30 June 2014

Archaeology of Jan van Es, Roermond, The Netherlands




















Jan van Es, Roermond, The Netherlands, writes for Archaeology of Portable Rock Art:

"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 upon this matter wouldn't be bad." Jan van Es. (Transl. J.Huber)

24 June 2014

Significant new portable rock art site reported on a farm in east Alabama

Bobcat head figure identified by Lisa Deason. Lisa has identified a significant portable rock art site and her finds seen here cover art motifs observed by so many other people. The site is on her farm in Lee County, Alabama.

Lion head figure identified by Lisa Deason

Face on diamond identified by Lisa Deason. The face mask also depicts the "one eye open, other eye shut or missing" motif.  The right eye is carved in bas relief and the left eye is expressed as a circle with an empty place resembling a doughnut ring. Lisa Deason interprets a possible nose decoration depiction on the face. If one looks closely, you may be able to see three or four teeth in the figure's mouth.


Lisa Deason writes "To my knowledge, there are no documented discoveries of this art form in Alabama. There is not a registered site in this city not even a historic site; there are however, some in nearby Phenix City, Opelika and Auburn.

The President of the Alabama Archaeological Society in Auburn came to look at our land after I found the first point and a few flakes and she said it could possibly have been a camp. She told me to call her if I found anything else and so of course I did, but she never came nor called me back. That was in 2010 and I never pursued...not even after finding all the art pieces. So needless to say, it's just been my destiny to find them, care for them and enjoy their beauty.

I exhausted all efforts to find information on the internet as I couldn't find anything other than Days Knob. When I read of the struggles and challenges they faced with archaeologists acknowledging their finds as true artifacts, I decided to give up on ever learning more or connecting with someone with knowledge. I only began my research again after hearing all about pre-Clovis research. It was then that I thought that since I can't find others who have found what I have found, maybe it's because it's undiscovered elsewhere since it took this long to find it here.

I typed in portable rock art last week and there was your blog. So that's where I'm at and I am so excited to be able to share it with others and be able to discover and learn more myself along the way. Thank you for doing what you do. :-)"

Thank you Lisa for sharing your very important finds. Alan Day at Day's Knob has since had success in establishing probable artificiality of figurative stones in a number of cases with the assistance of a doctorate level Petrologist, specialist in the composition and formation of rocks.

Lisa Deason finds include tools along with figurative pieces.





In the same way we can perceive both a rabbit and a duck head in the famous optical illusion, the Lisa Deason sleeping duck here may also be seen as a rabbit with ears folded down (sleeping rabbit). It is polyiconic and is both in the visual illusion. Prehistoric artists exploited ambiguity like this to affect deeper or additional meanings in their art.

Alabama lion head (left) compared to Flint Ridge, Ohio, object identified as a lion head in an earlier posting. These two objects are probably mediated by the same visual cultural tradition.

22 June 2014

"Ape-like figure with baby in lap" from North America may be linked to European Lower Paleolithic tradition of baboon head and other ape figures

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo site, Jasper County, Missouri. Stacy Dodd interpretation of an ape figure with her baby

A number of ape-like figures have been identified at this Missouri site, enough to wonder about a connection to Western Europe portable rock art figurative representation of these animals. Or were these figures inspired by monkey species in Central or South America? Could they be attempts at human imagery which we perceive moreso as apes?

Independent rock art researcher Ursel Benekendorff of Germany has documented a large number baboon and ape figures from her Lower Paleolithic site. Benekendorff writes, "My very own investigation  was conducted under such "curiosity" aspects, and seems in retrospect now fully in line with a paradigm change.. Natural features must have been recognised by humans and re-shaped according to own ideas, not always easy to understand. I was very surprised to have brought to light an ancient fauna for this territory, such as apes, hippo, elephant and more, not at all to be expected in the deep gravels of Schleswig-Holstein?"

Photo Copyright James Warwick used with permission. Mother with possible stone tool in her right hand. Baby caught in this photo with one eye open, one eye closed.

Upside down reverse side view of this same "Ape-like figure with baby in lap" takes on symbolic representation of a mammoth, mastodon, or elephant in a head-on view. This is a combination figure stone featuring signigicant animal representations.

Proboscidean head rotated 180 degrees is a possible erect phallus figure


Baboon head on an "Acheulean handaxe" identified by Ken Johnston earlier on this blog. The artifact is from the Paris Basin.

21 June 2014

Bird with head turned back sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo near Joplin, Missouri, places this motif seen in Lower Paleolithic Europe at yet another North American location

Bird with head turned back, "sleeping duck motif" or maybe a preening bird here. From The Old Route 66 Zoo site, #23JP1222. Find by Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber. The sculpture is worked around a hole through the stone which serves to define the bird's neck and head.

Photo of a sleeping duck

From Arkfeld site, Clear Brook, Virginia, seen recently on this blog.

20 June 2014

Perched bird figurine with a human-like face from Missouri is similar to a bird statuette from Virginia, both possible examples of representations of therianthropy ideas

Perched bird figurine facing left from The Old Route 66 Zoo, #23JP1222, near Joplin, Missouri

Adam Arkfeld find, Arkfeld site, #44FK734, Clear Brook, Virginia, was featured earlier this month on this blog

Missouri face on bird figure (left) and Virginia face on bird figure (right) may both reflect the intent to create bird/human combination sculptures. These could be examples of artistic representations of ideas of therianthropy

19 June 2014

Two new mammoth figures from The Old Route 66 Zoo in Missouri include an analog to a mammoth figure from the Arkfeld site in Virginia

"Front-on view of mammoth head, with curled trunk"  Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo, site #23JP1222, Missouri inventory number OR66Z. Many iconic objects from this site have been featured on this blog, including a number of mammoth sculptures.

Stone interpreted as a mammoth head figure by Stacy Dodd

(Left) Interpreted by Stacy Dodd as a mammoth head in left profile view. There appears to be a depiction of the fingers at the tip of the mammoth's trunk. (Right)  From Arkfeld site in Clear Brook, Virginia, a similar left profile view mammoth head figure stone seen recently on this blog.

Jessica Robertson find while artifact hunting in Oklahoma is a stone tablet with apparent engravings

Found in Pushmataha County Oklahoma, "in the mountains" by Jessica Robertson 

The rock is 6.5 x 10.5 and 3" thick. The symmetry of the tablet with a rooftop form, is indeed quite curious.

Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. Side 2 may have remnants of red ocher pigment in its crevices. 

13 June 2014

Animal head sculpture rotated 90 degrees right rocks back and forth on its curved base and may represent a second animal

Sculpture from the Old Route 66 Zoo, site #23JP1222, near Joplin, Missouri. Find by Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber.

Ken Johnston interpretation of feline head sculptural representation, eye and mouth

Saber tooth tiger reconstruction has a distinct chin like the Missouri sculpture

Stacy Dodd interpretation of another animal image facing left, "bear-like," when the animal head is rotated 90 degrees right and stood up on its neck which ends with a curved base, like a rocking horse rail. Photo at right is under flash lighting for an alternative perspective on the stone.

Stacy Dodd interpretation of a built-in spot for placement of a finger to manipulate the stone so it rocks back and forth on its base. The finger hold is also the scruff of the feline's neck, the place a mother cat uses to grab and transport her kittens.

video
Stacy Dodd short video demonstrating how the sculpture rocks back and forth with ease when using the engineered finger spot.

Dodd's excellent interpretation brings this central North American artifact to comparison to rocking sculptures identified and recorded by Denis Argaut of France already seen on this blog. Dodd's demonstration comes very close to producing the galloping horse sound which Argaut has demonstrated on eight stone sculptures from France.

 

12 June 2014

"Face on diamond shape" art motif found in European Lower Paleolithic context is identified at Spout Run site, Bluemont, Virginia

Face on diamond-shaped rock, identified by DeAnna Jerore at the Spout Run site, Bluemont, Virginia

Close up of the face worked into the Spout Run site "face on diamond." It appears the face was given two nostrils, perhaps a symbolic breath-of-life to recognize or affect animation of the stone.




Face on diamond example from Groß Pampau, Germany, Ursel Benekendorff collection. Photograph Copyright Ursel Benekendorff.

Menhir diamond shape with subtle human face stands out in a crowd of boulders.  From Groß Pampau, Germany, Ursel Benekendorff. Photograph Copyright Ursel Benekendorff. 

Jeff Vincent find, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, found in context of many portable rock art pieces, seen in an earlier posting on this blog

Karon Schwab find, Hemet, California, identified as a weathered worked face on a diamond-shaped stone, found in context of other portable rock art objects, seen earlier on this blog.

Diamond-shaped plaque from the Arkfeld site, about 15 miles from the Spout Run site. It seems possible there is a rough facial configuration on this stone.

Ken Johnston interpretation of possible human face visage on the Arkfeld site diamond stone example. I cut a circle around the interpreted face. On the right side the image is processed through Image-J under the D-Stretch plugin used to help interpret rock art images.


Lower Paleolithic find by Jan van Es, Roermond, The Netherlands. "One eye open, other eye shut or missing" motif on a roughly diamond-shaped stone.