Denisovan Ancestry in East Eurasian and Native American Populations

28 November 2011

Dennis Boggs' finds along Columbia River include artifacts and manuports featuring imagery such as this head

Found by Dennis Boggs, Boardman, Oregon

This human head in left profile view figure stone was found by Dennis Boggs, Boardman, Oregon, within 2km of the current Columbia River at Irrigon, OR.  It is 8cm x 8cm x3cm size.  For nearly 50 years, Dennis has been collecting suspected humanly worked stones from below possible cultural sites very close to the Columbia. It seems most all of the stone material at his sites has been manuported there, so it is an amazing collection of lithic material, almost a "prehistoric rock collection." For geographic context, the "Kennewick Man" skeletal remains were found about 90 km upriver from the find location of this head profile.  Dennis shipped this piece to me almost a year ago, along with many others already, and to be, seen on this blog, for me to photograph. It has somehow slipped out of my control and into my general collection of some several thousand suspected crude art and tool pieces. I will be taking time over the winter to search for it. I remember when I saw it in person, the three dimensions of the jaw line and the pinkish lips made it quite impressive. Thanks to Dennis Boggs for this photo and I'll be posting updated photos once I am able to study this manuport or artifact.


21 November 2011

A winking turkey figure stone

A winking turkey figure stone
This flint resembling a turkey head was found at a Licking County, Ohio, site which has produced a number of pieces which resemble bird heads and the heads of a few other animals.  Find by Ken Johnston, on the north shore of Buckeye Lake.  Please see the suspected Belted Kingfisher head posting just recently for another example from this site.  Additional examples of suspected flint animal heads will be introduced over time on this blog. (click photo to expand)

Turkey eye close up shows possible pigment to highlight eyelid

Photo of turkey head left profile with eye closed (wink).  This turkey was described as walking around with its eyes closed, perhaps like the subject of the figure stone.

Side two, shown with scale

A winking turkey

19 November 2011

Underwater mastodon petroglyph at Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, seems overlooked in accounting of North American Pleistocene art

Underwater mastodon petroglyph at Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, seems overlooked in accounting of American proboscidean art

This is a petroglyph on a fixed boulder currently underwater near the modern day shore of Lake Michigan at Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan. So, not an example of portable rock art but one of importance to the prehistory of human contact with megafauna in the Americas and of relevance to rock art studies in the mid-west and Great Lakes areas of the United States.  Archaeologists have speculated that it depicts a spear sticking out from the side of the animal.

Only a small number of images of proboscideans (mammoth, mastodon) are recognized in the Americas at this time.  The two primary ones have been identified in the past few years. First is "The Old Vero Beach Mammoth" studied by Dr. Barbara Purdy,, and a Utah double mammoth image studied by Ekkehart Malotki and Henry D. Wallace. The current recognition of elephant-like images is of petroglyphs only with apparently no accounting of any portable proboscidean sculptures or figurines.  This blog has already, and will in the future, introduce multiple suspected examples of proboscidean art as they are brought to my attention and verified to my satisfaction.

This petroglyphic image was made during the Pleistocene more than 13,000 years ago when lake water was tied up in the glaciers and this boulder was above ground near the former shore of Lake Michigan. It appears to show the animal's trunk in the curled drinking position, so maybe this is a recognition of a drinking spot of these awesome animals which was also a good place to spear them. It may be the species here is a mastodon because of the relative horizontal plane of the back. Columbian mammoth are usually represented with a more sloping back and a more prominent "bump" on the top of the head. This image was discovered by archaeologists doing unrelated survey research in the water near the shore.

17 November 2011

Day's Knob archaeological site in Ohio has produced a possible horse head sculpture in left profile view

A possible horse's head sculpture from Day's Knob, Guernsey County. Found by landowner and archaeologist Alan Day. Mouth, lip, eye, mane, jawline are depicted. Please see the prior posting for link to information about the Pleistocene horse in Ohio and another possible horse figure identified by Lyn Niday, Hebron, Ohio.

Day's Knob, Ohio, web site of Alan Day


15 November 2011

Pleistocene Equus head may be represented in Ohio Paleolithic portable rock art sculpture

A possible Pleistocene Equus (horse species) figure stone found by Lyn Niday, Licking County, Ohio (click photo to expand). Please notice fine artist's attention to subtleties of the chin, nose and a tiny gash for an eye.

Nov. 14, on an unusually warm 70 degree afternoon, I took my girlfriend Lyn Niday to the field find location of the artifact in the prior posting, a possible Belted Kingfisher head figure stone. As we surface hunted a small hill in a plowed field, Lyn identified a possible horse's head figurine, it caught her eye as such, and I found a squared off stone and a rare hexagonal stone in the immediate area of the horse's head, estimated 10 meters. The horse figurine appears to have multiple indicators of human stone crafting to complete the image.

Side 2 with (cm) scale.  In this view, one may see the cut of the stone in bottom left which accommodates a grip.  The removal does not impact the image on the other side of the stone.  I have wondered if many of these types of pieces were used like toy puppets.  The idea of a talking horse is not so far removed from our culture as was seen in the "Mr. Ed" television series of the 1960's.

Close up view of horse's snout area as if being held like a puppet.  There are nostril holes and an incised mouth line.

Hexagonal stone with 2 large sets of lines intersecting at 90 degree angles, starting and stopping within the frame of the artifact.  Click photo to expand.

Agriculture plows don't make sets of 90 degree lines which begin and terminate within the edges of the artifact as seen in the hexagon artifact above. Plows do make marks like those seen on this little squared off piece, unlikely to be a product of mother nature. It looks like the plow blade caught this little square piece and moved it in the soil and then caught it again in the rotation before moving away.

I have wondered if this site area, with so many little iconic stones, may have been a children's area at one time. Crude tools and lithic debitage are also prolific in the area. A horse's head like this, not likely from historical times, may indicate a Pleistocene human occupation making a recognition of horses in their environment. Equus species were present here in Ohio in Pleistocene times. They went extinct in the Pleistocene-Holocene mass extinction event and were not in the Americas until the Spanish reintroduced them in historical times.

Great find Lyn Niday!

Pleistocene Equus article:

THE OHIO JOURNAL OF SCIENCE 64(6): 423, November 1964,

The material here is a beautiful black and white striped granite.  This is a slightly pitted stone, the pit the result of pounding activity.  The pitted area takes up approximately the top 1/3 of the artifact as pictured here.  This is a hand hammer with two fins to accommodate the curvature of the hand.  It was found in the immediate context of everything else here as well as the artifact from the "Belted Kingfisher" prior posting.


12 November 2011

Was it a tool? A Belted Kingfisher figure stone? Both? Flint raises issue of pareidolia in assessing ambiguous stone artifacts

Buckeye Lake, Licking County, Ohio, flint was found in the context of several other suspected "bird head flints" near the north shore of the "post Ohio and Erie Canal" lake.

Was this flint made as a tool, a bird figure?  Or is the bird head figure I perceive a complete coincidence?  Pareidolia, or "seeing images in the clouds" is informed by the same cognitive function as our ability to make sense of our visual world.  The context of other flints resembling species-identifiable bird heads, to be posted in the future on this web site, supports the great likelihood of human intent to make figurines.

The Belted Kingfisher is still common near the find site of this flint artifact.  I drop anchor on a swampy part of Buckeye Lake to relax and take in the sights and am always pleased when a Belted Kingfisher is in view.  They don't like people and usually move quickly once your presence is known.  Being out on the water in my pontoon boat allows me a better chance to see them in action.  They dive mostly for small fish and their way of life is unique in the shallow freshwater bird world.  

The blue coloration, lighter neck band and shape of this flint prompted me to immediately think "...a Belted Kingfisher head" when I found the artifact.

I think this material is known as "Coschocton Blue" flint, lithic source perhaps 150 km from the find site.  The Belted Kingfisher is a predominantly blue creature. 

(click photos to expand)
There is a slight worked depression in the place of an "eye" in this view


07 November 2011

Ohio bird figurine similar to a Russian (Siberian) bird identified by archaeologist M.A. Kiriyak at the Bol'shoi El'gakhchan I site

(click photos to expand)
Ohio bird figurine found by Ken Johnston in an art and tool context in Licking County has similarity to a...

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

I have read archaeologists and art scholars practically lament the "absence of Paleolithic art in the Americas." The Eurocentric and preconceived approach to "art" has the expectation set at "cave paintings like Chauvet" or "Venus" female figurines like the popularized types of the European Gravettian era. Most all of the art of the Paleolithic is farther removed from our own culture and expectations than the well known art of Europe so it is more difficult to perceive in the archaeological record and takes "a new eye" of perception "outside the box" of our normal cultural and visual world. The modalities of North American Paleolithic portable rock art forms can be well informed by work done in Russia by M. A. Kiriyak. Her book "Early Art of the Northern Far East: The Stone Age" has been translated to English by Richard L. Bland of the U.S. National Park Service Shared Beringian Heritage Program in partnership with Russia. A link on the right side panel goes to a preview/purchase web site or you may contact US Government Printing Office bookstore for a copy of the book.  

Beak at left in this view.  I chose not to clean this piece any further in order to maintain some of the context soil and to preserve the "eye" for more controlled study.  The eyes of artifacts such as these may be indicated by creating a depression in the stone and adding pigment or changing the patina.  The presence of an "eye" is often a sign that someone in prehistory made or noticed the bird form and "animated them" with the addition of the eye(s).

Beak at right in this view

link to "Sir Nameless"
Earlier posting of human facial profile sculpture found within a few meters of the bird featured here.  The artificiality of the bird here, despite its seemingly crude and somewhat ambiguous form, is supported by finding a carved human face silhouette sculpture in its immediate proximity.  This is, in fact, what bird figurines of the Stone Age can sometimes look like.

2 pentagonal pitted slabs with peck marks which indicate likely use as tools were found in immediate proximity to the bird figurine featured here

Pitted grinding/pounding stones, similar to an anvil or mortar stone, found in immediate vicinity of the bird figurine

drawing from M. A. Kiriyak page 56 of the Siberian bird figurine

Beak at far left in this view

Here's the Siberian bird figurine once again for comparison to the Ohio example, seen above and below

In this photo, the "beak" of the bird is at far right and the tail is far left.  A faint image of the head of a zoomorphic figure with eye, nose and mouth is emerging from the posterior (far left) of the bird.  See the Day's Knob web site for more information on this recurrent theme in pierres-figures identified there.  The Day's Knob archaeological site, also in Ohio, is about 120km from the find site of the bird here.


02 November 2011

Sleeping Ducks

"Sleeping duck" find by Dennis Boggs, Irrigon, Oregon, Columbia River

Dennis Boggs Oregon sleeping duck sitting on a (cm) grid for scale

On the rear of duck, there is a highly worked divot which accepts a finger tip to allow one to hold the duck image in a forward-presenting, upright position like a little puppet.  Could objects like this have been toys?

Mike Ekkes find, West Virginia, photo courtesy Day's Knob web site.

Neolithic (Mesopotamian) sleeping duck motif on a weight measure stone