Revelation In Stone.
A short story about figure stones
Somewhere in the depth's of time, maybe as far as a million years ago, in a savannah not to far from the present day Newbury bypass, one of our possible prehistoric ancestors was busy developing his new I-Stone technology.
He had searched for suitable flints for week's and week's and had found few good candidates. He had been so particular, he knew the I-Stone had to be good if he was ever to have a chance at leading the hunt, and gaining respect from his social group. He was very smart, almost a master of his enviroment, his napping skills were exceptional and his third dimentional imagination had incredible visonary depth, seemingly absent from some modern humans, he could also somehow look into the depths of a stone and see and feel its inner beauty.
He sat on a rock and carefully inspected his works thus far, his bull elephant motif was clear, he had added the herd motive with a good mother and baby image, he had made an excellent snuffling honey badger animation, this one had worked well in his previous stones, and the group took to it with enthusiasm and had followed his forage instruction eagaly. His wolf was big and clear but that glyph had become redundant when the majority of the group had learned how to howl like wolves last summer.
It was a rather odd stone at first sight, an odd shape, a bit scraggly round the edges, a few clear chips hear and there and a fair amount of cortex left on it, looking closer it looked like it had experienced a bizarre and completely unnatural phenomena such as selective starch fracturing, freezing and heating repeatedly but only in localised areas, or like someone had put it in an industrial washing machine and neglected to add any clothes or water but only for a minuet or two, and nano sea elephant head fossils inclusions.
But when you really started to look, all sorts of wonderful visages appear out of the stone, leaping springbok, strutting gorilla and growling lions. A whole herd of elephant's roam, the baby elephant with curled trunk, as though eating. The snuffling honey badger illusion is eye candy, as you turn the stone slightly, the badger appears to look away and then back, as though it were foraging.
He is pleased with his works.....
A very long and unknown time after that and up until the present day, I really don’t have much of a clue about. But this I do know, somewhere in this story there are some elements of truth.
Ok, this all started for me in July 2011. I already had a keen interest in finding prehistoric flint tools, I had many recorded by professionals in the field and included in the Pas database. I had no idea that figure stones existed, though I had suspected that some rare flint tools may have an art or symbolic nature to them. I was pottering around on a hillside when I found the first of my now realized polyoxyglyphs. I soon became aware of the beauty and symbolism worked into this 'hand perfect' stone knife. I started to find more stone's in the immediate area and had come to the conclusion I was on to something really big and undiscovered, the fact that some prehistoric stone tool's had amazing artworks sculptured into them.
I did a little research on the internet, and found a site on portable rock art. There were stone's very similar to mine detailed on the site, but these were found in Ohio. One stone caught my eye which had incredible similarity with one of my own, The stone was described as a white bison, and true enough a clear bison head is visible with a crystal grouping for an eye and a large predatory cat on the reverse. I realized when the bison head was turned sideways, it showed a clear elephant head just like one of my stones, i checked mine and found clear predatory cat, springbok and more, all in a package showing remarkable size, shape and content similarities.
Surely this was starting to get to big for me, Im not a professional archaeologist, im just a man with an interest. How could i possibly convince the world of what appeared as an almost identical cultural link between the people's of southern England and Ohio, USA. I felt like I had just invented the wheel almost, but wasn’t quite sure what to use it for.
I started to contact people in the field, almost any professor of archaeology, flint knapper, or website owners were my people of choice. I did some emailing and got few repley’s, most were knockbacks, some claimed my finds were due to fossil inclusions or starch fracturing or other natural causes and weren’t even tools or worked or artworks at all. Had these people lost there minds? or was it me?
Luckily a Mr James Harrod responded with some useful information, and gave me guidance in this field and sort of warned me of the difficulty, controversy and ignorance that surrounds the figure stone phenomena. Ken Johnston was also kindly enough to give some guidance.
I had another revelation, some of my stones contained animations, a pecking bird, a nodding horse, a nibbling rat and a foraging badger optical illusion. How could this be? How incredibly artistic were our ancestors? How intelligent must they have been to jigsaw these images into stones. I believe not even the best flint knapping artist of our time could possibly replicate these.
I needed to tell the world of my findings, so I made a few poor quality youtube video's and
started to email anyone and everyone who i could possibly find in any relevant field.
I was finally getting somewhere with this I thought, time past, I found a few more stones, and my Pas Flo was in town doing a lecture, so i payed him a visit with my best artwork stone tool's. I was disappointed, there i was believing I had discovered my own prehistoric version of the Elgin marble's, and my Flo couldn’t really see the visages and wasn’t agreeing that they were even worked tools.
What was going on here? I was well known for my flint tool discoveries, I had a 100% positive record for identifying them and submitting them for recording purposes. Now it seemed everything I knew about flint had gone to waste, and i was suffering from a bizarre psychological condition that was making me see faces in stones, particularly elephant faces.
More time past, until recently (mid 2012), I was browsing a portable rock art site and became inspired again, so i decided to have another try at getting my stones and findings validated and evaluated. I emailed the British museum and sent interpretations of four of my stone finds. Again, these people couldn’t even seem to see the human agency in these stones, and of coarse that would scupper them, as far as being recognized artworks or communication tools.
I had seen a banner for the site of an Ursel Benekendorff and decided to have a good look at the site and email Ursel. I was amazed at the sheer number of works on the site, all grouped with like examples, and explanations for such things that conquered with my own conclusions. Ursel has now seen good pictures of a fair amount of my stones and kindly validated them for me.
My worked stones have multiple clear petroglyphs recognised as common motifs that reoccur throughout the works of one of the clear leaders in this field of study, Ursel Benekendorff.
Copyright, all rights reserved 2012
I have come to many conclusions about my stones and there uses. I am not a proffessional archeologist and this should be taken into account firstly. I am a smart guy with some very good stones though, so I may even have something to teach the experts.
Many stones are in semi-standard tool form and the rest don’t seem to have any conventional tool usage. Many also sit perfectly on a flat surface to display there beauty. And other's stand up on there own. This would suggest mantle's and sideboards maybe. The stone's were no doubt on display if not tool's, or tool's being used. This may have worked like post it note's or fridge magnet's, to let other's know what you were up to.
Many of the stones show early man images and ape images, there is a clear 'man' distinction, this may put early man in england with neanderthal close by.
The sheer number of elephants on theses stones may suggest something, some of my stones have an elephant only theme, some different types and sizes of elephant being shown, these stones could also be used to show the direction the elephants are facing and the possible temperament of the animal. The three different sizes of elephant on a good number of these stone's could also show a herd, or used to show how far away your elephants are, or even pick out which elephant you wanted for lunch. This tradition continues, but decays in the meseolthic period with mammoths being hunted. I can not say much about Mesolithic stones, as I only have a few of these. The meseo blades are usually of the same black glassy flint, and ripples in the stones are used to define ear and trunk detail, and flakeing is used for the main shape, these stone's i believe will come to life on a dark night in front of a fire, the highlights on the stone catching the light, to make it look as though the creature was there in the shadows moving around. The meseolithic people's are not releying on inclusions in there artworks as much as the older peoples, and mainly use the way they work the material to make there details.
There are some very standard motif's and these seem almost global. Many of 'my' recognised motif's have also been discovered and proven by other's in the field, most notably, Ursel Benekendorff, Jan van Es and Jan Evert Musch, I suggest study of there works for a more acadamic insight into this field. Only this morning I discover my whole buffalo/bison glyph is alredy recognised, discovered and documented by Jan Evert Musch.
There seems to be a very long history to this culture dating back to 3 holes in a pebble. I have 2 good pebble's that have a few of the glyphs. One shows, elephant, buffalo, wolf, elephant, short nose elephant. The other shows elephant, gorilla, cat, wizard. and 2 possible unknowns. For origins in pebble form of these stones, I suggest reading and viewing Richard Wilsons works.
The white stone's I have shown so far seem to be at the hight of this culture and its skill, and they probably are the best examples of there kind in this field, realised or found so far, that I have seen anyway. Or maybe we just have a family of exceptionaly visonary artists.
I believe there are many more out there sat in museums basements unrealised as anything apart from a worked piece of stone. If people looked for elephant faces in there flint collections, I bet you ten to one, they will find them.
I guess the age of the white stone to between 100,000 and 150,000 bp. Unless there was an incredibly high culture deep in the past that produced these stone's, and all other examples are just cheap imitations of this culture, then i guessing my dates are quite good. The loss of this culture and writen language maybe due to vocal improvement in early man, and paint technology.
I have one very unusual stone, which looks nothing more than a knarly flint at first pass. And there are but a few parts that show standard napping. This stone also appears to have all the usual glyphs but written onto the stone in an entirely different way, by the colour, inclusions and remaining cortex on the stone, Im going to stick my neck out here and say, the stone has had unorthodox works done that to me at least are unexplainable.
Other problems arise when you look at some of the natural inclusions in these stones. Example 1, has a nice eye inclusion, a fossil 'thumb grip' inclusion, chalk mane inclusion with inset ear, witch also aids comfort to your remaining fingers and grip, and grey elephant colour inclusion inset to the large elephant on the back. Part of this grey elephant is smooth, part is roughed up, for grip, for the palm and lower thumb.
I find it hard to believe that anyone of those inclusions is a happy accident, maybe the grey elephant. But it begs belief that all those inclusion had to have been realised to make the finished piece, as a comfortable, practical prehistoric artwork in the form of a tool.
No napper can even start to make example 1, because he will never ever find a suitable stone! That is a brash statement, and I hope some bright napper out there can replicate stone example 2, the rat head side only, as other areas of the stone reley on texture inclusions for grip.
And he would need his xray equipment. Most of these flints seem to have a film of calcite over them which may be hideing the clarity of the flint under it. And that may in some way account for the eye being on example 1. Iron seepage is also present, this may give some age clue?
Paint may also of been used to improve the stones appearance, I believe i may have some evidence of this in the form of moss. Moss seems convienently placed on some of my stones, almost as though i washed the stones but left some moss in convienient places to make the stones look better, This is not the case at all! That moss may have been incouraged or discouraged from growth by substances being put on those areas of the stones. I know this is in no way conclusive. Just maybe that moss growth is highlighting detail that is now lost.
Elephant heads in flint may have lost there shape and detail over time, but still continued in tool working tradition. This may explain possible elephant styleisation in tools from a much later period, ie, the knife of the Amesbury Archer, Which has much in common with stone example 1.
Another revelation, possibly seen in 3 stones, is what looks like bridal ware, horse harness, bit's etc. I have no idea when early man first domesticated horses, but if proven this may put it back 1000's of years. It may sound a bit silly thinking about it, as I have not seen any riders mounted yet, in my stone artworks.
Trying to further the study, as I draw my own conclusions.