29 September 2015

'Talking to the mammoth' Texas worked flint includes human face image in artistic left 3/4 profile

'Human head in left 3/4 profile on a flint'
David Boies find, Westlake, Texas

Isolated human face worked in the flint while retaining and exploiting the stone's cortex as hair and eyes background. This human portrayal has hair, a forehead, two eyes, a nose, lips, chin, cheeks and ear with ear lobe.

Note the flint work to create a full set of lips on the face portrayal. Just to the right of the lips in the photo are two roughly parallel incised lines in the flint. These are remnants of the scores etched into the flint by the artist to set up the fracture lines in the stone for the two lips.

David Boies has identified many similar portable rock art pieces in the Austin area and some have been featured on this blog.

When the stone with the face figure is rotated 180 degrees it has a shape close to some stylized mammoth icons in portable rock art. Human and mammoth icons are sometimes combined as is likely the case here.

Illustration of mammoth bust in left profile which may have been more clear many thousands of years ago.

The human's 'ear lobe' is the 'eye' of the mammoth and the 'lips' of the human are the 'ear' of the mammoth.

Perhaps the human is symbolically talking to or calling to the mammoth in this piece.

27 September 2015

Italian rock art researcher identifies another figure stone at Piacenza

Luigi Chiapparoli find, Piacenza, Italy

Luigi Chiapparoli illustration of a face and a hand worked into the rough stone. "In this stone I see a musician" he commented.

Close up of the carved face looking left with a circle around another face I saw on the primary figure's forehead.

There may be a few other faces depicted on this stone.

17 September 2015

A cult of silent nighttime hunters? Beak on recent bird sculpture find lends support to earlier hypothesis of 'Clovis spear points as owl-symbolic'

Recently discovered owl sculpture with two other birds depicted on its face as featured earlier this month.

In prior years on this blog I identified two Ohio spear point artifacts which are possibly from the "pre-Clovis era" (before about 13,500 years ago) and which may indicate attempts to make the points symbolic icons of the owl.

Illustration of interpreted owl eye and beak features on the Licking County, Ohio, owl sculpture and a close up of the 'hooked owl beak with two nostrils'

Recently I discovered and identified a second flint and quartz crystal owl sculpture from Licking County, Ohio, which has a beak depiction on the bird which is strikingly similar to what I suspected was a beak depiction on one of the owl-iconic spear points. This post introduces this comparison.

Coschocton County spear point made of Coschocton flint found by Dr. Robert Curry near Wakatomika Creek on his farm near Dresden, Ohio, and acquired by Ken Johnston. Described as a "Cactus Hill" type after study by Dr. James Adovasio of Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute. It is likely pre-Clovis and has two similar and symmetrical divots in the flint in the anatomically correct position for 'owl eyes.' Featured earlier on this blog.

Licking County, Ohio, broken spear point base typed by me as "pre-Clovis" because of the basal concavity, large flake removal and its thinness. It resembles some Spanish Solutrean bases I have seen. The base is centered on what I have interpreted as a 'beak' on the face of the owl form.

The beak may be a natural imperfection in the flint or it may have been etched into the flint. The feature seems to demonstrate starts and stops as would be seen with human carving. There is another 'beak' on the opposite side of this piece which was featured earlier on this blog. This side seems to depict a hooked beak.

Spear point 'owl beak' compared to sculpture 'owl beak.' Their similar shape and execution on the flint leads me to conclude this could be an artistic convention to create the owl beak anatomical feature which may likely be found on other owl-iconic artifacts in my local area and perhaps beyond.

I think the new find supports my earlier hypothesis that Clovis points are "owl-symbolic" where the fluted channel came to represent the more explicit 'eyes' and 'beaks' which may have been made on pre-Clovis spear points. The removal of the channel flake may have been a quicker way to produce the owl without having to take so much time for more time involved eye and beak details.

Even if the flute channel is not related to the owl symbolism the basal tangs on Clovis points remain as symbolic of the ears of an owl. This may have been done to bring the magic power of the owls' hunting prowess, evidenced by night vision and silent flight capabilities, to the human hunt.

Dr. Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter has described the relatively fast emerging and short life of Clovis tool kits as a possible cult-like response to the need for an urgent change in established life-ways. One may speculate that the reduction of available megafauna at the terminal Pleisistocene may have triggered the need for a more focused and fully expressed ritualistic symbol-driven hunting system.

If large animal protein, bone and ivory were less available as scavenged items, hunting and the use of spear points may have emerged to continue to maintain elements of the big animal culture. Maybe the 'owl' icon was seen as a way to improve their odds.
According to the BBC series "Planet Earth", elephant night vision is "not much better than our own." This puts elephants at a notable disadvantage when there are hungry predators around, as demonstrated in the series, when a pride of around 30 lions takes down a medium-sized elephant which has difficulty seeing them once it gets separated from its herd.
Two Paleolithic spear points from Benton County, Tennessee, Ernest Sims Collection.


As of now the "Clovis spear points as owl-symbolic" hypothesis may be weak with just a few examples but by posting my observations here maybe someone in the future who has made similar observations will have a reference.

10 September 2015

Prepared core Levallois-like point was centered on two natural crystal pipes through the flint and was likely hung as a pendant

Ken Johnston find, Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio

Prepared core Levallois-like point is centered on two natural crystal pipes through the flint and was likely hung as a pendant. Lithics scholar Blane Ensor has described a Levallois-like industry in the Southeastern United States.

The top two of the three holes in the flint are crystal lined pipes which penetrate the rock.

The top hole has use wear in the places one would expect to see wear created by suspension of the point on a cord. It may have been worn as a piece of jewelry.

Ventral surface of the prepared core point. This surface has been retouched to open access to the crystal lined pipes which run through the stone and to smooth sharp edges on the proximal end of the point.

Flint Ridge, Ohio, Levallois-like point

Animation of Levallois point core preparation and removal from the core

The famous Middle Paleolithic West Tofts, U.K., handaxe attributed to Neanderthals was centered on a scallop shell inclusion in the flint in a somewhat similar manner of the centering of the crystal pipes in the Licking County, Ohio, example.

Many Ohio coarse stone tool types are overlooked by collectors and archaeologists. This limestone piece may have been created using a prepared core technique and then was smoothed out by heavy handling. Here, pointed and spatula ends provide two tools in one. Wear on the stone indicates both ends were used.

Another example of a recurring form at some portable rock art sites. I described them in the 2012 illustration above.

Resting spot to facilitate the thumb in an optimal grip on the tool.

03 September 2015

Vanport chert sculpture depicts an owl with a quartz crystal bird at its beak and another bird figure sharing the owl's right eye

Flint Ridge, Ohio, bird sculpture stands upright on its tail
Ken Johnston find, Licking County, Ohio (10cm)

The raptor, presumably an owl, in other perspectives



Illustration series of another interpreted owl face with shaped bird in crystals at its beak

Crystal cavity in the stone worked into the left profile of a bird figure depicted at the owl's beak with its own beak pointing to the upper left. It has worked split tail feathers upon close inspection of the stone.



Illustration #1: Owl face with crystal bird shaped cavity outlined at its yellow marked beak. Its right eye is circled and the left eye is marked with a line. Illustration #2: 'Three birds in one view' with blue highlights and yellow beak added to the third bird form. The right eye of the owl is also the left eye of the blue bird. The blue bird has the crystal bird as it wing and tail.

Flint Ridge Ohio owl sculpture, September 2015

'Owl face' is a second very similar example from Licking County, Ohio

This owl sculpture in flint and quartz crystal was found as part of the Buckeye Lake Paleolithic Sculpture Hoard. It is depicting a perched or still bird at its beak and a bird in flight at its right eye.

The significance here is two flint and crystal owl sculptures both depicting two more birds on the owls' faces, one associated with the beak and the other associated with the right eye of the owls.

The find locations for the two owl sculptures are 11 miles apart, from Harbor Hills to Flint Ridge. The red line on the map crosses Interstate-70 and U.S. Route 40, The Old National Road. Buckeye Lake is about 25 miles east of downtown Columbus, Ohio.