Denisovan Ancestry in East Eurasian and Native American Populations

06 December 2016

Standing bird sculpture from Hardin County, Tennessee

Jason Lamont find, Hardin County, Tennessee

This stone has been sculpted and stands upright on a flat base. The bird head up close seems to intentionally depict something roundish being held in the bird's beak.

Jason has suggested this piece may depict a 'bird emerging from its egg' and I think that is very possible. The bird is raptor-like with the curvature of the upper beak being quite pronounced.

Many figures in a motif of 'bird with head turned back' have been featured on this blog. They typically feature water birds like ducks with the head turned back and beak tucked to their back in a 'preening water bird' position.

This sculpture was found in a portable rock art context identified by Jason Lamont in Hardin County, Tennessee, and featured in other postings on this blog.


  1. Hi Ken and Jason...

    That's one of the better pieces to show up on this blog in some time. It would be good to know its size and material (I'd guess limestone, could be wrong.) It does seem to be in the long-recognized theme of a bird with head turned back, apparently first spotted by Ursel Benekendorff a long time ago. (And occasionally other creatures are depicted in this posture.) Jason's hatchling interpretation seems plausible too, and who knows what people were actually thinking thousands of years ago?

    It could well be that the object in the bird's beak is in the very old and common theme of one creature emerging from the mouth of another (see A close look under magnification might be worthwhile.

    Given that these figures were seldom naturalistically rendered, beyond a certain point it often seems useless to try identifying a particular species, something that can quickly put one in pareidolia mode. But while you're at it, you might consider the Carolina parakeet, now extinct but once abundant in Tennessee.

    Regards, Alan Day

  2. Hey Alan ill get you those measurements when i make it home. I travel with work and am in Kansas at the moment. As far as the material im not sure but would be glad to send you some better pictures and maybe you could tell me. Sorry for the delay in my response you and Ken are a big help and i enjoy your blogs.

  3. I've found similar objects in the NH / VT area, which leads me to speculate that this style of rock carving was not only widespread / continental in scope, but may have functioned as a unit of exchange. The interpretation of a bird emerging from its shell is spot on in my opinion, and reveals a sophisticated approach to object-making indicative of a well-developed artistic tradition. The bird becomes a metaphor for the sculptor, who has liberated this figure from the rock; we are left to wonder not about the subject of the representation but rather the inherent incompleteness of art making, the impossibility to separate form from raw material. If we are to explore this discourse further, we may find that the culture responsible for these objects was very much like our own, and conceived of art in highly poetic, theoretical terms.

  4. They are nice. I live in Henry Co. Tennessee and have literally everywhere. From humans 1 inch tall 3/8 inch wide to a bird 3 foot tall 22 inches wide 4 inches thick and weighs close to 80 lbs. 100s of tools Flint scrapers and arrowheads. I bought property 3 yrs ago and have 9 fresh water springs. Maybe Henry county and Hardin county can get together sometime to look at some of them together? My cell 7312271061.Thank u

  5. Sounds like a plan. I sent you my number Via facebook