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.)

14 February 2017

Queensland portable rock art typically found at 1 to 2 meters depth

Human facial profile worked onto translucent stone material
 Rebecca Hainsworth & John Rogers finds, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Please note the attention give to the 'chin' which is a distinguishing phenotypic feature of anatomically modern humans.

Two views of the same piece of glass art found with the iconic portable rock art. Possible bird facing right in photo 1, possible creature's head looking right in photo 2.

A worked boulder 'face-mask' with missing left eye and distortion to the left side of the face in a possible example of this motif in Australia in addition to ones found in North America, Europe and South East Asia.

Animal facing right


Two sides of the same stone have worked human (robust type?) head and facial profiles, seen here facing each other. I call pieces like this 'literal bi-faces.'

Rebecca and John typically find this kind portable rock art material in the course of their excavation work at depths between 1 and 2 meters.

04 February 2017

Zoo Whooo! A paleolithic owl sculpture from Missouri

Owl portable rock art sculpture

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo mega portable rock site producing dozens of figure stones and sculptures. Site #23JP1222, Jasper County, Missouri

This is a classic North American Paleolithic bird sculpture but this art has not been acknowledged, recognized or studied by Archaeology officialdom despite its potential to provide far more cultural information than studying tool sets alone.

30 January 2017

Mammoth, feine and human combination standing sculpture from Missouri

Stacy Dodd and Rod Weber find, The Old Route 66 Zoo, Site #23JP1222 near Joplin, Missouri

Interpreted features on the rock which invoked the mammoth imagery for the artist and audience: Head bump and back hump typical of the mammoth, symbolic eye, ear and tusk, intentional separation of the two front legs by an incised line.

 I interpret a feline face at the base of the mammoth's right front leg

Close-up of the feline face with illustration of the stone features. The cat's muzzle is made in "martini glass form," the same simple line drawing used today.

I interpret a human-like face carving on the 'hump' of the mammoth's back.

A carving on the sculpture of a quasi-human face in the art motif of 'human at posterior of mammoth" which has been well-documented in North America on this blog.
Sharing the world with mammoths, cave lions and other beings: linking animal-human interactions and the Aurignacian “belief world”
This paper outlines a “symbolic ecology” for the Aurignacian of Central and Southwestern Germany. Drawing upon data derived from cultural anthropology, psychology and zoobiology, we compare the sociocultural modalities of “managing” the recurrent theme of the mammoth and the cave lion with the encounter and interaction conditions underlying these two specific animal-human relations in the glacial landscapes of the European Early Upper Palaeolithic. We propose that being-in-the-world as highly mobile hunter-gatherers living in open and densely populated “animal-landscapes” strongly promotes non-Cartesian understandings of the animal-human interface, ultimately favouring notions of co-habitation, proximity and social intimacy. By reviewing key aspects of mammoth and cave lion ethology and socioecology, we point out the natural significance and relevance of these animals for human forager groups operating in the same environments. Moreover, we argue that this “natural significance” is directly reflected in the archaeological signature of the Central and Southwestern German Aurignacian that assigns these creatures a pre-eminent place in its material culture repertoire – for instance in craftsmanship, subsistence and settlement organisation and thus in areas deeply anchored in every-day practice. Although there is a clear convergence between the natural prominence of these animals and their sociocultural salience, different eco-behavioural profiles of mammoth and cave lion seem to have motivated varying modalities to engage with them materially. This, in turn, suggests different trajectories of constructing the animal-human interface and therefore a different “status” of both animals in the wider “Glaubenswelt” (belief world) of Aurignacian regional communities. The deep entrenchment of both animals in the sociocultural world as well as the rather unique interaction conditions they offer to human co-dwellers point to the social importance of mammoths and cave lions and thus to animistic and essentially relational ontologies. This, finally, demonstrates the blurring of the Cartesian boundary between animal and human domains and intro-duces the possibility of pondering aspects of “animal-personhood” in this part of the Aurignacian world. We conclude our survey by discussing some critical implications that arise when reading the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition from the perspective of animal-human interactions and the entanglement of ontologies and material signatures.