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    Paleolithic Rock Art Samples

    Hello! I would like to post some samples of Paleolithic rock art on this site frequently to share this mostly unknown art form and to gather impressions, opinions and whatever input anyone would like to share. I am currently involved in a project aimed at public awareness of its existence. It is quite different from many art forms and was intended to be viewed in the hand from many angles with a single light source. It is greatly dependant on shading which it always was but due to thousands of years of exposure as well as other patination processes, some is not easily seen and even more difficult to capture in 2 D imagery. It is very important to view it in its actual size. I have no knowledge of how to manage the size here (help?) so you will likely have to reduce the window. We have many examples to share and all input will be greatly appreciated. These pics are from one example and my posts will generally contain pics from single artifacts. Sometimes it can take many pictures to capture the amount of imagery on one stone. I am not a photographer so please forgive that part and hopefully it will improve as things progress. Advice would certainly be appreciated as well. Thanks!
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  3. #2
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    What do you mean? You mean someone carved this in the stone age?

    What does it mean? Sorry, I'm a simple man, and I don't know what I'm looking at.

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    I'm interested are these made by humans or by nature too but have you heard pareidolia before http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/20...apophenia.html maybe that explains it why you see different things from different angle

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    In what way is that "Paleolithic rock art"?
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    JoeCowan - Reduce the size and look at it close to its actual size. There is a very common motif called left eye missing or left eye damage. This is an abstract human face with a slash through the left eye location. There is the element of spirituality added. A bird on the left side of the face feeding from a man's outstretched hand and arm/top lip of face as it lights on a branch/bottom lip of face. as we continue through the rotation there is a realistic eye about the center and the now right edge of the stone represents the nose with nostril at the bottom. as we progress the rotation there is a slash through the left eye location again. This motif is repeated again in one more location on the back side as well.
    All of this art is best viewed actual size. I will do collage pics to help with keeping them sized smaller. The next pics I post will be a little more straightforward too. This piece is not very indicative of most of their art and is, in fact, a rather special piece because of the element of spirituality. Let me know if it is easier to see when reduced if you would. Thanks for the input.
    Last edited by Paleolithic; 1 Week Ago at 04:31 AM.

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    modi123 - It is not just art it is also a tool. Reduce the size to as close to actual size as possible and it may make more sense. I describe the scene in my last reply. I will post collage type pics in the future to help the size issues.
    Last edited by Paleolithic; 1 Week Ago at 04:32 AM.

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    In this pic look for facial imagery. Thanks.
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    stonec - 1st pic: This one is definitely man-made and it is also a tool. This particular artwork is not indicative of the larger percentage. And does not have multiple sets of imagery at different viewing angle. I am familiar with pareidolia, which is nearly a prerequisite for understanding modern art and paleo art as well. Reduce the images as they are best viewed in their actual size. Those with multiple sets of imagery are defined by shading. They incorporate the use of stair-stepped lines which are only shaded in one horizontal position so that when inverted 180 degrees they are not seen which provides a blank canvas so to speak. It is a very complex system. As I post more pics you may note a lot of the angles on the face being at 45 and 90 degrees and often appear as a crosshatch pattern extending all the way across with the intersect points resembling Xs or asterisks. These lines are for alignment of the direction of light and view as well as creating a pixel type grid which can be multiplied or divided by variables of twos. The artworks are often applied to tools often multi-tools. All of this came about because of the need for portability. They did as humans do and made the best of their abilities of shallow engraving, etching, and carving a hardstone medium. These are their contributions to humanity as well as their legacies and they deserve to be recognized for the amazing works which some of them clearly are. Hopefully, my replies and posts won't take forever and day to show up here because it would be much more efficient for interacting with you. Thanks for the interest and input, it's greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by Paleolithic; 1 Week Ago at 04:29 AM.

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    There have been some references and comparisons made to oblique anamorphic. Sometimes I do see the similarities myself.

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    Paleolithic Artists Contributions to Humanity

    I would like to thank everyone who viewed my last post but my replies have not yet posted so I'm going to start another thread starting with the same sample from my last thread and hopefully clear up some of your questions.
    This artifact is one of the most common tools found. It has very special artwork applied to it though. One of the more common motifs found in this art form is called left eye missing or left eye damage. This stone has the same motif repeated three times, two of which can be seen here through a gradual rotation beginning with the bottom left pic. This is an abstract of a human face with a slash through the left eye location. A slightly raised stream is seen coming from the vacated left eye position flowing towards the corner of the nose. The element of spirituality has been expressed with a bird in the left cheek position feeding from an outstretched hand with the arm representing the top lip of the abstract human face. Its feet are lighting on a branch which is the bottom lip of the face with the raised stream appearing as the leading edge of its far wing in the upper left pic. As we rotate to upper right pic there is a more realistic representation of a human's right eye in about the center and the nose is represented by the now right edge of the stone with a nostril at the bottom. Finally, in the bottom right pic we see that just past the nose is another slash passing through the left eye location. This left eye missing motif appears once again on the bottom of the stone but is a bit less legible due to erosion. A special artwork which not only expresses man's spirituality but attests to early man's capacity for abstract thought.
    These works are not only the legacies of our ancient ancestors but their contributions to humanity as well. I intend to share many of these great artworks right here. Please leave whatever feedback you have to offer as it will be greatly appreciated.
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    I'm sorry but I'm still not seeing it. Could you do a paintover or something to help us idiots?
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    Quote Originally Posted by octopuscats View Post
    I'm sorry but I'm still not seeing it. Could you do a paintover or something to help us idiots?
    The slash past the second nose doesn't show here but it does in the first set of pics. Do you see it? Do you see the facial imagery in the other pics? Top left and bottom left pics all along the top edge to start. Better in smaller pic. You're no idiot, it is abstract and perception tends to take a bit to develop. Thanks for checking it out. Chart bellow
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    Eyes = blue
    bird = yellow
    lips = green
    nostril = purple

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    Quote Originally Posted by octopuscats View Post
    I'm sorry but I'm still not seeing it. Could you do a paintover or something to help us idiots?
    Seldom is anything exclusive of itself in this art form. I still have no idea what the abstract nose may represent.
    Often there are faces within faces. A face for an eye or front facing and left and right facing profiles sharing a pair of eyes. Often the entire piece is a head with facial features and I don't notice till I see a thumbnail pic. Often layered with 3 or 4 different sizes of facial images. A Native American collaborator suggests largest speaks first and progresses on down. It's truly not fair to the artists to present these outside of the conditions, rules, and abilities in which they were created. A world without magnification or 2D reproduction where these were meant to be viewed in the hand is a bit different than here where we are so dependant on both. No amount or quality of photographs could ever relay what only the retinas can ascertain. The ones that are dependant on shading to define the lines never come close to how they appear to the naked eye. This and size control presents a serious challenge.

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    I'm not seeing it either, or the reason for why one would think those are deliberate sculptures.
    If you're curious about more accurate tactile viewing experience consider 123d catch or similar 3d composite imaging software; it's like a 3d scanner where you take a series of photos of a thing from dozens to hundreds of different angles. The software helps combine them into a 3d mesh/representation of the thing. Then you upload the mesh to virtual reality/parallax viewing devices where people could perceive it and "handle" it more than they could with static 2d images.

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    I am aware that there are ways of telling whether dents and chips in rocks are done by nature, or by hand. However, it wouldn't necessarily make them sculptures either way. In my opinion these look as much like human faces as every rock does to me. I don't intend to insult you, but how can we be sure your imagination isn't finding forms in the rock just like it does in the meaningless sea of shapes of the clouds, or in a fire?

    It is common knowledge that humans interpret any two dots with a shape beneath them as a face. for example: :-)



    Also, even assuming this is a carved rock. What makes this art? Just because a person manipulated an object?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeCowan View Post
    I am aware that there are ways of telling whether dents and chips in rocks are done by nature, or by hand. However, it wouldn't necessarily make them sculptures either way. In my opinion, these look as much like human faces as every rock does to me. I don't intend to insult you, but how can we be sure your imagination isn't finding forms in the rock just like it does in the meaningless sea of shapes of the clouds, or in a fire?

    It is common knowledge that humans interpret any two dots with a shape beneath them as a face. for example: :-)



    Also, even assuming this is a carved rock. What makes this art? Just because a person manipulated an object?
    In my case, it is a developed perception and the knowledge of patination processes of a broad range of stone. Certainly, it begins with matching archaeological criteria which is actually a bit ridiculous. How does one stipulate criteria for the unknown? We have been considering InfernoKing's suggestion already. It would definitely help you to see how the functionality was imparted with percussion strikes as well as consideration of the entire surface of the stone. The radical difference here being the abstract face. This :-) is not simply two dots with a shape beneath it and a motif called left eye missing would not really qualify either. To say something is pareidolic is not to say that it is definitely not art. Is it not also well known that it is the purposeful intent of many artists to induce pareidolia? If a two-year-old draws a chalk smiley face on the sidewalk we all assume man's involvement. What makes this art is the expression and the capacity for abstract thought of its creator. Is a child's hand traced representation of a turkey which graces the refrigerator door, not art? What makes modern masterpieces such as The Black Square or Orange Red Yellow art? Is it the fact that you were told about human involvement? If you are doubting my own discernment that's certainly understandable and evident of your intelligence. If I were wearing a white lab coat and safety glasses would that improve my credibility or the artistic intent on the stone? Art is subjective is it not? I'm certain if you had studied as much of this unknown art form as I have you would come to the same conclusion and likely the appreciation of it too.

    At the most basic level, how does our vision work? It is merely light which is reflected from a given surface or surfaces which we see. So how are we able to perceive contour and relief? For clarity of understanding, I use a monochromatic surface as an example. It is only shading which allows us to see contour and relief. The first piece is not indicative of the larger percentage of these artworks, however. Understanding the concepts of visual perception helps us to assess the second piece which falls into the range of the monochromatic category. Therefore if you do see facial imagery including half and three-quarter profiles you may be assured that each associated feature is in relief as it is only shading which defines it. Coincidence could come into play but once again it is experience and developed perception which tells me that I have seen enough similar patterns on stones of such a wide variety of structural compositions and hardnesses that natural forces can likely be ruled out.

    If you are looking for proof I can tell you that there is no such thing in theoretical science, there is only evidence such as I have presented. We cannot apply only what is already known and expect to learn anything from it. Although one may gather knowledge from a book it would be a safe bet to assume that it was reasoning which obtained it in the first place. Often a framed parchment gracing one's wall may only signify an entire head full of flawed and incomplete hand-me-down information, wouldn't you agree? Do the aforementioned modern masterpieces show signs of being worked? Does an archaeological degree automatically cover other disciplines such as art and psychology? Of course not but they make no bones about misrepresenting the experts from those other disciplines on a daily basis. How could we ever hope to gain knowledge by applying only what is already known? In my estimation, this would be much the same as saying that a thing's existence is entirely dependent upon prior knowledge. You said as much as every rock, does this mean you have knowledge that every rock was not altered by man or is that truly just an assumption?

    Those were good questions and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to provide a better explanation. Relying on one's own discernment is a pretty good indicator of intelligence. The reason I post these examples here is that they have little if anything to do with archaeology and everything to do with art and humanity. Are we to reject the contributions of fellow humans on the basis that their artworks don't qualify as known stone tools? Archaeology is neither art nor psychology and to be quite honest, to call it science would be no less a stretch.

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    *shrug* Okely dokely. I don't buy it, but I doubt I am the intended audience you are trying to sell it to.
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    Name:  limestoneart.jpg
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Size:  125.4 KB Okay well since you put it like that... I have here a piece of genuine Iowan limestone that I found. When I hold it like this it looks exactly like the profile of some kind of ape to me. What do you think?



    "Are we to reject the contributions of fellow humans on the basis that their artworks don't qualify as known stone tools?"
    My friend, I reject artistic contributions from my fellow humans on a daily basis. There was a crudely drawn piece of anatomy on a bathroom stall the other day. Would you have me frame it?

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    @JoeCowan - Dude, that's an arrow head, or spear tip, and you know it! Quick holding out on the good weapons!
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    I'm not inherently against rejecting things that can't be scientifically proven or documented. My thesis project was about Ojibwe art/culture, much of which is only "documented" through oral tradition. I get the need to break away from the rigidity of Western scientific standards.

    That being said, if you can't even prove this was done through deliberate marking as opposed to things just happening to break through erosion/tool use...it's hard to see where you're coming from.
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    It's just a rock, dude.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeCowan View Post
    Name:  limestoneart.jpg
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Size:  125.4 KB Okay well since you put it like that... I have here a piece of genuine Iowan limestone that I found. When I hold it like this it looks exactly like the profile of some kind of ape to me. What do you think?



    "Are we to reject the contributions of fellow humans on the basis that their artworks don't qualify as known stone tools?"
    My friend, I reject artistic contributions from my fellow humans on a daily basis. There was a crudely drawn piece of anatomy on a bathroom stall the other day. Would you have me frame it?
    That stone looks suspicious and I would definitely take a closer look if I had found it. The tools paleo humans used don't really conform to our modern perception of form and function. They only conform to functionality and ergonomics for use. In this case, I would first suspect that the notch in the top left corner was a functional gut hook style cutter with a flat spot for index finger on the opposite edge (inverted from current position) which is very common. If that were the case I would also suspect that one of the larger corners would have three sides and three edges with ergonomics to be used as an awl and last but not least a slitter which would likely be the left edge. However, it would be impossible to determine that from a 2D image and without holding it to confirm ergonomic adherence and wear patterns. The case would certainly be supported by the facial likeness as this is just simply what they did. The tool I've just described is found in abundance anywhere paleo humans inhabited across North America. Iowa would definitely be one of those locations.

    As for the bathroom sketches, graffiti. Graffiti is an issue I face quite frequently as it is often placed over what is not recognized and already there. This is one example of that...

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    Last edited by Paleolithic; 1 Week Ago at 06:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by octopuscats View Post
    I'm not inherently against rejecting things that can't be scientifically proven or documented. My thesis project was about Ojibwe art/culture, much of which is only "documented" through oral tradition. I get the need to break away from the rigidity of Western scientific standards.

    That being said, if you can't even prove this was done through deliberate marking as opposed to things just happening to break through erosion/tool use...it's hard to see where you're coming from.
    As far as the first piece, it would certainly pass archaeological criteria but the second would only pass the criteria of common sense. I do appreciate your feedback at any rate. The reason I am certain is experience along with a certain knowledge that is rather exclusive at this point. I'm still on the fence about releasing it in this sort of venue. My colleagues are uneasy about what I'm doing now but as far as I'm concerned feedback from the arts community is rather invaluable to the process. Be sure to check out future posts. You never know what I might leak here. I'm not very familiar with the Ojibwe but I'm certainly going to check it out. I have studied Inuit transformation sculpture a bit as I find it useful to the comprehension of ancient art and belief systems due to the fact it is still being produced. Thanks for the input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattyT View Post
    It's just a rock, dude.
    Certainly it rocks, but does it roll?
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