Denisovan Ancestry in East Eurasian and Native American Populations

25 January 2012

"Sculptured Anthropoid Ape Heads found in or near the Valley of the John Day River, a tributary of the Columbia River, Oregon." By James Terry. (New York, 1891.)

More about a 6 inch gorilla head from the Columbia River valley, Oregon, from Dennis Boggs collection. The gorilla has taken a beating (directed percussion) to the right forehead. It is a part of a complex polymorphic sculpture depicting several animals.

"Sculptured Anthropoid Ape Heads found in or near the Valley of the John Day River, a tributary of the Columbia River, Oregon." By James Terry. (New York, 1891.)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A note printed on page 396 of the Nature issue of 26 February 1891. Wallace's comments here seem straightforward enough, but it is interesting to note that Terry's report represents one of the first sources of information to emerge that later bore on the ongoing Sasquatch debate. To link directly to this page, connect with:

Mr. James Terry has just published descriptions and photographs of some of the most remarkable works of prehistoric man yet discovered on the American continent. The title of his paper is sufficiently startling, but it is fully borne out by the beautiful full-size and half-size photographic prints with which it is illustrated. They represent three rude, yet bold, characteristic, and even life-like sculptures of simian heads, executed in basalt. One of these belongs to the author, one to Mr. T. Condon, and the third to Prof. O. C. Marsh, who referred to it, in his address "On Vertebrate Life in America," in the following terms:--"On the Columbia River I have found evidence of the former existence of inhabitants much superior to the Indians at present there, and of which no tradition remains. Among many stone carvings which I saw, there were a number of heads which so strongly resembled those of apes that the likeness at once suggests itself. Whence came these sculptures and by whom were they made?" Unfortunately we have no detailed information as to the conditions under which these specimens were found, except that "they would be classed as 'surface finds,' from the fact that the shifting sand-dunes, which were largely utilized for burial purposes, are continually bringing them to the surface and exposing them." This gives no indication of their antiquity, but is quite compatible with any age which their other characteristics may suggest.

The size of the heads varies from eight to ten inches in total height, and from five and three-quarters to six and a half inches in width. The three are so different from each other that they appear to represent three distinct animals; and, so far as I can judge, they all differ considerably from the heads of any known anthropoid apes. In particular, the nostrils are much farther from the eyes and much nearer to the mouth than in any of the apes. In this respect they are more human; yet the general form of the head and face, the low and strongly-ridged forehead, and the ridges on the head and cheeks seem to point to a very low type of anthropoid. In a letter to Mr. Terry, Mr. Condon suggests "that they were copied from the figure-head of some Malay proa that may have been wrecked on the coast;" but such a supposition is quite inadmissible, since nothing at all resembling these heads is ever carved on Malay proas, and there is no reason to believe that if such a carving did come into the possession of the natives they would ever think of copying it in stone; while these sculptures were found two hundred miles from the coast on the east side of the Cascade Mountains.

Taking into consideration the enormous antiquity of the stone mortars and human remains found in the auriferous gravels of California buried under ancient lava streams and associated with a flora and fauna altogether different from that of any part of America at the present time, Mr. Terry's own conclusion appears the more probable. It is, "either that the animals which these carvings represent once existed in the Columbia valley, or that, in the remote past, a migration of natives from some region containing these monkeys reached this valley, and left one of the vivid impressions of their former surroundings in these imperishable sculptures." The latter alternative appears to me, for many reasons, to be highly improbable; and though the former will seem to many persons to be still more improbable, I am inclined provisionally to accept it.

Note Appearing in the Original Work
1. "Sculptured Anthropoid Ape Heads found in or near the Valley of the John Day River, a tributary of the Columbia River, Oregon." By James Terry. (New York, 1891.)

Here is a link to the web site of Ursel Benekendorff of Germany for examples of Pleistocene ape head sculptures from her large collection of them. Just choose to translate to your language using your browser if needed.

Dennis Boggs of Boardman noticed this piece of worked chalcedony resembled a gorilla on all fours where the rump and left leg may be seen on the right side of the photo above.

Within about a one square centimeter area on the figure stone from the top photo, Ken Johnston detected two human faces separated by a diagonal line.  The art modality of these faces is unknown to archaeological science and this artifact should be of interest to anyone interested in the possibility of micro-art going largely undetected and unstudied by the archaeological establishment.  The faces confirm Dennis observation because it was likely noticed to resemble a gorilla in prehistory and then these faces were added by a highly skilled artisan.  The etching almost appears to be chemical in nature.  The top photo of the artifact includes the faces so click to expand it and see them without the yellow lines in the bottom photo. 

More on Dennis Bogg's gorilla figure stone with micro-art faces


23 January 2012

Dennis Boggs of Oregon has identified pattern of Simian-looking faces on pebbles and pebble artifacts in the Columbia River valley

Dennis Boggs of Oregon has identified a pattern of simian-looking faces on pebbles and pebble artifacts in the Columbia River valley

Manuports and artifacts resembling ape faces are found in concentration below the higher elevations along the Columbia River near Irrigon, Oregon, according to Dennis Boggs. (You may perform a site search on "Boggs" to see additional posts of objects found by Dennis Boggs.)  Face-looking pebbles may be found almost anywhere, but the concentrations and types Dennis has collected over almost 50 years suggest more than natural coincidence. 

This is the back side of the face view.  Many of the face-looking pebbles have a divot on the back, as seen in the center of the pebble in this view, which facilitates stabilized handling with the fingers. 

Pebble shown with scale.  It appears there could have work on the eyes and nose and the divot on the rear, but I do not have the microscopic expertise to evaluate this.  The mouth line appears all natural and not altered.


17 January 2012

Flint Ridge Ohio "human head inside lion head" possible sculpture was not recognized as such before its destruction for lapidary purposes

Flint Ridge Ohio lion/human head sculpture was not recognized before its destruction for lapidary purpose (click photo to expand view)

This beautiful multi-colored flint piece weighing an estimated several pounds was recognized by Ken Johnston as possibly being an example of a lion head sculpture framing the outline of a human head where the lion and the human share the same "eye" or "eye spot" on the sculpture. This piece was photographed by Roy Miller, arguably the greatest living flintknapper in the world. It was found on his property at Flint Ridge and was offered for sale by Mr. Miller to someone who used the flint material for modern lapidary purposes.

It seems a Paleolithic artist may have recognized the creamy white flint band as a potential "lion Mouth" and worked the overall head shape around it. The human head was then created by removing layers of different colored material in the flint to highlight other natural features of the stone. Unfortunately, it was destroyed before it could be evaluated as a possible art piece.  The presence of what appears to be the now-extinct North American lion implies a Paleolithic (Pleistocene) age for the sculpture

Ken Johnston has marked up and labeled the photo to illustrate his interpretation of this piece as a Lion/human head sculpture. Special thanks to Roy Miller for allowing me to use his photograph.

This and other examples show the combined lion head and human head theme may be found in the Americas just as it is found in Europe on examples such as the Kempen stone face.


15 January 2012

Iconicity present in additional objects from the context of the Belgian Kempen stone face (dated 450,000 to 300,000 years before present)

Iconicity present in additional objects from same context as the Belgian Kempen stone face (450,000 to 300,000 BP)

The discovering archaeologist, Jimmy Groen, who is a stone technology specialist, indicates the eye concavities are natural features of this stone.  The overall shape of the piece may indeed have been worked to make the final head shape and provide a sharp working edge.  Please see the immediate 3 prior postings for more information about the Kempen stone face artifact from this same context.

Another view of the same object with "iconicity."  In his 2011 book, "The Human Condition," rock art scholar Robert G. Bednarik writes "Iconicity is the property of a marking or shape that provides visual information recognized by most contemporary humans as resembling the form of an object (pp 58)"

A second view of the object with "iconicity," mouth and eye chipping evident

Not so much iconicity here for most people.  In this view, most people do not perceive anything which triggers our human facial recognition facilities easily.  So this view then "fails" the definition for iconicity. To my eye as a student of portable rock art, I can detect what appear to be two worked eyes and a broad smile which I highlight in the below illustration.

Ken Johnston has marked up the original photo to highlight a quasi-anthropomorphic face which may be interpreted from this view of the object.


13 January 2012

"Lion present at birth from egg," may be a Low Paleolithic art motif on the Kempen stone face and already described from North America

"Lion present at birth from egg," may be a Low Paleolithic art motif on Kempen stone face as already described from America

The Belgian Kempen stone face was discovered in situ in August 2011 by archaeologist L. Jimmy Groen. Please see the immediate two prior postings for more on the Kempen stone face, including unaltered photos.

A lion head in right profile is highlighted in orange, using now faint markings seen on the stone. The lion's chin is also the left chin of the kitten.

I have noticed a similarity between a visage on the Kempen stone face where a kitten is emerging from an egg into the mouth of a feline (lion) and a visage from an ellipse-shaped shone with incised lines, where one may see a bird emerging from an egg into the mouth of a lion. The Kempen stone face is from Belguim and the ellipse sculpture was found in the Columbia River valley, Oregon, by Mr. Dennis Boggs.

The Kempen stone face is dated 400,000 to 300,000 years before present. It is important to note this possible motif may be a component of the Lower Paleolithic art tradition of a people who were connected from North West Europe to Oregon, U.S.A., perhaps by Beringia. With two examples of this motif available to this one archaeological investigator, my hunch is there are many more examples of this yet to be identified. The very subtle ("almost invisible" according to Alan Day) nature of these intended images to our modern eyes makes it so difficult to detect, so it is and has been routinely overlooked in existing archaeological inventories and at active sites world wide.

It is important to note the bird and kitten emerging from the eggs in the two respective art sculptures may also be seen to comprise or compose part of the mouth of the lion.

Here are links to the earlier posting about the Golden Composite Ellipse with Branching Incised Lines, artifact found by Dennis Boggs, Irrigon, Oregon, and later interpreted by Ken Johnston in 2011.  In this photo illustration by Ken Johnston, the purple lion has the yellow bird at its mouth as emerging from the white egg while being fed from the beak of a light blue mother bird.


05 January 2012

The Kempen Stone Face: human and animal images on a Lower Palaeolithic tool from Belgium are an earliest example of complex symbolic art

NEWS from
Contact Ken Johnston,

The Kempen Stone Face: human and animal images on a Lower Palaeolithic tool from Belgium are an earliest example of complex symbolic art

The discovery of a tool also having a human facial profile was announced December 26, 2011 on by archaeologist L. Jimmy Groen of The Netherlands and Kenneth B. Johnston of The United States.  Groen is a professional field archaeologist who recovered the artifact in situ in August, 2011, along with hundreds of pebble tool artifacts in the Kempen region of Belgium.  Groen dates the artifacts at 450,000 to 300,000 before present.  Groen noticed a human facial image resulting from work on the stone and brought the artifact to the attention of Johnston, who studies and collects prehistoric portable rock art. 

Johnston has now recognized the "Kempen Stone Face" as a familiar sculpture type of the Low Palaeolithic period already documented and described by Jan van Es of The Netherlands.  Johnston also detected additional subtle imagery on the stone which may depict a rabbit, an egg with a crack and a lion with a kitten. 

“This artifact is significant because it is datable and there is little room for controversy over the artificiality of the piece or the surety of intent of the prehistoric artist to express certain motifs in a stone sculpture,” says Johnston.  “In addition to already described Low Palaeo motifs, there are other images which appear intentionally depicted in the stone.  It was found amongst tools, in situ, and is evidenced as having been used as a side scraper itself.  From what I can determine, the Kempen Stone Face is one of the most complex pieces of art attributable to the Low Palaeo period.  It might be thought of as an elaborately decorated tool.”

According to Johnston, the sculpture represents a human head with face in left profile and a feline head, presumably lion, in right profile, both joined at the back of the head and looking away in opposite directions.  Thus, the head has a human face and a lion face.  “It’s what one would call a ‘polymorphic sculpture’ because it incorporates multiple creatures into the one piece” says Johnston.

“Roughly contemporaneous possible art pieces like the Venus of Berekhat Ram (Isreal, 230,000 BP minimum) and the Venus of Tan-Tan (Morocco, 300,000 to 500,000 BP) are notable for their simple likeness to human body shapes. The Kempen Stone Face has a real palpable human facial image, with mouth agape, and a more subtle lion face comprised partially of faded markings. Because humans and lions don’t really share heads, this piece may be thought of as quite symbolic.  The Berekhat Ram and Tan-Tan figures seem to be representative of real things, reflections of life-figures, rather than a composition of seemingly interrelated real and non-real creatures as are found in the Kempen Stone Face  polymorphic sculpture.”

"From Face to Venus" drawing by Jan van Es predictively illustrated the art motif Johnston detected on the Kempen Stone Face
The two known motifs Johnston detected in the Kempen Stone face have been described by Jan van Es of The Netherlands.  Van Es is an artist and amateur archaeologist with forty years experience collecting and studying Palaeolithic art.  First, van Es describes a motif as “From face to Venus” where the profile outline of a human face may also be interpreted as the profile outline of a corpulent feminine form.  So the same shape can alternate between a face outline and female figure outline, depending on how one focuses visual attention on it.  Van Es has made a drawing available at his web site in which he creates a kind of composite drawing of the ideal “from face to Venus” form.  It is made available here for comparison to the Kempen Stone Face artifact.  

Also available is a Homo heidelbergensis skull side profile to compare the sculpture outline to the skull profile form, especially the brow ridge.

Van Es has made a comparison of a Low Palaeolithic “Venus” figurine (at left in photos above) he discovered in The Netherlands, compared to the famous Venus of Willendorf from the Upper Paleolithic, <40,000 before present.  These artifacts are separated by hundreds of thousands of years according to van Es, but their proportional and morphological similarities are quite remarkable, such as possible head hair details on the older sculpture. 

Second, van Es describes the prominence and importance given to the “egg shape” in the Paleoart he has studied. Van Es writes, “During all those years of research I noticed that, besides all forms nature offers in rocks, trees, fruit, animals etc., the egg-shaped rocks were considered as the most ideal kind. The big cosmic egg, the germinal force and origin of life, seems to have been a very important notion and turns out to be a main line in the images.”

The Low Palaeo figure features this egg shape at the chin, as if being dropped by the mouth of the face/ or the vulva of the female figure.  Perhaps by the time of the Upper Paleolithic Willendorf example the “cosmic egg” was more explicitly expressed by the large belly of the woman.  The same egg shape may be seen comprising the chin of the Kempen Stone Face.

Ken Johnston illustrates the graphic images detected on the Kempen Stone Face

The entire surface of the Kempen Stone Face, 12cm tall plaque, is utilized as part of a series of interwoven images, somewhat like the graphic image nesting affect of the Hidden Pictures game feature in the American magazine “Highlights for Children.”  “Can you find the kitten emerging from the egg?” asks Johnston.  Johnston describes the relevant graphic features he has detected on the artifact as:

1) Face to Venus motif on left edge profile
2) Egg motif, chin of human is also an egg, compare oval shape to computer generated oval egg
3) Rabbit head, with nose and eyes features at crest of head facing left 
4) Egg is “cracked” open by a quartz vein running from the bottom of the chin to the crest of the head and defining the center of the human face
5) Kitten emerging from egg looking at viewer face-on
6) Lion upper face comprised of stone cortex.  Lion mouth line and lower jaw defined by stone removal (not part of cortex surface). Lion “tooth” covered by skin, foretelling of actor Bert Lahr’s costume in The Wizard of Oz.  The tooth is implied by the skin flap.
7) Lion nose and eye were made of now faded markings, highlighted in the illustration
8) Kitten held in mouth of mother lion as it emerges from the egg, lion’s tooth space is also space between kitten’s ears.  The kitten’s chin is also the shared chin of the mother cat.

"It seems possible the quartz vein was recognized by the artifact maker and deemed to be potentially symbolic of a crack in an egg which led to the egg form" Johnston says.

“John Feliks has demonstrated the intelligence and creativity of humans from this era was certainly on par with ours today in his falsifiable geometric proof studies in his paper ‘The Graphics of Bilzingsleben.’  In addition to the geometric prowess of these early humans, the Kempen Stone Face polymorphic sculpture now places complex figurative and symbolic art squarely in the hands and minds of people living 300,000 to 450,000 years ago” Johnston emphasizes.

“I think most all of the world’s missing art history remains to be found on stone pebbles and plaquettes and the like.  We’ve got to closely examine all the lithic material from archaeological sites or we may be overlooking most of the information available to us about these early people.  Astute archaeologists like Jimmy Groen can be rewarded for sharing their finds with amateurs, who may be able to bring some unique observations and knowledge to the table for consideration.”