20 December 2015

Vietnam cave river stone head likeness of Shiva

'Shiva stone head'
Thath Chanuhacha collection, Bangkok, Thailand
Thath writes: Dear Ken, I just came back from holiday in Vietnam...This time I discovered a river stone from the area of Hoa Lu, Tam Coc or Halong Bay on land. The place is considered the most beautiful scenery of rice field in Vietnam. On a river trip by rowing a small boat and on approaching a cave I spotted a peculiar large pebble in the crystal clear water which is flowing into the cave. When I picked it up it turned out to be like Shiva head and the stone is very beautiful when reflected with sunlight... This face happens to be exactly in the style of the Champa's Shiva image.

Separately from Thath's interpretation, Ken Johnston illustration of a human head facing left split with a primate or hominin head on the opposite side in right 3/4 profile view. The approximate facial features have been added by the illustration to facilitate interpretation of the details of the two joined heads, a sculptural janiform. The sculpture may have been sharper at one time and become more water worn and visually ambiguous in the river flow into the cave.

The two-headed motif of the Vietnam sculpture is the same as the motif on this very recently featured Tennessee sculpture. In both, the more robust face with the brow ridge is seen on the right in 3/4 profile view.

Paleolithic art author Pietro Gaietto's conceptual illustration using skulls of a sculpture type juxtaposing an anatomically modern human head (at left) with an archaic type human head (Neanderthal, at right).

Gaietto's web site includes this information: "Sculptures of lower and middle Paleolithic are eight types:
1) human head
2) animal head
3) human head two-faced (bold added here for emphasis) 
4) animal head two-faced
5) human head joined for the neck at the head of animal
6) human head mixed to animal head
7) naked woman (Venus)
8) head of animal with human body.
"It is important to consider that the human two-faced head is not an imitation of nature, as it did not exist, but is an invention of the spiritual culture of humanity. All these eight types of sculptures appear in the Lower Paleolithic and are all linked to the cult, that is to religion." 
Link to Pietro Gaietto's Museum of the origins of man

A recent paper suggests the possibility that what we have thought of as 'archaic humans' survived until more recently than previously understood. December 17, 2015, A Hominin Femur with Archaic Affinities from the Late Pleistocene of Southwest China

Abstract

The number of Late Pleistocene hominin species and the timing of their extinction are issues receiving renewed attention following genomic evidence for interbreeding between the ancestors of some living humans and archaic taxa. Yet, major gaps in the fossil record and uncertainties surrounding the age of key fossils have meant that these questions remain poorly understood. Here we describe and compare a highly unusual femur from Late Pleistocene sediments at Maludong (Yunnan), Southwest China, recovered along with cranial remains that exhibit a mixture of anatomically modern human and archaic traits. Our studies show that the Maludong femur has affinities to archaic hominins, especially Lower Pleistocene femora. However, the scarcity of later Middle and Late Pleistocene archaic remains in East Asia makes an assessment of systematically relevant character states difficult, warranting caution in assigning the specimen to a species at this time. The Maludong fossil probably samples an archaic population that survived until around 14,000 years ago in the biogeographically complex region of Southwest China.

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