Missouri in a 2006 letter

"Full face of a cat"
Arthur Langeneckert, Jr., find, Crawford County, Missouri


Link here to Alan Day's web site Mr. Langeneckert makes reference to



I think it is very possible this sculpture depicts a fractal-like "cat face within a cat face within a cat face" for a total of three cat faces in the one perspective. The 2nd cat's left eye is the right eye of the 1st cat (shared eye).  The 3rd cat is depicted at the mouth of the 2nd cat, a motif I have interpreted on a 300,000 year old artifact from the Belgian Kempen.

Here is a 9 year old's drawing of the "face within a face" art concept, expressed like fractals through 5 levels, one going off the paper and out of the frame of reference. A similar kind of representation is also seen in portable rock art as in this fine example from Mr. Langeneckert's Missouri collection.

20 October 2013

Art of Homo erectus: two additional Acheulean handaxes, this time from Africa, may include worked zoomorphic forms

Acheulean handaxe from the Sahara, west Africa, interpreted as including a facial profile of a monkey-like creature like other examples noted by Ken Johnston on this blog.

ORIGIN: WEST AFRICA (Sahara desert), from an old collection.
length : 15.5 cm ( 6.10 inches)
width : 8 cm ( 3.14 inches)
thickness : 5 cm ( 1.96 inches)
made of JASPER with Saharan patina

These kinds of Acheulean "decorated handaxes" have been documented by scholars and amateur archaeologists in Europe for several decades and are predicted to be found in existing archaeological and museum collections if time and care is made to inspect for them. Some of the facial profiles are human and some are animals.

Face profile on middle right edge on this handaxe from Dunbridge, Hampshire, was featured in an earlier posting on this blog. The handaxe is centered on stone cortex (light feature) which was intentionally retained by the artifact's creator. This face is similar to the new identification from north Africa above.

Another Sahara desert Acheulean handaxe which appears to have an area worked out to present a face of a creature, perhaps a human or feline.

A European handaxe identified in an earlier posting compares favorably to the new handaxe from Africa above it. Both have anthropomorphic/zoomorphic faces on the lower right edge.

The "fish mouths" interpreted on two artifacts a couple of postings ago were also in this approximate position, hinting that these so-called tools also served as a kind of display frame for expression of symbolic zoomorphic forms.

John Feliks, a co-founder of the Pleistocene Coalition, has demonstrated in a series of falsifiable proofs that homo erectus was highly intelligent and creative:

"Hence, the following advanced cognitive qualities may be quite easily assumed for the species Homo erectus by way of geometric analogy: interrelationship sensitivity and complex organizational skill; language; use of metaphor and hidden meaning; philosophy; mysticism or other “spiritual” perspectives; and a general ability to discern, appreciate, and create the most subtle nuance within any area of intellectual endeavor."

Baboon head depiction on a handaxe. Part of the stone's cortex was retained to depict the animal's nose and mouth.

Here is an example of a baboon head depiction I discovered on an Acheulean handaxe from the Île-de-France, along with a human head depiction on the obverse, which was featured in an earlier posting.

14 October 2013

Minnesota artifact exhibits classic mammoth profile iconography, the Golden Ratio and is a probable palaeoart sculpture in light of a human face figure

 "Minnesota mammoth standing on the ground with a human face on its posterior"
photos by Mark Jones, artifact from Gibbon, Minnestota
6.8kg, 53cm wide to 33cm tall = ratio of 1.606


Mark Jones of Glen Burnie, Maryland, is a fossil hunter and artifact collector whose figure stone find and interpretation "Kissy Birds" was featured in my first article on this blog. Several other of Mark's finds from Piney Point near the convergence of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay have also been featured. Mark contacted me today regarding a friend's anomalous artifact find from Minnesota. They could see the object had been worked but did not know if it could be a tool, some kind of art, a trail marker, etc. and asked for my opinion on it.

Columbian mammoth reconstruction to illustrate profile shape

The artifact struck me as having the classic mammoth icon shape seen in other portable rock art sculptures seen on this blog and elsewhere. It appeared to have been chipped along its edge to produce the shape of the rough outline a mammoth. The mammoth is depicted as standing on the ground which is a flat, elongated surface acting as a base for the vertical mammoth figure.

To support the idea that this is a Paleolithic mammoth sculpture, I interpret a worked human face figure on the posterior of the overall mammoth shape of the stone. This is in line with this same motif seen on other examples and in sum they are not attributable to coincidence. They are attributable to a robust North American palaeoart tradition which produced identifiable patterns of symbols and symbol arrangements on stone.

 "Human face right profile on posterior of mammoth icon." 
Close up of worked human face on lower right edge of the sculpture as if on the mammoth's "leg"

To quote Jan van Es from a posting made about an Italian mammoth sculpture from Montarsolo on 8 October:  "In many sculptures of animals (bear, elephant, bison, etc..) is a portrait by the legs visible. Here I see a man's face by the hind legs." This mammoth also exhibits a face in the place of the mammoth's rear leg and supports van Es' interpretation of the Italian artifact and others.

Objects like this can have value to us even as surface finds with what would normally be considered weak archaeological context. Portable rock art can have what I call "self-supporting context," where there is more than one element of the same piece which have "art" attributes and each these elements should be considered as supporting the veracity of the interpretation of the piece as a whole. The mammoth profile and the human face I interpret here would have more limited value if they were the sole potential art elements of a piece. But combined together on the one piece, with physical placement in "correct" position compared to other known forms, they make a most compelling case in support of an art interpretation.

View of the bottom of the "base" of the sculpture.

Amateurs will continue to serve up examples on silver platters like this until some good scientist determines it is time to be looking for these kinds of objects in situ. If they do not look, they will not find. I am confident if they do look more closely for art attributes in all stone material at archaeological sites they will find a world of symbolic information left in stone by our ancestors- an art world that can inform us more about our human past than the technological tool sets which are the basis of our current archaeology.

"Although incised cobbles are common at the Gault site, portable art is otherwise rare at early New World localities, and, in either case, this art emphasizes simple geometric patterns rather than the naturalistic portrait style that characterizes much (though not all) of the portable art in the European Upper Paleolithic. Given the difference in the nature of the early portable arts of these hemispheres, there is no reason to expect parallels between their rock art corpora, and good reason to doubt that similarities would exist. Even though there may be occasional examples, early New World art apparently simply did not emphasize (now extinct) megafaunal species, but most likely for cultural reasons rather than due to chronology alone."

Journal of Archaeology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 713159, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/713159
Review Article
Rock Art Dating and the Peopling of the Americas

David S. Whitley

The above statement, which also reflects the current consensus of Archaeology regarding figurative portable rock art in America, now stands refuted. -Ken Johnston

09 October 2013

A bird sculpture with a quartz crystal eye from Flint Ridge, Muskingum County, Ohio

"Bird sculpture with quartz crystal eye"
Flint Ridge, Muskingum County, Ohio

The sculpture measures 10cm x 14cm


New perspective moving to the right from top 3 photos. A second bird (owl face) comes into view.

The bird's eyes as seen in the top three photos are seen in circles here. The top bird's left eye becomes the right eye in another possible bird figuration on this artifact, seen at right with a mark up of my interpretation of a worked owl face icon with beak here.

Quartz crystal bird's eye is seen protruding along the upper left edge of the artifact as seen here. It has been exposed and incorporated into the sculpture with great skill and artistry.

Obverse view of the sculpture

The Ohio bird sculpture has similar form to an owl sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo, site 23JP1222. Both sculptures stand upright on bases and present in correct viewing orientation. 

These sculptures are products of mimetic iterations of culturally mediated imagery which likely span millennia and hundreds of miles in North America.


A second owl sculpture in Flint Ridge material with quartz crystals from Buckeye Lake, Licking County, Ohio, which is one of seven sculptures found together as a "hoard."

08 October 2013

Luigi Chiapparoli identifies Italian elephant sculpture interpreted as a male baby mammoth with human and wisent forms on its side by Jan van Es

Luigi Chiapparoli find and identification of an elephant sculpture in Italy

Jan van Es made these comments and interpretation of this sculpture: "The corpse is in fact of a baby elephant (mammoth of the child). In many sculptures of animals (bear, elephant, bison, etc..) is a portrait by the legs visible. Here I see a man's face by the hind legs. On the side of the belly I see a female form of a symbol of fertility. That's why I think it's a young male animal."

Interpretive drawing by Jan van Es. A depiction of a wisent is illustrated in top part of the drawing here linked to the contemporary male symbol.



Interpretive drawing by Jan van Es
 
 
These animal combinations and arrangements as interpreted by Jan van Es may also be seen in North America but continue to be ignored by a field too comfortable to dismiss them as "cloud watching" by hopelessly naïve people. Too many lay persons and amateur archaeologists have noticed these portable rock art forms but have received the "Boucher de Perthes" treatment from a field which claims to operate as a science but has no mechanism or desire to handle anomalous material.
 
Jacques Boucher de Crèvecœur de Perthes was vindicated in his observation of stone tools in association with extinct Pleistocene fauna and with proper science he will be vindicated that pierre-figures, or figure stones, may be found right alongside the tools. 

07 October 2013

Little mammoth figure with human face icon in bas relief on its side

Little mammoth figure with human face in bas relief on its side
Find by archaeologist Jan van Es, The Netherlands
 
The human/mammoth combination seen in Hans Gram's sculpture featured in the prior posting and in other sculptures featured on this blog is also seen here on this small pebble with a mammoth form including eye, with a simple human face icon on its side. The mammoth is facing right and the human face is looking straight-on, perhaps smiling. The photo at right shows human stone removal to define the oval-shaped human head.

American paleolithic sculpture example of a smiling human face on the side of a mammoth
 
This North Carolina mammoth shaped sculpture (in profile facing left) identified by Buzzy Boles was interpreted in an earlier posting on this blog as having a carved smiling human face mask, a bison head looking right and a lion face in the lower left as illustrated here.