31 May 2015
The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, 23JP1222, recent finds include a mammoth-human sculpture and a feline-human sculpture made in the same artistic convention
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, Jasper County, Missouri
Ken Johnston interpretation of a mammoth facing left with a crude human face depicted on its posterior. The mammoth has an eye divot in more or less anatomically correct position for such a depiction and may also have a tusk depicted. The sculpture stands upright in correct orientation. This is now a well-described North American portable rock art motif with other examples from the The Old Route 66 Zoo Site already seen on this blog.
Mammoth form with eye with rough human face depicted on its back end
This Old Route 66 Zoo Site sculpture found this Spring depicts a human head looking left and a lion head facing right
Cut out image of the human face depicted at left on the sculpture and opposite the lion head figure. Two short incised lines terminate at their intersection to form a "V-shape" nose on the human face.
Lion head right profile
There is a nested image of a second human face which may be seen within the lion head. The left eye of the second human mask is the right eye on the lion head figure (circled). This sharing of right and left eyes between the lion and human may have had symbolic meaning because it is seen in several examples.
Combined human and feline heads looking in opposite directions, Janus-like
These two sculptures from this site use the same artistic convention of a human head combined with an animal, facing in opposite directions. This is a convention well documented on this blog. The human head combined with animal head is one of the primary stone sculpture types of Paleolithic times according to author Pietro Gaietto.
29 May 2015
Arkfeld Site May 23 weekend dig produces a possible anthropomorphic knife and more art and tools to be studied in coming months
Arkfeld Site stone knife
Same side, flipped upside-down
Ken Johnston illustration of the anthropomorphic features described by Adam Arkfeld.
Bird at left recovered in the May 23 dig compares favorably to another Arkfeld site stone bird figure seen at right and featured in an earlier posting on this blog.
Three similar stone forms identified by Adam Arkfeld. These objects resemble mammoth heads and trunks in left profile. With a large number of mammoth figures from this site patterns like this should be considered as possible iterations of the same iconic form.
These three are also possible tool forms without any iconic intent. They all present a pointed working bit and may be considered burins, perhaps used to score bone to access marrow meats. If they were also intended to be mammoth-iconic, the tip of the mammoth's trunk also serves as the working bit of the tool.
Arkfeld Site Menhir (possible standing stone)
Anthropomorphic head boulder with possible human modification to expand eye openings and create a nose channel and a mouth. Perhaps an example of the Paleolithic art motif of "left eye missing with distortion to left side of the face"
A "chain gang" of archaeologists surveys a terrace at The Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia, on May 23, 2015
Site owner Adam Arkfeld examines a freshly rinsed stone
site lead archaeologist Jack Hranicky examines lithic materials on his workbench.
24 May 2015
Alan Day find, Day's Knob, Guernsey County, Ohio
"Here are two nice new limestone Figure Stone finds from my site in Ohio, same provenience, roughly 25 cm below the current terrain surface. In the larger piece, note the incorporation of both utility and imagery that is common at this site." - Alan Day
Alan Day demonstrates the utilitarian aspect of the figure. Day says rock art researcher Mrs. Ursel Benekendorff of Hamburg, Germany, has suggested this pointed end of the sculpture may have been used to plant it in the ground at varying locations.
Ken Johnston interpretation of a bird head mixed in with the female figure
The female figure may also incorporate bird imagery. The bottom of the woman's legs may be seen as the beak of a goose-like flying water bird. There is a circular bas relief "eye" in a more or less anatomically correct position for such a bird figure.
Canada Goose head while in flight
This is a statue from the Day's Knob site earlier interpreted by Alan Day as a "bird-venus" sculpture invoking both human feminine and bird-like qualities.
Figure stone number two recently recovered at Day's Knob.
Day's Knob archaeological site location of recent finds
'Woman with Goitre' from Grimaldi Italy was found between 3 and 4.2 m deep in a layer which is probably the Epigravettian. A radiocarbon date of 14,110+/-150 BP. From Don's Maps. Photo: Randall White, Source: White (2002), Day's Knob, Ohio, USA, artifact at right.
21 May 2015
Elmpt, Germany, finds from the collection of Jan van Es, (52, 28mm)
This artifact is from a geologic context suggesting a date >500,000 years old. This figure seems to have a combination of feline and human qualities. Objects like this may have been hand held props, like puppets, used in dramatic presentations and storytelling.
Manuported, aggregated or lightly worked iconic objects attributed to early humans from the Elmpt, Germany, gravel pit archaeological site worked by Jan van Es. Note that these figures are smaller than 2cm.
Nature delivers stones which were recognized in the past to resemble other things and collected and curated in the human cultural sphere. Unusual concentrations of visually significant or exotic lithic materials must be considered as possible trace evidence of Stone Age human activity.
17 May 2015
David Boies find, Westlake, Texas, in a strong portable rock art context.
This pebble has been pecked to produce an oval mouth-like form. Stone has been removed to affect distortion to the left side of the face. I interpret a stone like this as portraying a normal right eye and with an injury to the left side of the face which is compromising the eye socket and the left eye.
As I have speculated in the past, this may depict a lion's bite to the human head as an element of an ancient folktale or the like. This combines two of the earliest memes in Palaeoart, "predator bite to the head" and "one eye open, one eye closed." (James Harrod, originsnet.org) I think the art suggests these two memes may be somehow related for some ancient peoples.
The left eye stone insert
The geologically fresh nature of the stuck pebble in the eye position with its squared edges supports human work rather than natural coincidence for the origin of this feature. The eye socket has also been expanded to accommodate this eye insert. This is seen in other examples from the Boies collection and from North America and Netherlands sites worked by Jan van Es for both eye and tooth features in the art.
In his book The Nature of Paleolithic Art, R. Dale Guthrie illustrates his interpretation of an engraving found on a portable stone in a French cave which depicts a lion bite to the head. This art motif may describe the source-event for the left eye missing face mask motif.
10 May 2015
05 May 2015
A sculpture with a bird-man nested among conchoidal fracture flake scars and a bovid and bird together on the edge of a cupule evokes symbolism similar to Lascaux Cave scene
David Boies find, Westlake, Texas. Natural conchoidal thermal fracture flake scars from freezing of the chert practically cover this side of the artifact.
Illustration of the sculpted face detected by David Boies
Bird emerging from egg imagery, where the human face depiction is on the belly of the bird.
There is an image of a bovid head on the rim of the cupule "mouth" of the human.
The right eye of the human figure is also a bird figure
The bird may be seen as "perched" on the head of the bovid
Bird perched on the head of a bison, perhaps looking for nesting material, a warm place with a view or lunch, is a fairly common scene in nature.
Lascaux cave, France, scene depicting a bird-man, a bird and an aurochs, ca. 17,300 years before present.
I propose the bird-man, bird and bovid imagery depicted in the Lascaux cave scene and on the Texas sculpture are expressions of related culturally mediated symbol systems found on two continents.