Denisovan Ancestry in East Eurasian and Native American Populations

28 November 2014

Lion head and bison frame a bison engraving on a pebble from Grotte du Mas d'Azil, France

Pebble with an engraving of a bison.
Source: Facsimile, display, Grotte du Mas d'Azil, France

Ken Johnston interpretation of the stone as an intended lion head figure in line with other examples seen on this blog. The stone protrusion at lower left is a classic form of a feline chin as seen in other portable rock art pieces in this theme. Original photo Don Hitchcock, 2008

Ken Johnston interpretation of the outline of the stone also reflecting the shape of the bison which is framed within the stone. Original photo Don Hitchcock, 2008

This piece may reflect an expression of the predator/prey relationship observed between these animals.

There can be more than easily meets the eye to these portable rock art pieces with subtle forms we are not accustomed to in our contemporary cultures. While an interpreter may be focused on the more obvious engraving here, the entire object must be considered. The use of simple profile shapes which frame other icons is common in portable rock art. Interpretations like these can likely be made for hundreds or thousands of art artifacts in European museums which contain more information than has been recognized to date.

26 November 2014

Three mammoth sculptures from The Old Route 66 Zoo site near Joplin, Missouri

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo, site #23JP1222, 16cm

This is a mammoth and human polymorphic sculpture depicting an anthropomorphic head looking left and a mammoth right profile with its head turned looking at us. There are two eye cavities on the mammoth figure in relatively correct anatomical positions. The sculpture stands upright in this position. The motif of a human face on the posterior of mammoth sculptures have been described in a number of instances on this blog. The Old Route 66 Zoo has produced numerous mammoth sculptures.

The nose tip of the human looking left is the upper left corner of the stone here. The cavity in the stone symbolic of the mammoth's right eye is visible here.

Ken Johnston illustration of the anthropomorphic head profile with interpreted mouth and eye features.

 Two additional mammoth forms from the Old Route 66 Zoo site, both left profiles

This sculpture may be interpreted as a mammoth profile facing left combined with a bison head profile facing right. The worked aspects of the stone which depict these postulated eye features are circled in the illustration above. This sculpture has a strong similarity to one identified from Laurens County, South Carolina, by Buzzy Boles and featured earlier on this blog.

20 November 2014

Mini-tablet with incised lines forming a grid pattern along with a fan motif from the Arkfeld site, #44FK731, Clear Brook, Virginia

Arkfeld site, Clear Brook, Virginia, site #44FK731
Mini-tablet with incised lines made by use of a straight edge which form a grid pattern, 7cm. Found in context with other portable rock art incised grids by Adam Arkfeld.

In addition to the incised grid pattern the rectangular shape of the stone is noteworthy. There also appears to be a fan motif of generally radial lines. A line starts as straight but then curves along with the contour of the edge of the stone indicating a likely human judgment.

Close up of the fan motif which is still detectable on the stone.

Regarding his analysis of engraved stones in the Acheulean, John Feliks writes in his paper THE GRAPHICS OF BILZINGSLEBEN: SOPHISTICATION AND SUBTLETY IN THE MIND OF HOMO ERECTUS
"The groundwork for straight edge theory was laid out in a prior publication (Feliks 2006). The visual data offered in the original paper and this new paper is straightforward, confirmable by direct observation, and testable on the page by anyone. It clearly indicates that the engravers of the Bilzingsleben artifacts used a straight edge to facilitate creation of the many subtle radial patterns and parallels featuring perfectly straight lines. The proposal is demonstrated in this paper by direct comparison of the Bilzingsleben engraved motifs with modern standard-increment rulers, the proposed Bilzingsleben rib-bone “ratio ruler,” and by superimpositions of duplicated radial motifs.
The idea that Homo erectus could have used a straight edge had never been considered in science for one simple reason: the necessity of retaining in the evolutionary paradigm an assumed ‘cognitive half-way-there zone’ between early ape-like creatures such as Ardipithecus and modern Homo sapiens. Accepting this assumption as a central axiom, the scientific community in general has long been pre-convinced that Homo erectus was unable even to speak let alone create engravings of a quality level suggesting the work of modern draftspersons or technical designers. Prior to publication of Mania and Mania’s 1988 paper, Deliberate engravings on bone artifacts of Homo erectus, it was considered by most in archaeology that markings on Lower and Middle Palaeolithic bone artifacts were likely a by-product of nothing more intentional than scraping the bones for meat. Not surprisingly, and due to universal acceptance of the paradigm, publication of the images did not result in an immediate reversal of opinion, either. In fact, so ingrained has the “ape-man” perspective of Homo erectus been that the idea has budged very little even two decades after Mania and Mania published the engravings. The most profound effect seems to be that of a debated name change for the Bilzingsleben hominids from Homo erectus to Homo heidelbergensis. H. heidelbergensis serves as a mere buffer-zone species between H. erectus and H. sapiens and is regarded arbitrary by some researchers. Still, even if the name heidelbergensis were adopted, the switch would be a moot choice of association as the straight edge studies point to a level of technology not even attributed to Homo sapiens until 350,000 years later. 
Significance of Straight edge theory: Employing a straight edge to make either single straight lines or radial motifs is unmistakably clear evidence not only for language but for highly-evolved language and mathematical abilities. The link is the concept of analogy at two levels. At the basic level, the straight edge in and of itself is a profoundly simple analogical invention easily associated with language because a line engraved with the aid of a straight edge is directly symbolic of the straight edge itself, being a “representation” of the edge. This clearly indicates that Homo erectus understood the association between a physical object and a graphic representation of a particular quality of that object, i.e. its straightness. It is analogous in language to a spoken word or graphic symbol being used to represent an object, a person, or an idea.
On a more complex and genuinely unlimited level both philosophically and mathematically, a central thesis of this paper is that multiple straight edge-engraved lines forming “radial motifs” is a confirmation that the people of Bilzingsleben fully understood the concept of analogy or that one idea can be compared with another. Any analogy based on radial symmetry can be instantly applied to philosophical or mathematical ideas; e.g., Fig. 7.4a & b, “The Realm of Ideas,” where one portion of a radial motif can be readily compared with another portion because angles remain the same at any magnification or distance; Fig. 7.9, “Fractal Angle Symmetry,” where duplicated angles may branch off of base angles; and Figs. 7.11–7.14, where small motifs can be used to imply association with larger or even infinite motifs.
Regardless of how unlikely these claims may seem under the old paradigm view of Homo erectus, use of a straight edge to create radial motifs demonstrates that Homo erectus people not only fully understood what they were doing but were also fully determined and committed to the process of engraving similar motifs at a very high level of quality. The focus is on analogy because attainment of analogy was crucial in the development of modern human cognition as it is the means by which any knowledge may be applied to any other knowledge. This development was not a biological or evolutionary effect brought about by simple expansion or reconfiguration of the physical brain as is commonly taught in anthropology but was the result of what is better described as a “discovery” or “cognitive realization.” (These ideas are not the least bit esoteric because discovery and realization are two ways the brain functions in all creatures that possess a brain.)." (Feliks, page 74-78).

A wedge or axe identified by Adam Arkfeld with a flaked bit at the tip at left.

18 November 2014

Tablet of engraved sandstone, la Grotte du Loup, France, from the Mousterian excavation by G. Mazières

Tablet of engraved sandstone, la Grotte du Loup, from the Mousterian excavation by G. Mazières

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008 

Source: Original, display at Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies
Plaquette de grès gravée, Grotte de Loup, Cosnac, Fouille G. Mazières (collection du Musée National de Préhistoire des Eyzies)

Photo courtesy Don Hitchcock, Dons Maps

Regarding his analysis of engraved stones in the Acheulean, John Feliks writes in his paper THE GRAPHICS OF BILZINGSLEBEN: SOPHISTICATION AND SUBTLETY IN THE MIND OF HOMO ERECTUS
"By employing extensions of engraved lines and points cognitive archaeology can access the geometric mind behind and beyond the artifacts themselves. This is possible because geometric extensions make accessible an invisible field of information outside of, but within the vicinity of, any given artifact. The extent of this field is more limited in some artifacts than in others, and the further out we go from various artifacts the more speculative the interpretations may be. However, depending on what specific information we are seeking, and despite what may be presumed, this is not necessarily the case, as suggested by Fig. 7.14, “Proof of association between an abstract point and infinity.” Depending on how the lines are organized, many interpretations of a surrounding field are perfectly safe.
Once the invisible geometric qualities are discovered and mapped out one can then genuinely access the thoughts of individuals who lived hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago but who took the time to engrave a few lines. As difficult to believe as it may seem a vast amount of information that extends well beyond geometry and mathematical constructs is available that easily extends into the realms of philosophy by means of geometric equivalents or ‘cross-dimensional fractals.’ This is possible because all human cognition is based upon relationships between abstract points." (Feliks, page 82-83).
la Grotte du Loup (Wolf Cave)

16 November 2014

From the Limberg site, Beegden, Netherlands

From the Limberg site, Beegden, Netherlands
Collection of Jan van Es

The top portion of this stone may be interpreted as symbolic of the profile of a mammoth figure facing right. The mammoth may interpreted as cresting a human head, also a North American portable rock art motif seen on this blog in a number of pieces.

From the Limberg site, Beegden, Netherlands
Collection of Jan van Es

Jan van Es interprets a worked face on this stone and when turned upside-down, another face or two.

Stone turned 180 degrees

Jan van Es illustration of smaller face he interprets above the primary face in this orientation

14 November 2014

Dutch and North American mammoth forms both have remnants of eye pigment and sawtooth breaks to define the legs

Jan van Es find, Beegden, The Netherlands, interpreted as an elephant-like form in profile facing left

Ken Johnston illustration of areas of human modification to this piece

Adam Arkfeld find, Arkfeld site, #44FK732, Clear Brook, Virginia, interpreted as a mammoth-like form with pigment stained eye and sawtooth breaks to define the legs. 7cm.

Side 2 view of sawtooth stonework to define the legs of the Virginia mammoth sculpture

These two examples demonstrate how the animals were schematized into stone forms by early artists. The significant similarities here are the left profile views, the remnants of pigment applied to the stones to create eyes as well as the sawtooth breaks made to define the legs. These are very likely culturally moderated forms with consistency from north west Europe to North America.

Both the Beegden site in The Netherlands and the Arkfeld site in Virginia have produced many other figures invoking elephant/mammoth iconography so the context is strong for both of these interpretations.

12 November 2014

Report from Fayette, Mississippi, of another worked PAC-MAN like zooanthropomorphic head figure from apparently Pleistocene soils (including mastodon remains)

Dylan Fazzio of New Orleans, Louisiana, find from Fayette, Mississippi on November 8th, 2014. Measurements: 3" length, 3/4" width, 2 1/4" height. Photos courtesy of Dylan Fazzio.

Ken Johnston illustration of worked part of the stone.

This is the fifth report of this kind of figure from North American observers including one just featured last week. I have speculated in the past that these figures could be symbolic of simple hand shadow puppets where the top of the head as pictured here are the fingers and the bottom of the head, or jaw here, is the thumb, of a hand as if in a mitten.

The figure stands upright on a flat base in this position

Another conspicuous visually interesting stone with an eye-like fossil inclusion Mr. Fazzio found at Fayette, Mississippi

Jan van Es interpretation of a face and animal polymorphic figure stone exploiting a fossil inclusion, Lower Paleolithic, The Netherlands.

Mississippi stone compared to Netherlands stone

Dylan Fazzio of New Orleans writes: "The area I was walking is the bottom of a creek bed. Certain times of the year it floods out other times it's dry. New things are always being unearthed. The creek walls are about 20 ft high and the stones were only 5 to 10ft apart. My friend who lives up there found a mastodon tooth in the same area when he was around 10 years old in 1990. He made the front page of the local paper. He has a collection of fossils, Indian artifacts, pottery and petrified wood. 
His mother told me that when Jim found that tooth the old man was around 80 at the time said when he was a young man he found the skull and skeleton to the mastodon but never gave it much thought. He said years later he went back but never found anything. I will be back up in Mississippi this weekend hunting and I plan to do some more looking around. This is all new to me but very exciting I hope to find more and share them with you." 

11 November 2014

Possible bas relief image of a walking woman with a baby sling on her back

Identified as a "walking woman" image by Adam Arkfeld, Arkfeld farm site, #44FK732, Clear Brook, Virginia.

Ken Johnston illustration of the woman's face configuration detected by Arkfeld (click photos to toggle and compare illustrations to original photos)

Selected parts of the layer of black stone have been removed to leave the bas relief silhouette of a walking woman. This kind of stone work is seen in other iconic materials from the Arkfeld site.

On very close examination, there may be a faint trace of a simple representation of a child's head protruding from what appears to be a baby sling on a mother's back.

A contemporary example of the mother and child imagery interpreted in this stone.

07 November 2014

A Lower Paleolithic human head sculpture found among cleavers in the French Pyrenees

A Lower Paleolithic human head sculpture, by Homo heidelbergensis
Henri Valentie find from the French Pyrenees region

Mr. Valentie writes: "This piece comes from the massive shale Pyrenees in France. I found it in the middle of Lower Paleolithic cleavers. A beautiful left profile. 25 cm / 19.5 / 6 cm. Cordially, Henri"

Homo heidelbergensis reconstruction

The France sculpture compared to an artist's reconstruction of a Homo heidelbergensis male courtesy of Science Photo Library.

It is important to note that the neck connection to the head and the truncation of the necks into the lower right visual corner in both art images above are strikingly similar despite their being separated by at least 200,000 years of the human aesthetic.

A reconstructed model of a Homo heidelbergensis head

Human face looking forward interpreted by Henri Valentie, Île d'Oléron, France

Valentie writes (Trans. K. Johnston): "This stone was found on the foreshore island of Oleron. The mouth too is not natural. This is one of my best pieces. I felt a great emotion when I found it given the patina of the flint is very old on the worked areas of the stone." 12cm / 11cm / 8cm

Ken Johnston illustration of interpreted facial features and their worked areas. Original photo courtesy of Henri Valentie.

05 November 2014

Pleistocene glass work may be evidenced in Alabama and Ohio artifacts both found in context of "mammoth cresting human head" rock art motif

Worked slag glass, Lisa Deason find, Lee County, Alabama

As far as I can determine, there is no precedent for any historical people making micro tools like this out of glass slag.

At left is a plaque identified by Lisa Deason as a human left profile featured in a recent post. I interpreted the plaque as incorporating the form of a mammoth profile, as if the mammoth is cresting the person's head. At right is a piece from Licking County, Ohio, which was interpreted in an earlier posting as a human left facial profile also crested by the mammoth head form. Perhaps not a coincidence, worked glass slag has been found in the context of both of these art pieces.

This piece of green glass slag was confirmed as being intentionally broken off of another piece by Ohioan Chris Miller, a world ranked top flint knapper. It too is human made glass which has been further modified. Ken Johnston interpreted this piece in an earlier posting as a human head profile looking left, with a mark made in correct position to serve as the person's eye.

The anomalous slag and metal objects from Alabama, Ohio and the Arkfeld site in Virginia, found in the context of portable rock art raise questions about the possibility of bloomery technology in North America associated with Pleistocene art forms.

Lisa Deason has identified slag, a by-product of metal and glass production, on her family farm despite no known historical record of smelting at that location.

Bloomery technology may have been an element of the cultural traditions responsible for production of some portable rock art.