Saturday, January 21, 2023

THE PLEIADES IN ROCK ART – REVISITED:

Marra Wonga rock shelter, Queensland, Australia. Photograph A. Jalandoni.

Although I previously have written about the Pleiades on RockArtBlog (Faris 2015) it is time to revisit the subject on the basis of additional information from Australia.

Pleiades. Photograph from smithsonianmag.com.

"Find the Pleiades" sky chart. Illustration by Ray Norris.

“In many Australian Aboriginal cultures, the Pleiades are a group of young girls, and are often associated with sacred women’s ceremonies and stories. The Pleiades are also important as an element of Aboriginal calendars and astronomy, and for several groups their first rising at dawn marks the start of winter. Close to the Seven Sisters in the sky is the constellation of Orion, which is often called ‘the saucepan’ in Australia. In Greek mythology Orion is a hunter. This constellation is also often a hunter in Aboriginal cultures, or a group of lusty young men. The writer and anthropologist Daisy Bates reported people in central Australia regarded Orion as a ‘hunter of women,’ and specifically of the women in the Pleiades. Many aboriginal stories say the boys, or man, in Orion are chasing the seven sisters – and one of the sisters has died, or is hiding, or is too young, or has been abducted, so again only six are visible.” (Norris 2020)

Astronomers Barnaby and Ray Norris have traced indigenous myths about the seven sisters back to a common source and dated it to as long ago as 100,000 years. “All modern humans are descended from people who lived in Africa before they began their long migrations to the far corners of the globe about 100,000 years ago. Could these stories of the seven sisters be so old? Did all humans carry these stories with them as they traveled to Australia, Europe, and Asia?” (Norris 2020)

Chart illustrating the contemporary positions of Pleione and Atlas in the Pleiades. Illustration by Ray Norris.

When I look at the Pleiades (which I do a lot, it is one of my favorites) I do not see seven stars/sisters. With the naked eye I see six. “Careful measurements with the Gaia space telescope and others show the stars of the Pleiades are slowly moving in the sky. One star, Pleione, is now so close to the star Atlas they look like a single star to the naked eye. But if we take what we know about the movement of the stars and rewind 100,000 years, Pleione was farther from Atlas and would have been easily visible to the naked eye. So, 100,000 years ago, most people would have seen seven stars in the cluster. We believe this movement of the stars can help explain two puzzles: the similarity of Greek and Aboriginal stories about these stars, and the fact so many cultures call the cluster ‘seven sisters’ even though we only see six stars today. Is it possible the stories of the Seven Sisters and Orion are so old our ancestors were telling these stories to each other around campfires in Africa, 100,000 years ago? Could this be the oldest story in the world?” (Norris 2020:5-6)  So the Norrises are assuming that the fact that these stories worldwide featuring seven sisters dates the origin of them to back when the average human eye could actually discern the seventh star (Pleione) which is now optically combined with the star Atlas, which they date to 100,000 years ago.

View of Marra Wongo petroglyphs. Photograph by Paul Tacon.

A recent paper by Tacon et al. interprets a rock art site in Australia as referring to the Pleiades as well. “A large sandstone rock art site, Marra Wonga, near Barcaldine, central Queensland, is the focus of this paper. This 160-metre-long rock shelter is estimated to have over 15,000 petroglyphs, which are mostly animal tracks, lines, grooves and drilled holes, as well as 111 hand-related and object stencils. There is also a cluster of human-shaped foot petroglyphs on the floor of the shelter, some with six or more toes. Unique compositions on the shelter wall include seven large, engraved star-like designs with central engraved pits and large, engraved snake-like designs running across and through other petroglyphs.” (Tacon et al. 2022)

The star panel at Marra Wongo. Photograph by Paul Tacon.

“The seven star-like designs are in an area measuring 85.6 metres high by 213.5 cm wide. (I assume this is a typo and the figures for high and wide are accidentally reversed) Each has lines that radiate out from central pits. They vary in size with three in a row across the top, two below in a second row and two more below these ones in a third. The largest are at either side of the top row and the left side of the bottom row, while the smallest is on the right side of the second row. The star designs are situated amongst macropod and bird tracks, a small possum-like hand, other small designs and a vertical row of six pits. There are also two engraved feet with five toes, one just above and into a radiating line from the second star in the top row and the second just above the left star in the third row and to the left of the second row.” (Tacon et al. 2022)

The star panel at Marra Wongo with stars labeled. Photograph by Paul Tacon.

“While recording Marra Wonga on 11 September 2020, MW and PT found an eighth star-like design at the far right (northern) end of the site just above the rock floor. It is only about 3m from the end of the rock art panel and measured 23.2 cm high by 28.5 cm wide. It is hidden, and was not noticed before, while the seven stars on the central part of the wall panel were meant to be seen, even from some distance.” (Tacon et al. 2022)  Assuming that these symbols are meant to represent stars then the eighth is likely to be unrelated to the Seven Sisters.

The eighth star at Marra Wongo. Photograph by Paul Tacon.

Tacon interprets the star-like patterns in the light of Australian Aboriginal legends about the Pleiades. “The seven star-like designs are said to represent the Seven Sisters that feature in stories across Australia and are linked to the Pleiades star constellation. Most of the stories are associated with the creation of Country, through the Seven Sisters who were very beautiful and came down to earth. They were chased by a (sometimes said to be evil) man with a big penis who wanted to make the sisters his wives. All of the stories involve events that happened at certain places between the man (or sometimes two men, sometimes seven) and the women who are constantly trying to get away. The places were altercations occurred are where there are particularly pronounced features in the landscape, such as hills, claypans, waterholes and, on rare occasions, rock art sites. The different stories all have morals to them. Sometimes their pursuer rapes the older sisters and the other sisters have to heal her. The story then has imbedded important knowledge of which plants they used for healing.” (Tacon et al. 2022)

The work by Norris and Norris gives a believable explanation for why so many cultures see the Pleiades as seven instead of six stars. Additionally, with so many of them identifying the seven stars as Sisters, the explanation from Norris and Norris that the stories date back to a common origin 100,000 years ago can be seen as possible, even perhaps plausible. Now, thanks to Tacon et al., we have an impressive record of that legend in the rock art of the First Nations people of Australia.

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.

REFERENCES:

Faris, Peter, 2015, Native American Astronomy: The Pleiades – Or Not!, 23 May 2015, https://rockartblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Pleiades.

Norris, Ray, 2020, The world’s oldest story? Astronomers say global myths about ‘seven sisters’ stars may reach back 100,000 years, 22 December 2020, https://phys.org/news/1010-12-world-oldest-story-astronomers-global.html. Accessed on 28 December 2022.

Tacon, Paul S.C., Suzanne Thompson, Kate Greenwood, Andrea Jalandoni, Michael Williams and Maria Kottermair, 2022, Archaeological and contemporary First Nations interpretations of one of Queensland’s largest rock art sites, 20 July 2022, https://www.bradshawfoundation.com/rockartnetwork/marra_wonga.php. Accessed 3 January 2023.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

RESTORATION OF THE MASHKI GATE OF ANCIENT NINEVEH:

Ancient Assyrian Nineveh reconstructed, Mosul, Iraq. Internet photograph, public domain.

In an act of wanton destruction reminiscent of the Afghanistan Taliban’s dynamiting of the world’s two largest statues of the Buddha in March 2001, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) blew up parts of the remains of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh in 2014 including the reputed Tomb of Jonah and the city gateway known as the Mashki Gate.

Destruction of the Mashki Gate by ISIS, Mosul, Iraq. Internet photograph, public domain.

Destruction of the Mashki Gate by ISIS, Mosul, Iraq. Internet photograph, public domain.

Now, while this is not a traditional example of rock art by any means, it is about something that is very artistic with a great deal of age on it, carved in stone, and besides, I have always been fascinated by Assyrian art which was incredibly sophisticated for such an early period.

The site of Nineveh was continuously occupied beginning in the Neolithic period (6000 BC). Historic Nineveh was first recorded about 1800 BC. In 1365 BC the Assyrian king Ashur-ubalit created the Middle Assyrian empire. Monarchs built extensively in Nineveh during the late 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. From the time of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859BC) there was considerable architectural expansion. Sennacherib (700 BC) made Nineveh a truly magnificent city and built a huge palace. (Wikipedia)

“At this time, the total area of Nineveh comprised about 7 square kilometers (1,730 acres), and fifteen great gates penetrated its walls. An elaborate system of eighteen canals brought water from the hills to Nineveh. – The enclosed area had more than 100,000 inhabitants (maybe closer to 150,000), about twice as many as Babylon at the time, placing it among the largest settlements worldwide.” (Wikipedia)

Archaeologist cleaning newly discovered panel. Internet photograph, public domain.

“Ancient Nineveh, on the outskirts of modern Mosul, was an ancient center of trade and religion on the Tigris River. It served as the capital of the powerful Assyrian Empire, which had writing systems and powerful regional control.” (Muzdakis 2022)

“Mashki Gate: Translated ‘Gate of the Water Carriers’, also Masqi Gate (Arabic), it was perhaps used to take livestock to water from the Tigris which currently flows about 1.5 kilimeters (0.9 mi) to the west. It has been reconstructed in fortified mudbrick to the height of the top of the vaulted passageway. The Assyrian original may have been plastered and ornamented. It was bulldozed along with the Adad Gate during ISIL occupation. During the restoration project, seven alabaster carvings depicting Sennacherib reliefs were found at the gate in 2022.” (Wikipedia)

Archaeologist cleaning newly discovered panel. Internet photograph, public domain.

In April 2016 ISIS militants destroyed sections of Nineveh by bulldozing. Although their public statements about that gave as a reason that these remaining and rebuilt structures were anti-Islamic, they also were very diligent at looting to raise money for their campaigns by selling artifacts. Purportedly, the bulldozing exposed tunnels that the ISIS looters searched for those artifacts. Hundreds were also stolen from the Mosul Museum Assyrian exhibit to sell, as well as to purify it for Islam. (Wikipedia)

Archaeologist cleaning newly discovered panel. Internet photograph, public domain.

“A team of American and Iraqi archaeologists discovered eight marble slabs while working to restore the Mashki Gate, a structure that was once and entrance to the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Researchers were able to date the carvings to the reign of King Sennacherib, who was in power from 705-681 B.C.E. The reliefs, which are in remarkably good condition, feature intricately carved grape vines, warriors with bows and arrows and palm trees. Officials announced that the discoveries will eventually become part of a new archaeological park.” (Enking 2022)

                                               
Assyrian archers, newly discovered panel. Internet photograph, public domain.

Fadel Mohammed Khodr, head of the Iraqi archaeological team “said that when the marble slabs were positioned at the gate, they were partly buried. The sections underground were preserved and bear the carvings seen today; whatever was above-ground was wiped smooth over the centuries.” (Wertheimer 2022)

So, we have a report that says seven alabaster carvings (Wikipedia), and another report that says eight marble slabs (Enking 2022). I cannot account for the differing numbers, but let us look more closely at the materials.

Mountain and foliage, newly discovered panel. Internet photograph, public domain.

“Calcite alabaster, harder than the gypsum variety, was the kind primarily used in ancient Egypt and the wider Middle East (but not Assyrian palace reliefs), and is also used in modern times. It is found as either a stalagmitic deposit from the floor and walls of limestone caverns, or as kind of travertine, similarly deposited in springs of calcareous water.” (Wikipedia) This may be meant to imply that the Assyrians carved with gypsum alabaster. “Chemically gypsum is a hydrous sulfate of calcium, while calcite is a carbonate of calcium.” (Wikipedia) On the other hand “marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite. Marble is typically not foliated (layered), although there are exceptions. In geology, the term marble refers to metamorphosed limestone.” (Wikipedia) While this does not clarify the discrepancy we do know that marble and both forms of alabaster are relatively soft rock and so easily carved.

I think that what has always appealed to me about Assyrian reliefs are the beautiful details they executed. In any case, it is a pleasure to report that the destruction wrought by ISIS has been pretty much repaired by restorers, and that, in fact, the terrorists unintentionally gave us more beautiful examples of Assyrian carving.

NOTE 1: ISIS and ISIL are acronyms for the same group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

NOTE 2: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.

 

REFERENCES:

Enking, Molly, 2022, Archaeologists Unearth 2,700-Year-Old Stone Carvings in Northern Iraq, 24 October 2022, Smithsonian Magazine online, https://www.smithsonianmag.com. Accessed 24 October 2022.

Muzdakis, Madeleine, 2022, Archeologists Discover 2,700-Year-Old Stone Carvings in Iraq While Restoring the Mashki Gate, 28 October 2022, https://mymodernmet.com/assyrian-carvings-mashki-gate/. Accessed 28 October 2022.

Wrtheimer, Tiffany, 2022, Mashki Gate: Stunning ancient rock carvings found in Iraq, 19 October 2022, https://mews.yahoo.com. Accessed 19 October 2022.

Wikipedia, Alabaster, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabaster. Accessed 28 November 2022.

Wikipedia, Marble, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marble. Accessed 28 November 2022.

Wikipedia, Nineveh, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh. Accessed 20 October 2022.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

IT STILL ISN'T POINTILLISM - DAMMIT!

Aurochs, Abri Cellier, France. Internet photograph, public domain.

Reproduction of the Aurochs, Abri Cellier, France. Internet photograph, public domain.
Drawing of the Aurochs, Abri Cellier, France. Cupules and lines separated. Internet photograph, public domain.

Back on 18 March 2017 I posted a column on RockArtBlog titled "Pointillism in Rock Art - A Misapplied Definition" in an attempt to correct reports of engraved stone blocks from the Aurignacian site of Abri Cellier in France that referred to images created by rows and areas of cupules and dots as examples of the artistic movement known as pointillism.

Model in profile, Georges Seurat, 1886. Internet Photograph, public domain.

Pointillism was a term used by art critics in the 1880s and 1890s to denigrate a painting technique developed by French painters Geoerges Seurat and Paul Signac, who developed their images with small dots of primary colors, relying on the eye of the viewer to mix the colors visually, which they believed resulted in brighter, more shimmering colors, the whole point of pointillism was not the dots, it was the optical mixing of the colors.

Mammoth on limestone block. Abri Cellier, France. Illustration from Quaternary International.

Drawing of mammoth on limestone block. Abri Cellier, France. Illustration from Quaternary International.

The Aurignacian is an Upper Paleolithic period associated with early modern humans in Europe, which lasted from 43,000 to 26,000 years ago, corresponding to the first stages of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa. "An early Aurignacian, or proto-Aurignacian stage is dated between about 43,000 and 37,000 years ago. The Aurignacian proper lasts from about 37,000 to 33,000 years ago. A Late Aurignacian phase transitional with the Gravettian dates to about 33,000 to 26,000 years ago." (Wikipedia)
Unknown quadruped on limestone block. Abri Cellier, France. Illustration from Quaternary International.
Drawing of unknown quadruped on limestone block. Abri Cellier, France. Illustration from Quaternary International.

Back in 2017 a new group of limestone blocks were discovered at Abri Cellier in France which showed images made from groupings of pecked cupules and dots, some with lines for detail, and some primarily made from the massing of pecked cupules. Some of the lines could be seen to have been created by pecking a row of cupules and then pecking out the spaces between to connect them. This was, at that time, trumpeted in the press as Aurignacian pointillism. Some of these blocks came also from Abri Blanchard. I recently acquired the original paper by White et al. (2017) which has prompted me to revisit this subject.

Rhinoceros, Chauvet cave, France. Internet photograph, public domain.

First, I wish to state clearly that I could find only one mention of pointillism at all in this original paper (White et al. 2017) and that was in reference to a possible comparison to an image at another site that had been called (mistakenly) an example of pointillism. "The use of aligned cupules to define a form has been seen elsewhere in the region and we wonder if the cupules are not the equivalent of the painted dots uned, for example, to for a pointillist rhinoceros at Chauvet. There is indeed one example in the 2014 sample that consists of painted dots on a large bloc of red sandstone." (White et al. 2017:21) This misuse of that term pointillism seems to have been picked up and applied to the images by overzealous reporters to sensationalize their stories. The paper is primarily concerned with limestone blocks, most of which were ignored or discarded by the original excavator in 1905 but which proved upon careful examination by the 2017 team to have various signs of cultural modifications.

In her article about this study (see references) Boissoneault (2017) admitted that calling these examples pointillism may well be innaccurate. "But don't go too dotty about this instance of prehistoric pointillism, art experts caution. Using the term 'pointillist' to describe the engravings and paintings might be stretching the definition of the French post-impressionist artistic technique, says Gloria Groom, the director of European painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago." (Boissoneault 2017)  What does disappoint me, however, is that the article with its sensational title was printed on Smithsonian Magazine online. I would have hoped for higher standards from them.

The paper by White et al. is essentially a very detailed study of cultural modifications made to a number of blocks of limestone from Aurignacian sites. "It is sobering to observe that when we add the modified blocks from our work to the known sample, it radically alters the proportions of themes, subjects and graphic forms observable by researchers over the past century. The case of Abri Cellier is especially telling: the traditionally known vulva-horse-ibex profile is substantially changed by the addition of 3 mammoths, now the dominant animal represented at Abri Cellier." (White et al. 2017:24)

"Most Late Aurignacian layers were excavated long ago, were often thin, poorly preserved, or even in secondary position (the case at Abri Castanet). The Abri Cellier archives suggested that a portion of this important Later Aurignacian layer might be preserved, allowing us to fill in some details, but our return to the site showed this not to be the case. The association of this new in situ discovery with Layer 104 indicates a radiocarbon age of 33,600 ± 550 BP with the base of overlying US 102 yielding a slightly more recent date of 32,450 ± 450 BP. There is every reason to believe that the date for US 104 applies to all of the blocks excavated in 1927. These dates are also coherent with those recently obtained for in situ blick discoveries at Abri Blanchard and Abri Castanet just 5 km distant. In sum, the 2014 field operation contributes substantial new data to our understanding of the recovery biases, context and chronology of Aurignacian modified limestone blocks, including some ot the earliest known graphic representations." (White et al. 2017:24-25)

This is obviously a short presentation of the long and complicated paper which led to the trumpeting in the press of Aurignacian pointillism, a claim that White et al. did not make. I recommend their paper to anyone interested in the details of their study. And this presentation is meant in no way to decry any of their statements and findings, only the hysteria in the press about Aurignacian pointillism. As I stated above, the whole point of pointillism was not the creation of the image with dots, it was the optical mixing of the primary colors in the viewer's eye. The cupules or dots on blocks of limestone have absolutely nothing in common with any example of pointillism. 

NOTE 1: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits of the owner will contact me with them. For further information on this you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.
NOTE 2: According to Merriam-Webster Online dammit is an acceptable contraction commonly used for damn-it.

REFERENCES:

Boissoneault, Lorraine, 2017, Prehistoric Pointillism? Long Before Surat Ancient Artists Chiseled Mammoths Out of Dots, 27 February 2017, Smithsonian Magazine online, https://www.smithsonianmag.com. Accessed 2 December 2022.

Faris, Peter, 2017, Pointillism in Rock Art - A Misapplied Definition, 18 March 2017, https://rockartblog.blogspot.com/search/label/pointillism

White, Randall et al., 2017, Newly Discovered Aurignacian Engraved Blocks From Abri Cellier: History, Context and Dating, Quaternary International (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2017.02.001. Accessed 4 December 2022.

Wikipedia, Aurignacian, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurignacian. Accessed 2 December 2022.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 C.R.A.P. AWARD - ANCIENT RUINS ON MARS:

Newly discovered claimed sphinx on Mars. Internet photograph, public domain.

For the highly esteemed and much sought-after C.R.A.P. (Certifiable Rock Art Prevarication) Award for 2022 our judges have selected a whole category of outrageous falsifications, ancient ruins on Mars. While NASA has been releasing photographs from Mars taken by various rovers, a whole coterie of fringies has been studying them in detail and finding statues and ancient ruins. Any search on the internet for ruins on Mars will return dozens of sites announcing this silliness.

Claimed Martian petroglyphs and hieroglyphic tablets. Internet photograph, public domain.

For this award I am not going to specify any individual purveyors of these fringe ideas. I cannot even call them theories as they are just blatant falsehoods. If you dig deep enough down this rabbit hole you can even find a few photographs of rocks on Mars which appear to have petroglyphs on them - more proof of the ancient Martian civilization.

Claimed face of a statue on Mars. Internet photograph, public domain.

Now I do not know whether some of these are examples of paredolia, in which an enthusiastic viewer is deceived by his or her own brain, but many of these are just so ridiculously outlandish that they have to be outright lies.

Claimed ruins of an ancient temple on Mars. Internet photograph, public domain.

"Mars ancient temple found in NASA images is PROOF of alian civilisation." - (misspelled civilization).

Claimed ancient ruined temple on Mars. Internet photograph, public domain.

"Ancient Temple Ruins Found On Mars In Rover Photo."

Claimed statue of an Angel in a Martian temple. Internet photograph, public domain.

"Ancient ruins on Mars: Satellite Images reveal artificial geometric structures."

Fallen statue of an ancient Martian King (artificially colored). Internet photograph, public domain.

"Ancient Ruins Found On Mars Are '100% Proof Of Intelligent Aliens' Says Expert."

An ancient Japanese tomb found on Mars by one diligent observer. Internet photograph, public domain.

"NASA probe captured on Mars the ruins of a huge ancient structure."

And I could go on - - .

Many of these wild claims are accompanied by photographs that are so grainy and blurred that you cannot quite make out the subject being claimed. Others are obviously the result of geographic processes like we see on Earth. And, quite a few are Photoshopped phonies.

Among the claims you will find a photograph of a cola can on Mars, a photograph of a glass bottle on Mars, statues, ruined cities, and even a bone, to say nothing of crashed UFOs. In a time rife with conspiracy theories I suppose we should not be surprised at these stories. I would, however, like to point out one discrepancy in the supposed reasoning behind these claims. If the NASA Apollo moon landings were staged in a Hollywood sound studio we do not really have a deep space program, so how in the world did we get photographs from the surface of Mars?


NOTE 1: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them.

NOTE 2: I am going to dispense with listing references for this column. Anyone who wishes to can look up plenty of this garbage online, and I do not wish to honor any particular source by mentioning them in RockArtBlog.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

 

A VERY MERRY

         CHRISTMAS 2022            

From RockArtBlog   

Three Rivers, New Mexico.

Photograph John and Esther Faris, 1988.

 

Decorating the Jornada Mogollon Christmas Tree.


 Have a very Merry


Christmas,


A Happy New Year's Eve, 


and all the best in 2023.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

BRAZIL’S INGA STONE - A REMARKABLE AND MISUNDERSTOOD ROCK ART SITE:

Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. Online photograph, public domain.

Some places or features seem relatively mundane and are often taken for granted, others are so striking that they attract a whole lot of attention, especially from fringies and their bizarre theories. The Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil, is a striking petroglyph panel that has been interpreted as everything from a remnant of Atlantis and a Phoenician inscription to an Archaeoastronomy site, and it is obviously none of these. Once again, the racist assumption that the poor, benighted, ignorant savages native to the area could never have performed such a feat colors the interpretation of rock art.

Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. Online photograph, public domain.

An example of the nonsense which has been attached to this poor rock is this statement. “According to Gabriele Baraldi, archaeologist, epigraphist, and Italian-Brazilian alternative researcher, known as the ‘last atlantologist’, American proto-Hittite(s) controlled geothermal energy and apparently did hieroglyphics with (a) mold by applying high mechanical and thermal stress on the rock from the lava conduit of an extinct volcano.” (Sutherland 2015)

Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. Online photograph, public domain.

This bizarre and fringie concept would have us believe that rock and the petroglyphs on its surface are cast from some sort of liquid (Faris 2021), in this particular instance Baraldi is melting the Inga stone surface with heat from a lava flow and pressing or molding the petroglyphs into the surface – that should cause a blister or two. This concept is known as fluidics.

Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. Online photograph, public domain.

Another description of the Inga Stone is found in Costa (2020). “The stone was also studied by Gabriele D’Annunzio Baraldi, who discovered, in addition to archaeoastronomic patterns, signs of Hittite writing, developed and used in Turkey in mid 2000 BC. Archeoastronomy studies the astronomical knowledge of prehistoric man. Their patterns are identified and determined by observing the alignments of the start and the planets in relation to the structures and figures erected by man. By constructing their monuments in this way, humans would be able to observe and predict the climatic seasons of the equinoxes and consequently prepare themselves to plant or reserve the foods that would serve their needs during difficult times, although it is necessary that hunters pastors (who were officially supposed to live at that time) would have neither the time or the knowledge to do so, not to mention the fact that they are always changing and therefore unable to devote themselves to such specific matters, require of them a place to residence. That is, in order to determine the stone marking of a given astronomical phenomenon and its representation, it would be necessary for these people to remain in place during the seasons, and thus, as a consequence, to devote themselves to illustrate a pattern.” (Costa 2020) In this somewhat hard to understand passage I am guessing that the phrase “hunters pastors” that Costa used is meant to refer in some way to hunter gatherer and pastoral cultures. So now we have added archaeoastronomy and Hittite inscriptions to fluidics.

Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. Online photograph, public domain.

And again, “later, F. Pavia continued the study of the Inga rock, focusing this time on the recording of a series of signs inscribed on the rocky surface of the channel itself, where a great number of ‘stars’ can be observed that can be grouped into ‘constellations.’ Both the ‘capsular’ and the ‘constellation’ records, in themselves, give Inga importance, which is why many authors refer to the Inga Stone as one of the most underappreciated monuments on the surface of Earth.” (Ancient Code Team undated)

Posseble floral motifs. Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. Online photograph, public domain.

So let us put the nonsense away and look at the reality of it. “The term ‘itacoatiara’ originates from the Tupi-Guarani language and means ‘writing or drawing on stone’, having been used in Brazil as a synonym for ‘rock engraving’ expressions. The rock art site of the Itacoatiaras of the Inga River is located in the rural municipality of Inga, whose main city is about 105 km from the city of João Pessoa, the state capital of Paraibe, Brazil.” (UNESCO 2015)

Itacoatiaras of Inga, of the State of Paraiba, Brazil. Online photograph, public domain.

“Pedro do Inga (Stone of Inga) forms a wall oriented in the northeast/southeast at about 24 m long and 3.5 m high, at its highest point, and features the three main rock art panels at the site.” (UNESCO 2015) The images are carved into its granite surface. “Most glyphs represent animals, fruits, humans, constellations, and other unrecognizable images.” (Wikipedia) Many seem to represent flowers or the buds of herbaceous plants. What strikes me about them is the depth of carving (granite has a hardness of 6 – 8 on the Moh’s hardness scale).

Aside from the fringie/crackpot ideas I have been unable to find much real information about this marvelous site. I see no possible evidence of the "star map" or any of the other strange ideas so far proposed. The best is report I could find is probably the UNESCO contribution and it is pretty sparse. I hope that this site will be seriously studied and recorded for all of us.

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.

REFERENCES:

Ancient Code Team, undated, Written in Stone: The Inga Stone – an ancient monument depicting a rare “Star Map,”  https://www.ancient-code.com. Accessed online on 11 November 2022.

Costa, Telma, 2020, The Language of Inga Stone – A New Theory About the Origen of Phoenician Alphabet – Itacotiara/Brazil, Oxford University History Society, found on Academia.edu. Accessed 30 November 2022.

Faris, Peter, 2021, Fluidics? – The Dolmen of the North-West Caucacus and the Bizarre Reports About Casting Stones and Rock Art From Liquids, 23 October 2021, https://rockartblog.blogspot.com/search/label/fluidics.

Sutherland, A., 2015, Unsolved Enigma Of The Inga Stone And Its Mysterious Ancient Undeciphered Signs, 18 January 2015, AncientPages.com. Accessed online on 17 October 2022.

UNESCO, 2015, Itacoatiaras of Inga River, 30 January 2015, https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/6000/. Accessed online 12 October 2022.

Wikipedia, Inga Stone, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inga_Stone. Accessed online on 29 November 2022.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

HAVE WE EVER FOUND A CAVE PAINTING OF A SALAD?

Internet cartoon, public domain.

I recently ran across this cartoon on the internet and it got me to thinking, have we ever found a cave painting of a salad? This is a question that I think we can have some fun with.

In order to begin this I went to the AI (Artificial Intelligence) Graphics program DALL-E2 and asked it to create petroglyphs and pictographs of a bowl of salad carved and/or painted on a cliff face. Some of the results are quite interesting.

Salad pictograph-1, DALL-E2.

Salad pictograph-2, DALL-E2.

The examples shown here are the best of the results and I am really quite happy with these, although it must be remembered that they are images imagined by an Artificial Intelligence program.

Salad pictograph-3 with chef included, DALL-E2. 

Salad petroglyph, DALL-E2.

Now, while I do not know of any rock art representations that can be identified as salads we do know that our ancestors consumed a large variety of plant foods, and I feel safe in assuming that they ingested many of these raw (uncooked), and is this not the true meaning of salad? And we know that they pictured plants as well as animals in their rock art. Some of these portrayals of plants might be thought of as salad ingredients.

Sprouted seed, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photograph Peter Faris, September 1988.

This, from Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been suggested as a sprouted seed, and we all know that sprouts make a great ingredient for a salad.

Maize, Three Rivers petroglyph site, New Mexico. Photograph Peggy Harris, 1987.

Maize, from the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico, could be eaten fresh off the cob.

Fiddlehead fern, Petit Jean Mountain, Arkansas. Internet photograph, public domain.

The tender tips of fiddlehead ferns pictured at Petit Jean Mountain, Arkansas, are edible and would add a crisp variety to the diet.

Squash blossom, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photograph Peter Faris, 1988.

Squash blossoms could be added to a dish for beauty as well as for nutrition. This is again from Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Indian rice grass, Harvest Scene, Maze District, Canyonlands, Utah. Photograph Don Campbell, 1979.

Indian rice grass at the so-called Harvest Scene from the Maze District, Canyonlands, Utah, provides seeds for crunch and protein .

Figures with a tree, pictograph, Brazil. Wikimedia photograph, public domain.

Figures with a tree, pictograph, Serra da Capivara National Park, Brazil. Internet photograph, public domain.

And a couple of pictographs from Brazil show anthropomorphs extremely interested in trees - perhaps for fruit or nuts?

I am confident that you know of many other portrayals of vegetable products that could fit the bill here, and I will be happy to receive any reader submissions for future columns.

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retreived from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them.

REFERENCE:

DALL-E2, https://openai.com/dall-e-2/