22 June 2017

Human and feline hybrid stone figure from Arkfeld site, Clear Brook, Virginia

Adam Arkfeld find and interpretation, Clear Brook, Virginia

Black line illustrates the implied feline 'tail.' Circle highlights the head with open mouth which seems to have more of a human quality.

Arkfeld notes the presence of a worked 'eye' shape to the left of the head and the Pharohnic Egypt use of the 'all seeing eye of Horus' and human and feline hybrid dieties like Sekhmet.

31 May 2017

New Tennessee site with portable rock art, anvils, flint and tools

Edgar Lopez finds, White House, Tennessee
My name is Edgar and I am seeking your help on some finds that I dug up while starting a garden.
I believe I may have stumbled on some ancient American Indian artifacts. I am including a link with the pictures to this email. Please email me back if you think there is a chance that I'm correct on what these artifacts are. Or, if you have another idea of what this could be, please let me know that as well. They may just be rocks or they may be something extraordinary. I have zero expertise in this area; I am grateful if you are able to help."
I informed Mr. Lopez based on my experience his intuition is correct and he has found a likely Paleolithic art and tool site.

The red mark indicates the mouth of a human head right profile. The head may also include a 'hair' representation.

The white circle indicates the face and nose of a 'bear' in right 3/4 profile. Other possible bear figures have been found by Mr. Lopez. (Click photos to expand and compare)

To the left of the bear head is a pitted area in the stone which may have been a receptacle or work area of some kind.

Human faces in Paleolithic art (R.D. Guthrie)

This figure with evidence of human modification in the eye and mouth areas is compatible with human head forms as described on a gradient by R. Dale Guthrie in his book The Nature of Paleolithic Art.

Blue marks illustrate incised lines carved on the stone face mask.

A broken anvil stone reassembled by Mr. Lopez

A broken block of flint reassembled

Rhomboid and square tablet stones typical of many Paleolithic sites in the United States are seen here in situ courtesy of Mr. Lopez.

Crude tools and utilized stones identified by Mr. Lopez

These kinds of artifacts detected by laypersons show that a formal education in Archaeology precludes one's ability to detect materials not already assumed to be present by prior knowledge. Mr. Lopez has been told by many these are 'just rocks' but we can indeed know better.

13 May 2017

A feline and human head combination figure stone from Missouri

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find
The Old Route 66 Zoo site near Joplin, Missouri

This figure depicts a right 3/4 profile perspective feline-looking head with pointed ears along with a face which resembles a grinning human. It has two eyes, a nose and a mouth in addition to the two ears.

Löwenmensch, a lion-headed figurine found in Germany, dating to the Upper Paleolithic of about 35,000 to 40,000 years ago

27 April 2017

Central Georgia landowner identifies an archaeological site with typical Paleolithic patterns of iconography and stone tools

Crude human or animal face on a cobble
The Kingpin Site, Central Georgia

Human head left profile sculpture on a plaque, with pointy head

'Eye' and 'mouth' work on the stone to sculpt a human face

Curated manuport or artifact triggers basic facial recognition reflexes

Human head with worked hair line looking to upper right. There is also work to create the eye and mouth features of the figure. Click photos to expand and toggle.

'Stone doll' from the Kingpin Site

Animal head facing left is interpreted here as a depiction of the head of the giant ground sloth. The animal's well-developed jaw for chewing is captured by the Ice Age artist. Only a few stone figures of the sloth have been featured on this blog and this is an extremely rare find. 

The worked 'eye' and 'mouth' areas of the sloth depiction are highlighted

Giant ground sloth illustration for comparison

'Sloth slayer' from central Georgia
Giant point is among the tools found with the iconic pieces at The Kingpin Site. We just don't know if an object like this was ceremonial or intended to be functional. Was it used as a spear tip or maybe an earth hoe? It seems suitable for hafting.

Tools identified from the Kingpin Site in central Georgia

A well-utilized tool from the Kingpin site

12 April 2017

Lower Paleolithic human head profile in 'yell' motif from Île d'Oléron, France

Lower Paleolithic human head left profile in 'yell' motif from Île d'Oléron, France. Henri Valentie find.

Anthropomorphic stone figures with mouths agape have been variously interpreted as yelling, laughing, crying, singing, etc.

Mouth-like stone work treatment of the stone's natural opening

This natural formation may have inspired the artist to make the 'yelling head' motif out of this stone

Limestone lamp, Henri Valentie find

I present a limestone lamp of 15/12 cm.
The black burned part is 8.5 / 7 cm.
The second part is a geode. The hole is natural.on a human head profile.
The cavity of the mouth has been enlarged by the man. The opening is 4.5cm.
The piece is 15/11 cm
These 2 stones come from the same site (lower paleo) on the island of oleron

The Île d'Oléron is now just off the France west coast but would have been part of the mainland at times when sea levels were lower with water locked up in glacial ice.
Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1671703

28 March 2017

'Animated handaxe' is hundreds of thousands of years old and has faint traces of a human face on its lower right edge as seen in many other examples

 Sahara desert, Morocco
300,000 to 1.5 million years old artifact
(click photos to expand and toggle)

'Animated handaxe' is hundreds of thousands of years old and has faint traces of a human face on its lower right edge as seen at Archaeology of Portable Rock Art blog in many other examples.

Please note the work traces to create a 'beetling brow' or prominent brow ridge above the eyes. This is a characteristic of the Homo erectus skull and face.

These artifacts of Homo erectus disprove the common wisdom of the emergence of symbolism and art in a 'creative explosion' only in Homo sapiens around 40,000 years ago.

As suggested by the Makapansgat, S.A., 'pebble of many faces' which was likely collected by Australopithecus africanus 3 million years ago, these cognitive capabilities have probably been present since the emergence of the genus Homo around 2 million years ago.

'Makapansgat pebble of many faces'

02 March 2017

'World's oldest images made from pixels' discovered in prehistoric French camp

Credit: Musée national de Préhistoire collections - photo MNP - Ph. Jugie

Scientists in France have discovered ancient pointillist engravings representing both a wild cow and a wooly mammoth. The engravings were made more than 35,000 years ago. Photo by R. Bourrillon

A drawing of the engraved stone highlights the individual pixels that make up a mammoth, or aurochs, facing right (R Bourrillon)

'World's oldest images made from pixels' discovered in prehistoric French camp
by Ian Johnston, Science reporter, The Independent.

What could be the oldest images in the world have been discovered in France.

And the engravings of mammoths and wild cows known as aurochs were made from individual pixels – essentially the same technique used to produce images on computers and televisions.

The pictures are also being compared to the pointillism technique supposedly pioneered in the 1880s by artists like Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat.

They were radiocarbon dated to 38,000 years old, which could mean they are the oldest pictures ever created.

A painted hand silhouette found in Spain could be about 5,000 years older but its dating has been contested. An ivory sculpture of a female figure from about the same period as the French engravings was also found in southern Germany.

Professor Randall White, a New York University anthropologist, told The Independent the images were certainly “among the very earliest images of things we can actually recognise in the entire archaeological record”.

“It’s not so much the final effect that we found interesting, it’s the conception of it – the use of individual points to form the body or the outline of a figure,” he said.

“If you look carefully at the aurochs, there’s really a significant control of the line.

“And this is very early when people are really just beginning to grapple with the production of images."

“They have mastered some of the fundamental aspects of line and shape, but there’s clearly a long way to go in terms of precise reproductions.”

It is unclear why prehistoric artists decided to use a pointillist or pixel-based technique.

“It’s almost digital in its nature … why this fixation on dots, I’ll admit it’s a puzzle,” Professor White said.

“It’s not exactly pointillism but the principle is there, the construction of a form out of pixels.

“We’re quite familiar with the techniques of these modern artists. But now we can confirm this form of image-making was already being practiced by Europe’s earliest human culture, the Aurignacian.”

He said they had been excavating the site for 18 months before they found the images.

“The engraving was face down and we knew within these sites such things are possible, so we were taking great care,” Professor White said.

“After a year and a half of excavating, we finally extracted the object … it is one of the great moments of my career, that’s for sure.”
The discovery was reported in the journal Quarternary International.

Laurens County, South Carolina

Buzzy Boles find, mammoth profile facing left with bison head profile looking right. The white stone at the far right is the 'muzzle' of the bovid. I think this may a representation of the Woodland Musk Ox because of what appears to be a symbolic 'downturned horn' visible in the middle lower edge as a curved and pointed feature of the stone.

North America has a similar sculptural tradition of making a combination of mammoth and bison as is also observed in several well known early European art pieces.

23 February 2017

A rhomboid plaquette from Arkfeld Site

Arkfeld Site, #44FK731, 'Rhomboid plaquette'
Clear Brook, Virginia

Adam Arkfeld has identified a recurring pattern of these diamond-shaped stones which have been sculpted using a "bend-break" or "buffer technique" to make the relatively straight sides. They have been found at several portable rock art sites and likely had some kind of symbolic significance to their Stone Age makers.

19 February 2017

Paleolithic hand puppets survive in stone from Site #23JP1222, Jasper County, Missouri

'Human face' detail on 'hand puppet'
Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo portable rock art site

I have interpreted a number of pieces on this blog as stone 'hand puppets' because they present human or animal imagery and have tapering projections which seem to be very suitable 'handles' to present the imagery. They have come from a number of locations in addition to this one. Perhaps these objects were childrens' toys, or maybe they were used as props in folkloric story-telling.

'Human head profile looking left as a hand puppet'

My illustration of an 'eye,' 'mouth with teeth' and 'handle' on this second example from Site #23JP1222. Stacy Dodd processed the image digitally and the eye and mouth may be seen in addition to two possible 'nostrils' at the 'nose.' (Click photos to expand.)