31 March 2013

World's oldest known sound recordings discovered on horse figure stones and played back by France's Denis Argaut

Shadow of dance galloping horse, Denis Argaut, France
The rock is in the shape of a horse head and plays a galloping sound when rocked back and forth


He has identified a total of 6 horse figures which reproduce the sounds of the galloping horse which strongly supports Argaut's observation that the stones were engineered to combine the visual image of the horse along with the sounds on what must be considered an exogram, or an external information storage device. These are the earliest known sound recordings and Denis' interpretation and playback of the sounds allow us to "listen to the Stone Age past.

29 March 2013

Let's get small. Let's get really small. Attention to detail shows a world of stone micro-art is easy to miss if no one is looking

Lyn Niday find, Bird figure on chert flake, Buckeye Lake shore, Licking County, Ohio

The find here was made 200 feet from the find location of the Buckeye Lake sculpture hoard and its several pounds flint and crystal owl. It is just 25mm tall, a couple of mm thick, and would routinely be ignored by most archaeologists and collectors. I had to put it under a lighted 10x magnification to confirm my hunch it was a tiny intended bird figure.

There is a world of imagery recorded in artifacts made on small scales which have not been described by academic or amateur archaeology. They are so small they cannot be detected at a glance or without very close, careful examination. Scholars and collectors need to re-imagine the existence of art on seemingly unimportant small flakes of stone.

 “You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” 
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

In addition to a "birds eye," 6 additional holes have either been created or exploited along a straight line in what could be a representation of a spotted bird's wing. The male snowy owl has spots on its wing and white chert may signal a white bird is being depicted.

Flake from side 2. The outline of the bird figure profile facing left may be seen here too with head, beak, legs, tail feathers and flight wings.

-kbj

25 March 2013

Mammoth and bison combination sculpture demands North American portable rock art be approached in a world-wide rock art thematic context

Buzzy Boles find, mammoth with bison head profile looking right,
Laurens County, South Carolina

Buzzy Boles of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, writes, "This is a very interesting statue. It is 5" at the base and 3 1/2" high. It seems very old. I found it in a small creek bed below the plateau where I have found most of my collection. Again, the photography leaves a lot to be desired. I am researching a microscope digital camera and hope to have one soon. I think this rock depicts a mammoth as it has a distinctive eye, ear complete with hole and a trunk. It also has the head shape. It shows numerous signs of human modification and has many micro carvings and several faces. I would like to have your opinion on it. It also shows signs of wear from use as a tool of some kind."

Markups by Ken Johnston to illustrate interpreted imagery in the stonework:
top, human face; left, lion face; right, bison head looking right
(click photos to expand)

As Buzzy Boles noticed, the overall shape of this stone in this view presents a mammoth profile form facing left. There are a number of possible human facial images and I marked one up in the mammoth head area (top). Paleolithic figurative art very frequently has combinations of several images nested into the artifacts. When I saw the compelling mammoth form I began to look for other creatures and noticed a bison head profile image looking right. The mammoth/bison combination is known from the European archaeology to have been significant to Paleolithic peoples. The right side of the stone appears to have been heat treated to darken the surface, then selected stone was removed to reveal the lighter stone and create the nose/muzzle area of the bison head. There is a concavity serving as the bison eye.

I also interpret a feline face image (likely North American lion being depicted) in the lower left of the sculpture here, looking at us straight on.  On this one side of the sculpture, we have 4 creatures so we consider this a polymorphic sculpture.

Here is a paper by E. Malotki and H. Wallace which includes a mammoth and bison rock art combination in Utah.

Don Hitchcock writes "Whether one subscribes to the orthodox ‘Clovis first’ paradigm (i.e. that the earliest entrants into the New World arrived from Siberia and became the Clovis culture about 13 500 years ago), or to the now generally accepted notion that there were multiple waves of immigrants prior to Clovis, it is surprising that pictorial evidence for the co-existence of pre-Clovis people and Ice Age megamammals has not to date come to light. As is well known, the presumed ancestors of the immigrants to the Americas from the Old World had a rich tradition of image making, including rock art."

The evidence is now coming to light but it is not the pictoral rock art expected by archaeologists. It is in subtle figurative portable rock art objects such as this amazing find by Buzzy Boles.

Bison head looking right, found by Buzzy Boles in Laurens County, S.C.

-kbj

23 March 2013

Left-handed tool is breathing bird head with human face icon on posterior, a motif providing a rare glimpse into the spiritual lives of Stone Age cultures

Ken Johnston find, Licking County, Ohio

I interpret this as a combination bird head and tool form, with a nostril in the anatomically correct position on the beak to "animate the stone with the breath of life." These kinds of artifacts likely express some portion of the spiritual lives of their makers and are ready to provide archaeologists a rare view into the beliefs of the cultures who made them. Every stone and rock and flake in archaeological contexts needs to be considered for visual properties or we are doing a profound disservice to our human heritage. In my opinion, every archaeological site ever worked has been compromised, even destroyed, if visual properties of the site lithics were not considered.

Side 2 of combination bird head and tool with scale




The tool aspect of this artifact is seen when it is held in the left hand. The two photos demonstrate the designed "thumb pad" to optimally hold the tool while presenting a working edge. The tip of the beak is a serviceable pick or perforator. (click photos to expand and compare)

 A view of the sharp edge of the tool, a possible scraper or cutter

-kbj

21 March 2013

Rock suspected of being a Stone Age curated manuport may have been worked to enhance perceived facial features in the random surface pattern

Dennis Boggs find, Columbia River valley foothills, Irrigon, Oregon 

Collector Dennis Boggs recognizes certain stone material as "exotic" to his locale and in unnatural concentrations and flags it for closer inspection for evidence of human modification.


Side view

Dennis Boggs obsidian tool, Columbia River valley. Mode I Oldowan tool forms like this are plentiful but not accounted for by American archaeologists.

Obsidian hydration dating on this fracture might be possible.

Dennis Boggs find, Columbia River valley, Irrigon, Oregon. Levallois point, American style. I have identified Middle-Paleolithic portable rock art motifs in Dennis' collection. Most of the tools found near or with the art are cutters, choppers, scrapers and pounders. A point like this is rare.

-kbj

18 March 2013

New York archaeologist works in France while site number 23PU2 Miller Cave, Missouri, petroglyphic icons similar to one claimed as "Europe's oldest cave art"


About 37,000 years ago, occupants of a rock shelter at Abri Castanet in southwestern France etched the above figure into the shelter’s stone ceiling. The circular form is a furrow in the stone. The rod is in relief.


 Miller Cave petroglyphs in Missouri were similar to "Europe's oldest cave art." Thankfully they were documented by these photos before they were eventually destroyed by vandals.

Similar images to the ones seen on the France and Missouri petroglyphs are also made on portable rock art pieces (R. Dale Guthrie, 2006) and should be given close scrutiny at possible archaeological sites in the United States. Missouri amateur archaeologists Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber have reported figurative portable rock art forms in Jasper County which seem linked to traditions also seen in the "old world," so cave art examples in Missouri similar to old world examples are particularly interesting to those of us interested in North American portable rock art as well.

A combination of the "Clovis first" detour/fiasco, the bias in favor of European art and the myth of a "human creative explosion" in that part of the world, have both unfortunately distorted mainstream approaches to Pleistocene cave and portable art inquiry in North America.

In my cursory search without access to all the proper academic journal sources, I can find no earlier association of the Miller Cave iconography with a widely published example about a year old from France. Why aren't the Americans studying American cave art in a world context? Or why aren't the French studying American cave art? Is it possible the Americans and the Europeans are operating in such isolated academic silos they are not capable of making connections which seem so obvious to laypersons? Is it that an "American Aurignacian" occurrence is regarded as impossible by a supposed science? I think so.

A human skull from Miller Cave, Missouri
Gerard Fowke, site archaeologist 1918-1919
Miller Cave, Pulaski County Missouri

Reference: White, Randall, Romain Mensan, Raphaëlle Bourrillon, Catherine Cretin, Thomas F. G. Higham, Amy E. Clark, Matthew L. Sisk, Elise Tartar, Philippe Gardère, Paul Goldberg, Jacques Pelegrin, Hélène Valladas, Nadine Tisnérat-Laborde, Jacques de Sanoit, Dominique Chambellan, and Laurent Chiotti. 2012. “Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 2012 May 29; 109(22): 8450-5.

-kbj

16 March 2013

Entoptic phenomena experienced in altered mind states may explain Paleolithic lattice and grid carvings such as these from Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, portable carvings are in typical Paleolithic rock art patterns which have been thought to originate in altered mind states, reflecting visual patterns generated and interpreted in the brain's visual cortex (click photos to expand)

Amateur archaeologist's likely entoptic finds, South Carolina, 3 engraved plaquettes

Rebecca Partridge writes of these kinds of patterns: "Entopic (sic) Phenomena and The Origins of Art

I begin my discussion of abstraction and mysticism at the beginning, with the first appearance of abstract forms. These appeared in cave paintings largely situated around Western Europe created during the upper Palaeolithic between 45,000 and 20,000 years ago. The period between the middle and upper Palaeolithic has been called The Transition, as humans relatively quickly developed distinctive cultures involving ritual and the creation of art. There are no concrete explanations as to the motivations and meanings of Palaeolithic art, however it is generally agreed amongst archaeologists that the evidence point to creation during altered states of consciousness. These states occur through various means, hallucinogenic drugs, sensory deprivation, mind control techniques such as repetitive sound or movement, through dreams, psychological and physical illnesses. These early artists may have ingested drugs or it could have been a sensory reaction to the darkness in the cave, either way the forms that they painted have since been found to be common to many altered states. In his book, The Mind in the Cave’, David Lewis Williams outlines three stages of visual hallucinations, which he applies to the production of cave painting;

‘ In the first and ‘lightest’ stage people may experience geometric precepts that include dots, grids, zig zags, nested coronary curves, and meandering lines. Because these precepts are ‘wired’ into the human nervous system, all people, no matter what their cultural background, have the potential to experience them.

The first stage may include forms which fall into the following categories, grid patterns; lattices, honeycombs, chessboards, and circular forms; cobwebs, tunnels and funnels. These patterns appear in vivid colours, expanding contracting and overlaying, often there is a bright light in the centre of the visual field. He identifies these forms as ‘entopic (sic) phenomena’ images produced both within the eye and in the visual cortex. These images are in the ‘minds eye’, seen with the eyes closed or open projected onto the surrounding space."

Please see this earlier posting about a grid I discovered in Seneca Caverns in Ohio, pictured just below. There is an underground river in this cave and it may have been a location where altered mind states were pursued. The absolute darkness of the cave may have assisted with this. There is a very strong similarity between the Seneca Cavern, Ohio, grids and aspects of the Daufuskie Island, South Carolina grids. I suggest they were made in the same tradition.

Seneca Cavern, Ohio

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

-kbj

13 March 2013

Figurative finds identified among tools at Anza, California, by Karon Schwab

Karon Schwab find, Anza, California

Quartzite has been worked to selectively reveal a darker underlying layer which now resembles facial features, including eyebrows. A female figurine from The Netherlands was made using a similar technique.

Side 2 with scale

A face on a pebble, possibly with the "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" motif. Karon indepently identified this motif on pebbles at suspected cultural sites in the Idyylwild and Anza, California, areas.

 A possible fish head figure, perhaps representing a Salmonoid

Salmon head

A fossilized bone tool found by Karon. The broad end has been worn at an angle associated with the optimal grip of the bone. If it were green when used by humans, perhaps it could be used to date the peoples associated with these tools and this palpable visual imagery in stone.

Amateur archaeologist Karon Schwab tool finds, Anza, California

Anza, California, spearpoint

Anza spearpoint side 2 with scale

Please compare the facial construction and expression of the Anza, California, face at left and an artist's rendering of the "dodgy-eyed woman," Czech Republic, at right. British Museum curator Jill Cook interpreted the Czech ivory figure as having a weakness, or palsy, on the left side of the face, which may have indicated an individual suffering a stroke. Similar to the Czech carving, the distortion of the California figure's left side of the face was likely done according to a long established tradition, not related to any individual or disease.

-kbj

11 March 2013

Face on possible oversized tool form, along with customized presentation base, indicates it had symbolic significance

Doris Avery find, Lairdsville, Pennsylvania, on the Susquehana River, early 1960's
The sculpture is 34cm tall without the base

The sculpture's associated presentation base

Phillip Avery writes, "My mother found this face and base back in the early sixties along a creek in Lairdsville Pa. It has been in our family since then and it was always assumed to be an Indian mortar and pestle of some sort.

I'm writing to you in hopes of finding out more about it and hope you can give me your opinion and/or direct me to someone that may know more.

To me the nose and eyes look like possible fire starting holes but then there is the mouth and the odd hole at the top. The interesting thing to me is that all edges of the stone are natural, not carved. For some reason it appears that whoever made this did not want to compromise the integrity of the stone. They actually carved the base stand to fit the natural contours of the face stone, not an easy task. That makes me think this may have had some sort of religious or magical significance...is it an idol of some sort or symbol of something? I suspect this may be much older and may not be an Indian artifact at all.

They did a superb job smoothing and leveling the bottom of the base and even added some very straight decorative grooves on the one side. She found the face first, then found the base about 10 to 15 feet farther down the steam. I too was amazed she found both parts. We always hunted arrowheads in the area and the small valley where this was found was inhabited by Indians for a very long time. This face however isn't anything like any other Indian artifact I've ever found. If you put it up, it was found in the early sixties in Lairdsville, PA along the Susquehanna river by Doris Avery. I'm her youngest son Phillip Avery and can be reached at Plavery85@verizon.net if anyone has any more information regarding it."

A Licking County, Ohio, hand held tool with bit at top has an overall shape similar to the teardrop form of the Acheulean Handaxe. This form reminds me of the Susquehana River find. If it were a functional tool, it would be a mega-fauna style bone crusher, raised by both hands with the pointed bit end down. It has a thumb indent, or partial groove, seen of the left edge with a corresponding "bump" on the opposite side to split the fingers.

A side-by-side comparison of the two artifacts, Susquehana River, Pennsylvania, at left, Buckeye Lake, Ohio, at right

-kbj

09 March 2013

Bill Waters identifies Texas biface with a human face depiction on lower right edge like known European examples

Bill Waters of Keithville, Louisiana, find from a collection of Texas artifacts, no further provenance 


Bill Waters illustrates the face he discovered on the lower right edge of the finger-held chopper/cutter/scraper artifact. (Click photos to expand).

Bill Waters demonstrates the thickness of the artifact

Side 2

-kbj