Problematic Discoveries

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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Tiompan » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:31 am

Very well thanks .Yourself ?
I did see a mention of the exhibition recently but can't find the source .
Didn't see anything on the essay and I don't think Wynn has an Academia page .
Jared Diamond did the foreword ??? , why not ?
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Springhead » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:49 pm

Tiompan,

I am fine as well, thanks. To read the essay it may be necessary to purchase the museum brochure, though over a little time it may be accessible gratis. I suppose Jared Diamond's involvement will not bring ruin to the exhibition.
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Tiompan » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:22 pm

Springhead wrote:Tiompan,

I am fine as well, thanks.

Glad to hear it .
Springhead wrote: To read the essay it may be necessary to purchase the museum brochure, though over a little time it may be accessible gratis. [/quote
I don't think Wynn has an Academia page , which might have been a potential source . Hopefully it will appear somewhere .

Springhead wrote: I suppose Jared Diamond's involvement will not bring ruin to the exhibition.

Lol .
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby shawomet » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:49 pm

I think, with the "figure stones" content of the exhibit, most archaeologists would have a problem. Such objects might fall in the category of manuports, if found in direct association with actual man made artifacts in a context suggesting they were actually transported as such. If there is no alteration by human hands, it's not hard to envision recognition of an image, but unless found in a context associated with human activity, then obviously archaeologists will have a problem accepting them. In the right context, the concept itself is not hard to envision.

Nonetheless:

http://artsandculturetx.com/first-sculp ... he-nasher/

https://www.dallasnews.com/arts/visual- ... -years-old

We should just keep in mind that without any evidence of tool marks, a manuport is basically the only status a figure stone could occupy as a class of rock handled by hominids or modern humans. Which is why context will be everything from the perspective of archaeology. I'd be interested in hearing from archaeologists on the particulars here, but would expect some snickering on their part. Not sure if that's fair or not, Just what I would expect after looking at the objects and 60 years experience handling rocks altered by prehistoric peoples.....
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Tiompan » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:44 am

We have the same problem associated with "rock art " i.e. applying a term that would not have used or considered by the original engraver/ knapper in their cultural context .

As the exhibition is called "first sculpture " and sculpture also includes found objects , then manuports , that have not been worked , also fit into the description .
"I doubt that most archaeologists would have a problem with the concept and most if not all of the content of the exhibition ."
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Springhead » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:23 am

Shawomet,

Thanks for the two links. I would be interested in Dr. Wynn's take on pareidolia, a human condition often used to automatically refute any idea that a stone has ancient human involvement based on the "misled" machinations and wishes of the unfortunate novice who might come across suspected artifacts with aesthetic components, namely figure stones. If pareidolia is an inherited trait from ancient ancestors, should it not be shrugged off as inconsequential to understanding the aesthetics of earlier hominids who may have created the subject pieces? Perhaps this is part of the key to the works of art shown in the Nasher exhibition. The great amount of archaeological work done in Europe, to include excavations, has given figure stones a context and therefore legitimacy that similar finds in North America lack with the search for Pleistocene era folks and their material culture in its infancy.

I hope this exhibition will open minds and hearts about the apparent enigma of the figure stone.
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Tiompan » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:20 am

Springhead ,
Pareidolia is one of many explanations for the misattribution of anthropic involvement to natural markings on rocks .
It is likely to have been present in the Paleolithic but cultural conditioning is all important in how it is manifested .
Pre moderns are also likely to have made the same mistake as moderns ,i.e. believing natural markings to have been purposefully engraved by earlier peoples or gods etc .
There is always the possibility that a modern could mistakenly imagine a pattern that would also resonate with someone from a much earlier culture , e.g. eyes ,faces , phosphenes etc
But I do sympathise with your point .
The main thrust of the exhibition seems to me about the possibility of appreciating earlier aesthetics .
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby shawomet » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:57 am

I have been a surface hunter of Native American artifacts for roughly 60 years. One of the Rhode Island fields I hunt is a multi component site with evidence of occupation spanning the Late Paleo through the Contact Era of the 1600's. The site, a corn field, is very unusual in having very, very few rocks, most unlike most rocky New England fields that represented once glaciated land, after all.

At any rate, the dearth of rocks means most of the rocks I come across are flakes, artifacts, and fire stones, or hearth stones. Of course, there are some naturally occurring rocks as well. But, the overall dearth allows me the luxury of checking out most rocks that I come across. Thus permitting the discovery of crude artifacts I might otherwise have missed, principly crude notched weights, and hammerstones.

And three probable manuports. Two highly polished and stunningly beautiful pebbles, and an elongated chunk of shale of the Upper Carboniferous Rhode Island Formation, split open to reveal a fossil fern. Because these were surface finds, I really can only save them as possible manuports, but my experience and knowledge of the site lead me to feel they are probable. The pretty polished stones are usually interpreted as a part of a shaman's kit. As for fossils, we know the natives collected these. A friend found a shale slab, fashioned into a pendant, and showing a fossil fern centered on the piece. Since I collect both fossils and artifacts, I always thought it to be one of the neatest artifacts found locally.

If one simply gathers up rocks that resemble things, one could eventually amass a sizable collection of rocks, I would imagine. The problem will always be whether one can be certain they were actually collected by man, and represent true manuports. It's no stretch to imagine it happening. The problem will be knowing with certainty. I have reason to believe the three rocks I described are genuine manuports, but, since they were surface finds, I don't believe I would ever be able to say with 100% certainty.
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Tiompan » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:04 am

" usually interpreted as a part of a shaman's kit." .
Do you buy that ?
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby shawomet » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:10 am

Springhead wrote:Shawomet,

Thanks for the two links. I would be interested in Dr. Wynn's take on pareidolia, a human condition often used to automatically refute any idea that a stone has ancient human involvement based on the "misled" machinations and wishes of the unfortunate novice who might come across suspected artifacts with aesthetic components, namely figure stones. If pareidolia is an inherited trait from ancient ancestors, should it not be shrugged off as inconsequential to understanding the aesthetics of earlier hominids who may have created the subject pieces? Perhaps this is part of the key to the works of art shown in the Nasher exhibition. The great amount of archaeological work done in Europe, to include excavations, has given figure stones a context and therefore legitimacy that similar finds in North America lack with the search for Pleistocene era folks and their material culture in its infancy.

I hope this exhibition will open minds and hearts about the apparent enigma of the figure stone.


Actually, refuting the belief that a stone has "ancient human involvement" is actually refuting that it shows modification at the hands of humans via the several methods used to alter stone: such as flaking, in the case of knapped tools, or pecking and grinding, in the case of hardstone tools. Many experienced artifact collectors, when those artifacts are made of stone, have a good deal of experience helping newcomers to the hobby understand when they have just found, not an artifact, but a rock, or a geofact. Natural rocks that resemble faces, animals, etc are often among the rocks an inexperience eye will find, then show up to present on one of the artifact forums, and present as an object altered by humans. Some of these folks are open minded and willing to learn when told "it's just a rock". Others get in a huff, call experienced eyes all kinds of names, but by and large simply tell those experienced eyes "aw, you guys are so smart, but you don't know nothing. My face rock is man made!" I just see it all the time. Anyway, the refutation of rocks that look like faces, etc., is accomplished by demonstrating a complete lack of tooling. That does not mean it might not have been collected by an ancient man.
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby shawomet » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:12 am

Tiompan wrote:" usually interpreted as a part of a shaman's kit." .
Do you buy that ?


Yes, because they have been found as such in excavated contexts that one, establish they were transported by humans, and two, in association with other items associated with such kits from ethnographic literature. So the inference is reasonable, IMHO....

Here is the description from the artifact guide published by the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, and in the category dealing with various types of manuports.

"Magic Stones: These items are altogether unmodified, most often quartz crystals, but also gastroliths or other oddly shaped or colored stones that might be encountered on rare occasions. They are not infrequently found associated with cremation burials, but also occur at habitation sites, where they may have been part of shamans' medicine kits."

They include quartz crystals, both single and crystal clusters, amethyst crystals, oddly shaped clay concretions, and gastroliths. Again these have also been rarely found together in excavated context, where one might infer a perishable container, like a leather pouch, has since disintegrated. As well, ethnographic literature describing such kits among Native American shamans,,,,
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Tiompan » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:41 am

Shiny rocks are attractive to non shamans .

What is the ethnography associating the rocks with shamans ?
Whilst appreciating that the shiny rocks are not rock art , there is a tendency to attribute rock art to shamans , with little or no evidence , and I wondering if this is a similar approach .

If north American, wouldn't they much more likely have been described by the informant(s) as something different from "shaman ",
which is no more appropriate than witch doctor , ( medicine people might be better bet ) .
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby shawomet » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:38 am

Tiompan wrote:Shiny rocks are attractive to non shamans .

What is the ethnography associating the rocks with shamans ?
Whilst appreciating that the shiny rocks are not rock art , there is a tendency to attribute rock art to shamans , with little or no evidence , and I wondering if this is a similar approach .

If north American, wouldn't they much more likely have been described by the informant(s) as something different from "shaman ",
which is no more appropriate than witch doctor , ( medicine people might be better bet ) .


I briefly did a couple of searches. Based on the references in the MAS "A Handbook on Indian Artifacts from Southern New England", from which I derived the earlier quote describing "magic stones" as a type of manuport, I found a 1976 article by William Fowler in the Journal of the MAS describing a number of cremation burials describing such objects. I won't link the article here. It's easy enough to find these things, and it's not really that pertinent to this thread. But I then ran a google query worded "use of quartz crystals in shamans kits". This did bring up a number of results that seemed to be in the New Age vein, but it also brought up a number of results from "google books" of a more academic nature and describing the use of quartz crystals by shamans around the world. One result brought up a Haida shaman kit containing a quartz crystal. That was from a Pinterest reference. The other returns were "google book" entries of various dates 1998-2004 describing the use of such crystals, by shamans, beliefs associated with them, etc. Again, easy enough to find those returns by running the same query.

Again, these references are easy enough to find. I'll just leave my personal observation as is, in saying that I don't have a great deal of trouble "buying it" where associating such objects with shamanism and shaman kits. Since every such find in my own surface collecting experience are just that, surface finds out of context, then I cannot prove they are even manuports, let alone remnants from a shaman's kit. I do know a number of other New England collecting friends who also have such finds from searching their own prehistoric sites. In each instance, to my recollection anyway, all are surface finds, and hence all are judgement calls. While shamans kits are sometimes a default association, it's very apparent that anyone could have collected and transported such curiosities back to camp. I've long been fascinated by prehistoric Native American interest in and interpretation of fossils, for instance. One would not expect the same interpretation as that of modern paleontology, but I'm no expert on it....
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Tiompan » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:03 am

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There is no shortage of archaeologists who buy into the shamanic hypothesis of rock art production,and no shortage of them mentioning quartz being associated with shamans but what is usually missing are the shamen .
Quartz is found in association with many ancient monuments and and arguably directly associated with the belief systems /cosmology of the people who built and used the monuments but that doesn't mean they were shamen , or there were any shamen in their culture . This is particularly evident in Africa ,America and Australia where ethnography demonstrates time and again that indigenes not only don't use the word but the description does not fit their type of medicine man , spiritual specialist etc .
Exactly , manuports are one thing , and it might be possible to provide a good argument in their favour , or suggesting quartz jammed into the fissures of a rock art site being related to the engravers , but shamen's kit is easy to say , much to easily accepted by an uncritical audience , impossible to prove and untestable .

Yep , fossils ,ammonites and oddly shaped /visually striking stones are chosen for their character and often found at thresholds /entrances , enhanced or used in association with later engravings etc .
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Re: Problematic Discoveries

Postby Springhead » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:22 pm

[imgImage][/img]


Hello,

The above image is a gastrolith with a well worn thumb location to the right and a lesser but well worn finger location to the left. This was a surface find that included three other gastroliths, a mano, possible dinosaur egg, white quartz small rounded stone, and a oval rounded jasper hammer stone. These objects were all found under leaf mold in extremely close proximity to one another and were located at the exact high point on a knob protruding from a NW facing mountain spine. From the find spot one observes that the sun sets perfectly in a mountain cleft on the winter solstice. Other artifacts have been recovered from the general area within 50' of the gastroliths, etc. There is a terrace complex near and associated to the knob (called "the central knoll").

Also, many suspected artifacts are coming from specific surface contexts such as springheads and specific spring branch locations. Though without context in a stratigraphic setting, they have group and locational context. There are large numbers of interesting stones coming from these locations. I have noticed that in these finds are many crystals and crystals in rock martrix. My guess is that they were interesting and collected by folks much in the same manner as my finding them, but certainly in part for different reasons.

A geologist/archaeologist identified the gastroliths and opined that the entire group could be sacred stones. This may have been the pat answer or maybe he had more substantial reasons for thinking so. I found that there is a very small amount of exposed Jurrasic ground in the county to the east of the mountain site. This could be a source of dinosaur material or it could have been traded or carried from afar.
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