09 July 2016

A human head sculpture, perhaps from the North American Archaic Period ca. 9,000 to 3,000 years before present

Dan Fox surface find, Western Kansas

When I first saw this sculpture I was struck by an unusual combination of attributes.

It seems to take general shape from the natural form of the rock and the face is not as symmetrical as typical human face effigies seen in the North American Woodland Period and thereafter (<3,000 years before present (YBP)). This natural rock form base and the asymmetry are suggestive of sculptures suspected of being from the Paleolithic Period in North America >9,000 YBP.

The sculpture also seems to exhibit a coarse stone working sequence involving 1) pecking, 2) grinding and 3) polishing which is often associated with the North American Archaic Period and thereafter <9,000 YBP.

I have only rarely encountered this combination of attributes and it leads me to speculate this sculpture is from the Archaic Period and more likely the Early Archaic than the later.

Here, I illustrate a diminutive left eye and a harsh lower right portion of the head. This could be an artistic convention of creating visual distance as if we are looking at a right 3/4 profile head. It could also be an example of the "one eye open, one eye closed with distortion to the left side of the face' as seen in many examples on this blog.

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