20 February 2014

Bear head with nose sniffing the air from site near the Wisconsin glacial episode advancement line at Buckeye Lake, Ohio

Limestone bear head sculpture find and interpretation by Ken Johnston, from the shores of a former glacial swamp, now Buckeye Lake, Licking County, Ohio. 

The bear is depicted with its nose up in the air, a recognition of its powerful sense of smell. The sculpture stands upright in this position on a flat base. It was found among dozens of other iconic rocks of chert and coarse stone, suggesting an unnatural pattern created by prehistoric human activity. It was found about 1/4 mile from the find site of the Buckeye Lake Paleolithic flint sculpture hoard described on this blog in postings in May 2012.

This is a two-headed sculpture in this view with a bear head profile looking left and a human head profile looking right. 

The two-headed format has been traced to the Lower Paleolithic by early sculpture author Pietro Gaietto.  This "split and joined beings" concept may have persisted and may be seen in examples such as Janus and the two-headed sculpture from Roquepertuse, south France.

The subtle human face right profile depiction 

A culture expecting icons in certain places in relation to others probably had no trouble seeing this human face aspect of this sculpture. Even though it may seem ridiculously crude or meaningless to many, these are the expressions our ancestors left in stone and they are reproducible through many repeating examples. Close examination and consideration of all lithic materials from archaeological sites for iconic properties requires a revolution in the currently apathetic and dysfunctional approach of Archaeology toward lithics outside the already known tool taxonomies.  

Bear head sculpture side 2, nose sniffing the air

Close up of the selected stone removal to create the eye, nose and mouth facial features of the bear head

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