25 November 2013

Artistic convention of adding nostrils can be used to assess artificiality and may reflect the makers' animistic world view of stone figures as "alive with the breath of life"

 
Mike Raver find, Muskingum County, Ohio

Mike Raver of Zanesville, Ohio, has discovered about a dozen sites in his locale along the Muskingum River which he interprets as producing portable rock art figures and sculptures. This is a non-glaciated area but the Wisconsin glacier Scioto lobes came within tens of miles and the area was subject to being part of the glacial melt water river systems as the glacier retreated northward in the final Pleistocene.

Ohio "nostrils" (left) Maryland "nostrils" (right)

The face mask figure from Ohio seems to have similarly incised "nostril divots" as this stone from the Mark Jones collection, Maryland.

Nose and nostril representations added to stone figures seem to be used to disambiguate the face and might reflect a desire to add or recognize a symbolic "breath of life" in these objects. This may be a clue to an animistic world view held by the makers where all the world, even the rocks, are considered to be alive.

Artistic conventions like nostril elements may be used to help assess the probabilities of human modification made to iconic portable rock objects.

Ohio (left) and Thailand (right) stone face mask figures

Mike Raver of Zanesville, Ohio, notes a similarity between his Ohio pebble face mask figure and this Stone face mask discovered from the cave near Kanchanaburi, Thailand, featured in an earlier posting

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