About

"Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stone and good in every thing."
-William Shakespeare, As you like it, 1599.

My objectives for portablerockart.com

To document, interpret and present anomalous portable rock objects, from amateur-identified cultural sites, which are suspected of having been modified or curated as "art" by prehistoric people in order that archaeologists may identify similar potential art objects in situ and document this phenomenon- a heretofore neglected component of the 'official human record'- more systemically. Interpretation means describing and comparing forms, shapes, icons, common patterns, subtle relationships, etc. and my rare attempts at specific meanings are speculative and likely futile.

To provide a comprehensive online resource center of photos and writing about portable rock art from laypersons, amateur archaeologists, scholars and researchers around the world.

To promote healthy discussion and debate regarding issues of verification of artifactuality and intended iconography in portable rock art.

To challenge the “pareidolia accusation” as a valid de rigueur argument against possible intended imagery incorporated into portable rock art and help bring this part of the archaeological record to the higher level of scientific inquiry and scrutiny it deserves.

To explore relationships between portable rock art modalities and human evolution, population diasporas, cognitive capabilities and life ways.

Ken Johnston, avocational archaeologist (publisher)
Contact: kennethbjohnston@yahoo.com


My opinion: There is no dearth of U.S.A. Paleolithic art

It is claimed there is little evidence of Paleolithic art (palaeoart) in the U.S.A.  Of some 600,000 artifacts, 1000 or so pieces of pre to post-Clovis tradition art have been found at the Gault site, Texas, and some more recently at the nearby Debra L. Friedkin site.  These and the Old Vero Beach, Florida, mammoth engraving on a megafauna bone should alert us to the possibilities for palaeoart in the United States. However, they are just a small taste of what is really out there to be found.

There is a vast period from about 30,000 years before present (William Holen, Mammoth Steppe Hypothesis, Denver Museum of Nature Science to the Archaic period nearly 20,000 years later with the emergence of "peck, grind and polish" stone art modalities where there has not yet been a systemic accounting of prehistoric art in the U.S.A. The Ohio Historical Society museum at Columbus displays one Clovis spear point as its palaeoart, despite the Clovis tradition being relatively short-lived at about 500 years and with thousands of years of more subtle art not yet understood by mainstream archaeology. So far, it has been bypassed, or forsaken, in a great tragedy.

The Clovis point steals the limelight because it is immediately recognizable by our own standards and its fluted thinning and basal concavity are of unknown purpose and speculated by some to have been symbolic of something. It screams “Artifact!” when most palaeoart only whispers. What about all the art that is not sharp and pointy but which upon close examination has possible iconic or symbolic elements which don't require such far reaching speculation?

Some fraction of palaeoart in the U.S. surely could be preserved in the most lasting of all materials, stone. There are likely millions of pieces of figurative portable rock art in the U.S. and amateurs, collectors and laypersons are identifying them. The internet is allowing hyper-communication among these people as opposed to the snail's pace of a dogmatic academic community of archaeologists. Art motifs are emerging, recurring anthropomorphic "characters" are being detected, common animals and forms are depicted and what could become full art taxonomies are coming to light.

It is not that the stone palaeoart does not exist, it is that we have not known what to look for. And what we should look for does not necessarily comport with preconceived conventional ideas about what art from the Pleistocene to the Archaic in North America should look like. Because of its typical incorporation of rough or natural stone features it is even more difficult to detect in the field.

Portable rock art is being found from coast-to-coast in the U.S.A. and shares many attributes with known palaeoart from Eurasia. The Beringia land bridge was open for 200,000 of the past 500,000 years. Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Denisovans, Neanderthals and other archaic ancestors of contemporary humans in Asia at the time certainly could have crossed it in to North America. Robert Bednarik has shown humans were seafaring in South East Asia at 900,000 years ago.

The portable rock art being identified here says North America was a part of a larger connected world in times long ago, not some uniquely virgin land that was "discovered first" by any “culture” we will ever know.  North American portable rock palaeoart tells us we would do better to approach our archaeology in this world-wide context, rather than as an island which evaded humans until the last 1/200th of our human existence. Bipedalism and large brains are not to be underestimated!

By setting aside our cultural biases and conventional expectations of what prehistoric portable rock art should be like, we become better prepared to see into a broader spectrum of creative expression which was recorded in the permanence of stone.
 
The "Clovis First" dogma perpetuated by United States archaeology officialdom set back knowledge of world population diasporae and prehistoric peoples here by several decades. Let's not have the "figurative portable rock art does not exist" dogma set us back any further. The stones have far too much to tell us of our heritage and our future.

Kenneth B. Johnston
portablerockart.com

5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I have to laugh with Katie Bretsh,
      I have been also told I am seeing thing's by the locals
      and archeologists,
      People seem to be geared towared the mondern Indian,
      It is as though there is a dead line in past history, that is a cut off point,

      my reply is who made this first date of when people were in a particular place in time? none of us were there how would you know? second thing is science to be viewed with a open mind? how could we go on inventing and discovering things
      if we think we already know everything.

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  2. I am so grateful to have found your site. I find these things ALL OVER and have never been able to convince others in a serious way about them. I have even shown some of these very obviously worked stones to archeologists and been told I was imagining things. Thank you so much for putting this site up. I am in Oregon. I will start taking pictures of my finds and putting them up on Flickr.

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  3. Very grateful to you for putting this blog up. I find these stones every time I turn around. I have even shown ones that were very, very clearly worked to archeologists who told me I was imagining things. Thank you SO MUCH for doing all the work required to maintain a blog like this. I will start photographing my finds and putting them up where they can be viewed and link here. Wonderful!

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  4. Hey Ken. I visited Jimmy Groen a few months ago and he was (and has been) very helpful in my back yard late mesolithic/early neolithic finds, including the manuports that were among them. He photographed the two "faces" and I thought that he sent them to you. If not, please let me know and I will try to send them via E-mail. You are more than welcome to use these for your website! Thanks again for "introducing" me to Jimmy, as he has been most helpful with his knowledge.

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