30 November 2016

Limestone birds in flight with wings from The Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia

'Stone birds in flight with wings'
The Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia

This sculpted piece of limestone may be interpreted as having at least two figurative bird possibilities. Much of the portable rock art featured on this blog incorporates two or more creatures, often exploiting the visual ambiguity of the stone or involving shared body elements or optical illusions.

Here a bird with tail at left may be interpreted as like a raptor while a second bird with head at left may be taken as like a goose. This could be a predator-prey pairing as is seen in other examples on this blog.

29 November 2016

Stone bird looking right from Missouri

'Bird figure looking right'
From The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, #23JP1222
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, Jasper County, Missouri



28 November 2016

Lion in estrus in coital crouch position from The Old Route 66 Zoo

Lion in estrus in coital crouch position
From The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, #23JP1222
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, Jasper County, Missouri
Illustration of the interpreted feline in an exaggerated crouching position. The cat's tail is depicted as a stub as if the rest of it is draped over the right side of the cat and outside viewer perspective.

An ocher-caked feline in coital crouch position I found at the Spout Run Paleolithic site in Bluemont, Virginia. This art motif is seen in several examples on this blog.

A house cat in estrus in the feline coital crouch position

22 November 2016

Human head, bird and standing bull figures from Clear Brook, Virginia

Sculpted 'Human head'
Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK731

Adam Arkfeld has identified a bird figure facing left here. Although it may appear to some as a natural rock, this piece has been sculpted on the entire surface visible here. There is also a manufactured 'eye' in correct artistic position. It has acquired a weathered surface with calcite accumulations which attest to its great age. This is a very typical crude Paleolithic bird figure stone.

Siberian bird figurine identified by archaeologist M. A. Kiriyak at the Russian Upper Paleolithic Bol'shoi El'gakhchan I site

The bird's 'eye' illustrated on the Arkfeld Site figure

Siberian bird figure

'Standing bull' animal figure identified by Adam Arkfeld at his site

Bull, human and bird painted scene from the cave at Lascaux, France

15 November 2016

A standing mammoth sculpture with a human face carved on its posterior from Missouri portable rock art site

'Mammoth right profile with human face carved on its posterior'
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo Site, #23JP1222

Close up of human face along with illustration of features carved in the stone

The 'mammoth with human or feline face at its posterior' rock art motif in North America was first described here and is seen in many examples on this blog.



Abstract - This paper outlines a “symbolic ecology” for the Aurignacian of Central and Southwestern Germany. Drawing upon data derived from cultural anthropology, psychology and zoobiology, we compare the sociocultural modalities of “managing” the recurrent theme of the mammoth and the cave lion with the encounter and interaction conditions underlying these two specific animal-human relations in the glacial landscapes of the European Early Upper Palaeolithic. We propose that being-in-the-world as highly mobile hunter-gatherers living in open and densely populated “animal-landscapes” strongly promotes non-Cartesian understandings of the animal-human interface, ultimately favouring notions of co-habitation, proximity and social intimacy. By reviewing key aspects of mammoth and cave lion ethology and socioecology, we point out the natural significance and relevance of these animals for human forager groups operating in the same environments. Moreover, we argue that this “natural significance” is directly reflected in the archaeological signature of the Central and Southwestern German Aurignacian that assigns these creatures a pre-eminent place in its material culture repertoire – for instance in craftsmanship, subsistence and settlement organisation and thus in areas deeply anchored in every-day practice. Although there is a clear convergence between the natural prominence of these animals and their sociocultural salience, different eco-behavioural profiles of mammoth and cave lion seem to have motivated varying modalities to engage with them materially. This, in turn, suggests different trajectories of constructing the animal-human interface and therefore a different “status” of both animals in the wider “Glaubenswelt” (belief world) of Aurignacian regional communities. The deep entrenchment of both animals in the sociocultural world as well as the rather unique interaction conditions they offer to human co-dwellers point to the social importance of mammoths and cave lions and thus to animistic and essentially relational ontologies. This, finally, demonstrates the blurring of the Cartesian boundary between animal and human domains and introduces the possibility of pondering aspects of “animal-personhood” in this part of the Aurignacian world. We conclude our survey by discussing some critical implications that arise when reading the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition from the perspective of animal-human interactions and the entanglement of ontologies and material signatures.

I think these North American feline and mammoth art sculpture observations are either related to an Aurignacian art expression through time and space across an intercontinental mammoth steppe biome or they are a convergent example of how geographically broad and similarly meaningful the glacial human/feline/mammoth landscape and subsistence environment was to the early human experience.

This sculptural 'template' or 'scheme' of a mammoth/human combination must have had a culturally associated meaning for the people who made them. Earlier this year I speculated it may illustrate a scene from a Paleolithic proto-Polyphemus tale.

11 November 2016

Two left portraits in stone of archaic hominins from North America, The Old Route 66 Zoo, Site #23JP222

'Human looking to upper left'
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, OR66Z site, Missouri

Human head with prominent brow facing left

Two left portraits in stone of archaic hominins from North America, The Old Route 66 Zoo, Site #23JP222

07 November 2016

Engraved stone bar from Arkfeld Site associated with Levallois-like prepared core lithic technology similar to Shuidonggou Paleolithic site, northwest China

'Engraved stone bar' associated with Levallois-like technology
Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia

Shuidonggou Paleolithic site, northwest China

Professor Gao, director of this study, stated: “The SDG Paleolithic site includes 12 localities, ranging in date from Early Late Paleolithic to Late Paleolithic. The engraved stone artifact was found at Locality 1, which is about 30 ka BP. As the first Paleolithic site discovered in China, SDG Locality 1 is distinctive in Late Paleolithic industry of north China, because of its components of elongated tool blank production and Levallois-like technology.

06 November 2016

Portraits in stone from The Arkfeld SIte

'Human bust in right profile'
Arkfeld Site, Clear Brook, Virginia

'Human head in left profile'

'Human head with beard right profile'

'Stone portraits' have been found in great numbers in a concentrated area at Arkfeld Site. They cannot be accounted for statistically as the result of the chaotic forces of Mother Nature or pareidolia on the part of multiple observers. Because they are found in association with other discrete art motifs and tools they are likely to be objects of human manufacture and/or curation.

Arkfeld Site artifacts

More Arkfeld Site artifacts

03 November 2016

A pebble with four faces and other worked figure stones identified by Wisconsin farmer and amature archaeologist

'Pebble with four faces'
Andrew Deviley finds, Brown County, Wisconsin

"I'm located right outside Green Bay, Wisconsin. I've been finding artifacts on our farm or nearby that seem to have crude faces on a lot of them. I do have some that are more than a head but by far majority are just heads, animal and human. They can be looking left, right or straight on. There's a variety of ways they are made, some just three holes others with mouth open and some with or without a mouth. I have several that contain a high number of faces, these rocks depending on how you're holding it or looking at it brings out different faces. A lot of times they are sharing or intertwining parts of faces to create new ones. I have some where each edge has a face looking left or right depending on how you're holding it. Have you ever seen anything like that?" -Andrew Deviley

Face two on the pebble

Face three on the pebble

Face four on the pebble

 Flaked human head likeness

 Human head figure in right profile with 'open mouth'

Human head figure in right profile

Andrew Deviley finds, Brown County, Wisconsin

02 November 2016

A two-sided life-size standing human head sculpture with a 'natural eye' from the Missouri mega portable rock art site The Old Route 66 Zoo (site #23JP1222)

'Life-size human head sculpture looking left'

A two-sided standing human head sculpture with a 'natural eye' from the Missouri mega portable rock art site The Old Route 66 Zoo (site #23JP1222). The head is in profile looking left in this photo.

Side two of the sculpture presents a face looking right in 3/4 profile with both eyeball details as deliberately worked features in the stone. Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, near Joplin Missouri. Photography is by Stacy Dodd.

The find as illustrated by Ken Johnston