30 July 2016

Black flint artifact from the Island of Oléron, France, has 'face on rhomboid' and 'water bird cresting human forehead' art motifs

'Face mask on rhomboid' art motif
Henri Valentie pierre-figure find, Island of Oléron, France

Mr. Valentie writes: Here is a stone figure of 11/10/10 cm black flint (typical of the island of Oléron). We can see beautiful retouching down on the right of the photo on the first picture. We notice the absence of the left eye. On the 2nd it is rather a feline head ? Piece found on the island of Oléron. amitiées, Henri

In another view of this same stone is a quasi-anthropomorphic head with face and neck. I think this is a human depiction where the human has has an elongated animal-like nose or muzzle as Paleolithic art author R. Dale Guthrie has described. On the top the human head is a duck-like bird head figure profile facing left.

I interpret the figure of the head of a water bird cresting the human's forehead. Here is an illustration of the interpreted human and bird elements of this view of the sculpture.

"Many human faces in Paleolithic art look a little like those of large mammals, with an elongated nose or muzzle. These are my drawings to illustrate the character or flavor of this gradient"
(c) Copyright R. Dale Guthrie, "The Nature of Paleolithic Art," 2005, page 92

28 July 2016

France carving of 'male reindeer bellowing during the rutting season' may have been made on a plaque in the shape of a mammoth body profile with a human face on its posterior as seen in North America

From Abri de la Madeleine, France, Magdalenian, 17,000 to 12,000 years before present

Photos by and courtesy of Don Hitchcock who has an excellent web site featuring the art from la Madeleine and many other "Old World" archaeology sites. If you are unable to see the reindeer carving here, a higher resolution photo is available at Don's web site.

This stone has a detailed etching of a reindeer on it and I have recognized its overall shape is very likely symbolic and represents a mammoth body in left profile with a human face profile on its posterior. This motif is seen in many North American examples featured on this blog like this one and this one from Virginia's Arkfeld Site. This places this art motif on two continents.

The method of stonework is different from that used to create the reindeer but faint traces of it still remain. The 'head bump' of the mammoth may be seen along with curvature of its 'trunk' on the left side.

On the right side, the human face profile has etching and stone removal to define facial features and what appears to be a nicely ground 'eye.'

Illustration of Ken Johnston interpretation of the human face profile on the posterior of the mammoth. Click photos to expand and toggle between the illustrated and non-illustrated photos.

Source: Original, Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, 2014

Illustration of the carving 'Male reindeer bellowing during the rutting season' which I propose was made on a mammoth and human combination art plaque.

Here, I processed the photo digitally with the Image-J rock art plug in D-stretch and one of the files generated made the reindeer carving more visible on the plaque. Thanks to the plug-in creator Jon Harman for making this tool available to amateurs for free.

Within the overall frame of the mammoth and human profile, another mammoth has been created by this artist. This mammoth has a trunk line etched into the stone and its head follows the head of the larger mammoth. The mammoth 'eye' element on the stone is also the optimal 'kill point' for a spear to penetrate the reindeer. 

The mammoth and human combination silhouette may be interpreted as "special framing" for the image of the reindeer in this case.

27 July 2016

Solitary Thailand pebble has human modifications and is a feline and human combination figure-stone

 
Thath Chanuhacha collection, Bangkok, Thailand

Thath is a rock and mineral collector and I have featured a couple of his iconic finds on this blog. This stone was collected by his father and recently found in a box of his affects. It has no specific find location or archaeological context. However, I think a careful scientific examination of this pebble figure would confirm it has been humanly modified in the past.

In the above photo there are three incised lines across the 'left forehead,' two lines radiating from the outside corner of the 'right eye,' and another line serving as a 'mouth.' 

This is a view of the stone turned a bit to the left. The left 'eye' area may have excavated and shows evidence of being ground to relative smoothness compared to the natural rind of the stone. The nose area may have been expanded and the mouth appears to have been made by exacting a chip from the stone.

When the stone is rotated again a very plausible feline head may be seen. What was the human's nose in the photo above this one becomes the feline's nose in this perspective. This sharing of body elements like this is seen many, many times in portable rock art featured on this blog. The feline's 'mouth' may have been created by removal a wedge-shaped piece from the lower left of the stone.

Here, faint traces of a human 'skull-mask' may be seen incorporated into the 'muzzle' area of the feline head. Two eyes and a nose may be seen and they have been worked in a similar technical fashion. The human skull shares its 'mouth' with the 'mouth' of the feline. The cat's 'nose' is like a hole on the top of the skull-head. This may be symbolic of a feline bite to the head.

When the feline head view is rotated 180 degrees a simple human face likeness is found. The area around the 'eyes' appears to have been ground down to expand them or better define them. A natural crack in the stone has been exploited as a 'mouth' by removal of a chip under the eyes. Please note the figure stands on a flat base with this orientation.

Even though there no meaningful known context for this find, the presence of apparent workmanship to finalize several iconic images on one stone supports a hypothesis that this is a figure-stone. Further, it may exhibit a known motif of a 'human face with left eye missing associated with a feline' and I think implying a feline bite to the head in what is likely an expression of a deeply rooted-in-time folk tale or the like. This piece could be an important find as it would show this motif in south east Asia like a few other examples.

21 July 2016

A flaked sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo depicts a human face with a prominent brow ridge

'Human face sculpture with prominent brow ridge'
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo, Jasper County, Missouri. Site #23JP1222

The facial expression and the life-like detail of the 'lips' indicate this sculpture's maker had a combination of artistic talent and highly developed stone working skill.

One of the last Tasmanian aboriginals photographed holding large rhomboid with repeating rhomboid pattern on its surface. This may be seen as a human phenotype which has resulted from isolation, perhaps of a more archaic human such as Homo heidelbergensis.

16 July 2016

A 'Lion head left profile bust' sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo

A 'Lion head left profile bust' sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, near Joplin, Missouri, site #23JP1222

Illustration of the interpreted feline head features


Another 'lion head' sculpture from The Old Route 66 Zoo site featured earlier on this blog.

A zoomorphic figure with traces of incised lines from The Old Route 66 Zoo, site #23JP1222

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, Jasper County, Missouri

The Old Route 66 Zoo has produced several hundred iconic pieces within a few acres of land along the Old Route 66, including these examples from a February posting.

Some of the main stone removals and incised lines illustrated

A close up of the head of the zoomorph. Stacy Dodd processed his photo using the DStretch rock art photo plug-in to ImageJ to help provide another perspective on the stone. I think Stacy was the first person to apply this software tool to portable rock art a few years back.

To me, this piece looks like a combination of human, bison and mammoth attributes into a fantastic creature.

14 July 2016

An Arkfeld Site 'mother holding child' limestone plaquette is in a timeless portable rock art motif

'Mother holding child'
Adam Arkfeld find, Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK731

Ken Johnston illustration of the Adam Arkfeld interpretation of the detail of this figure. The 'baby' may be seen inside the blue circle. Arms, hair and mouth are also illustrated. Click photo to expand and toggle to compare the photo with the illustrated photo.



A cut-out photo of the 'baby' within the 'frame' carved in bas relief
'Mother and child' in Adam Arkfeld's hand

'Mother and child' worked stone figure
Jan van Es find, The Netherlands, Lower Paleolithic

Adam Arkfeld noted a similarity of his find to one he had seen on this blog. The person in the figure here is truncated at the waist just like in the Virginia, USA, example. I contacted Jan van Es and he replied as follows. Translated from Dutch:

"Indeed, it comes from the same family. Sometimes it has a slightly different view as the polymorph but he certainly belongs to. I call it family sculptures, because of this series are at least 20 singular types but they make a link with each other .

Nice find it, it gives so nice that it was a universal thought!

I often look at your site, there are beautiful sculptures, it is amazing that the professionals do not get beyond tools and their technical aspect . I send some material to you by mail after this . Have a top summer and a relaxed time .

Regards Jan"

Another Jan van Es find worked stone figure from a Lower Paleolithic art and tool context in The Netherlands.

11 July 2016

A Columbus, Ohio, 'exotic' flint worked in the well-documented North American Paleolithic art motif of 'mammoth with human face on posterior' also has feline and horse images

 
'Mammoth icon facing left with human face profile on its posterior facing right'
Ken Johnston find at Whetstone Park, Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio

Side 2 of the flint also exhibits the North American Paleolithic art motif of a mammoth form with a human face form on its rear. This motif has been described in many examples on this blog from a life-size carved mammoth on a rock outcrop in Virginia to smaller pieces like this one at 4cm. I have described it from Licking County, Ohio, about 40 miles east of the location of this find. The typical mammoth head dome and the trunk curvature are captured in views on both sides. 

Here the human is facing left, mammoth facing right, the opposite of the direction of side one. So, the human face profile here has mammoth head dome and trunk line on the other side, and mammoth facing right has a human on its other side. There is some worked human eye detail on this side. This is a flint art object made of exotic chert material originating about 150 miles distance near Carter Caves, Kentucky (more below). I do not think it was a tool.

Both sides with illustrations of the interpreted two human facial profiles and the two mammoth profiles on this one flint.


Here, I illustrate subtle but very intentional representations of two additional creatures on this flint. They are in line with other figure stones described on this blog. On one side is a 'horse head' sandwiched between the human and the mammoth trunk with an eye divot in the flint made at the correct spot. The other side has a 'feline face' with two eyes, a nose bridge and a distinct feline mouth. The combination of two humans, two mammoths, a horse and a feline make this an extraordinary polymorphic art work with likely great symbolic significance to its maker.

This is a small mammoth representation to the right of the feline face which was made by a precise removal to create a 'trunk' and a divot to create the 'eye' of the little mammoth. Click photos to expand and toggle. If one looks at it on the photo marked 'feline face' it has flaring ears like an elephant charging (a lion). This is a an animal behavioral activity captured by a human in the permanence of stone.

A aerial view of Whetstone Park in Franklin County, Columbus, Ohio. The Olentangy River is seen on the left (Olentangy R.->Scioto R. ->Ohio R.). The fields to the right of the river are the east flood plain. To the right of the 'red dot' is a rise of 40 feet. The slope to this rise was eroding these artifacts. The main Columbus north-south drag, High Street, may be seen at the upper right corner. The site was fully glaciated in the Wisconsinan and it is thought to have reached its final maximum at 18,000 years ago and then started its retreat north.

The mammoth/human combination flint is made of stone material called Carter Cave Chert. The route on the map goes across the Ohio River and follows the Scioto River to Columbus and then up the Olentangy River to the Clintonville neighborhood's Whetstone Park. The chert material is considered "exotic" because of the distance from its find location to its source. Carter Cave material is rarely found north of Columbus.

Columbus, Ohio Levallois-like artifact. The core preparation evidenced here has been described as "preferential unidirectional-convergent."

Lyn's daughter Brennah and I have been picking up rocks and artifacts for the last 8 of her 13 years. A few weeks back I showed her what Levallois-like prepared core technology artifacts look like and told her to be on the look out for them. Within a couple of minutes of me saying we were on top of artifacts while on our walk at Whetstone's Park Of Roses yesterday she produced this possible example and several other crude coarse stone artifacts.

Mostly coarse stone tools. Artifacts identified on a family Sunday walk. The one at lower left is a simple broken pebble, either a core to generate another tool or tools or a desired end product itself- a rounded stone with a sharp edge. The mammoth/human combination flint is pictured at lower right. I thought it was likely a tool until I got home and took a closer at it. Now, I think it is portable rock art.

All of these items were found eroding from a slope in 5 minutes time in about a 9 square meter space. Thanks Brennah!

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.

Acheulean-like handaxe from Arkfeld site has faint traces of a human face representation within its 'frame'

Acheulean-like handaxe from Arkfeld site has faint traces of a human face representation within its 'frame.' Clear Brook, Virginia. 13cm

The mouth here in particular has been been worked with quite a bit of deliberate focus. It is an incision or groove in the rock which would have taken repeated grinding to create. There may have been a large stone removal to create the 'cheek' before the mouth was added. Click photos to expand.

Other finds at Arkfeld Site are similar like this one and this one featured in the past month. They all have simple icons on worked tools.

Here is some speculation about possible icon status of the cone shaped grooves highlighted in this illustration. The hat is an Aboriginal Australian ceremonial dance hat.