02 July 2016

Artist's intent to create a flint bird figure confirmed by its context and by evidence of a glistening 'eye' made by application of a compound material to the stone

'Bird sculpture with glistening eye' 14cm
Ken Johnston find, Flint Ridge, Muskingum County, Ohio

Bird sculpture side 2

Location of the 'glistening eye' on the bird sculpture

The glistening eye is made of a application of a shiny material, like a clear resin, with small bits of sparkling quartz crystals mixed into and adhering with the clear coat. The eye looks as if it is always wet.

The 'eye' location is the exact and only place on this stone that has this shiny and sparkling quality which appears to be the artist's enhancement of the bird to create a more 'life-like' eye. I have never seen flint with the properties on the 'bird's eye' here before but I will be looking in the locus of this find for other similar examples.

Other bird figures from Flint Ridge are seen where the artist exploited natural crystal formations as 'eye' features on the birds. It may be this artist had a nice bird figure but without a more desired 'crystal eye.' So a synthetic eye was made by the clear varnish material mixed with some quartz crystal pieces from elsewhere.

Careful examination of art pieces like this can provide information about the material culture of the people who made them. X-ray florescence (XRF) testing might be able to detect the chemical composition of the clear varnish substance.

Two additional bird figures found at the same place and day at Flint Ridge. These are among many bird figures found in concentrations at Flint Ridge Ohio which have been featured on this blog.

Levallois-like prepared core technology

The striking platform is highlighted by the red arrow.
Here is an analog to the Ohio flake tool from Azokh Cave (Nagorno Karabagh, Lesser Caucasus). "The lithic artefacts presented here were recovered from Units V, III and II during the 2002 –2009 excavation seasons. The available chronological data indicates an age between 293 – 100 Ka for these units." The image here was selected from page 44 of the paper.

The photo of side 2 here shows the striking platform at the very top and the bulb of percussion flowing from it. The material here is oolitic chert from the Vanport formation at Flint Ridge.  4.5cm.

Aerial view of Flint Ridge in Licking County, Ohio. The sun is reflected in flint quarry pits which are flooded with spring snow melt water. They dot more than 2,000 acres of land. Flint Ridge Road runs along the bottom of the photo.

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