Saturday, March 17, 2018


Orca geoglyph, Palpa, Peru.
public domain. 

A wonderful geoglyph of what what has been identified as an orca has been found and restored in the Palpa region of southern Peru, near the famous Nazca Lines.
"Archaeologists rediscovered a giant geoglyph of a killer whale, etched into a desert hillside in the remote Palpa region of southern Peru, after it had been lost to science for more than 50 years. The 230-foot-long (70 meters) figure of an orca - considered a powerful, semi-mythical creature in ancient Peruvian lore - may be more than 2,000 years old, according to the researchers. They said it may be one of the oldest geoglyphs in the Palpa region, and older than those in the nearby Nazca region, which is famous for its vast collection of ancient ground markings - the Nazca Lines - that include animal figures, straight lines and geometrical shapes." (Metcalfe 2017)

However, in a strange and ironic twist, its discoverer first located it in Bonn, Germany, and then later relocated it on the ground in Peru. "Archaeologist Johny Isla, the head of Peru's Ministry of Culture in Ica province, which includes the Palpa and Nazca valleys, explained that he saw a single photograph of the orca pattern for the first time about four years ago. He'd seen it while researching studies of geoglyphs at the German Archaeological Institute in Bonn." (Metcalfe 2017)

Nazca pottery orca stirrup
- public domain.

"The photograph appeared in an archaeological catalog of geoglyphs printed in the 1970s, which was based on research carried out in Palpa and Nazca by German archaeologists in the 1960s, Isla said. But the location and size of the orca geoglyph were not well-described in the catalog, Isla told Live Science in an email. As a result, he said, the glyph's whereabouts in the desert hills of the Palpa Valley, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Lima, were by then unknown to local people or scientists." (Metcalfe 2017)

"After returning to Peru, Isla looked for the orca geoglyph on Google Earth and then on foot. "It was not easy to find it, because the [location and description] data were not correct, and I almost lost hope," he said. "However, I expanded the search area and finally found it a few months later," in January 2015." (Metcalfe 2017)

Nazca pottery orca stirrup
jar, Larco Museum, Lima,
Peru - public domain.

This orca is therianthropic, with a human arm under the lower jaw on the left side. This is a symbol that is common on Nazca pottery. It turns out that many Nazca representations of killer whales possess these humanoid arms, often clutching trophy heads. The number of its fins is also a discrepancy. An actual killer whale has one dorsal and two ventral fins, as well as a tail that ends in a horizontal triangular shape. The geoglyph has five fins showing, three dorsal and two ventral (and there should be a matching pair of ventral fins on the opposite side). Additionally, its tail is notched as if somewhat divided. What these differences might have represented mythologically to the people of that time we probably cannot know.

NOTE: 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 originals at the sites listed below.


Larco Museum, Lima, Peru.

Metcalfe, Tom
2017   2,000 Year Old Killer Whale Geoglyph Found in Peru Desert, November 28, 2017,

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Two camels, The Camel Site,
Saudi Arabia. Public domain,

In university art departments there is a common practice known as the artist-in-residence. This is usually a working artist brought in from outside the university for a term to provide the students a good example of a working artist as well as broaden their range of experience.

The Camel Site, Saudi 
Arabia. Public domain,

"In 2016, archaeologists discovered a site in what appears, at first glance, to be the middle of nowhere. There isn't much else around for miles: the surrounding desert is bleak and inhospitable. Which is why archaeologists were surprised to find at least 11 carved dromedary camels protruding from stones at what they call 'the camel site.' The international team of archaeologists has now published their analysis of the site in the Cambridge journal Antiquity." (Hugo 2018) At first glance, these relief carvings, apparently done by someone who came from somewhere else, reminded me of artists-in-residence.

Map of location,

"The archaeologists studying the weather-beaten "Camel Site in Al Jawf, a province in northwest Saudi Arabia near Jordan, suggest the sculptures are a facet of broader Arabian tradition that was probably influenced by the Parthians (ancient Iranians) and nomadic Nabateans from preceding centuries." (Schuster 2018) Because of the location most of the severe erosion of the images would have been caused by the abrasion of wind-blown sand. This style of relief carving was certainly common in parts of the Middle East at this time, but such reliefs were not common in Saudi Arabia, making the possibility that they originated with foreign travelers more likely.

The Camel Site, Saudi
Arabia. Public domain,

"The somewhat eroded statues are tentatively dated at around 2,000 old, give or take a century or more, according to a collaboration between the French National Center for Scientific Research and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage reported this week in the Cambridge journal of Antiquity." (Schuster 2018)

The Camel Site, Saudi
Arabia. Public domain,

Given the facts that the style of carving is uncommon in the Saudi Arabia of the time, that the location of the carvings is a likely rest stop along a caravan route, and that the subjects (beasts of burden) would be most common among caravans, the conclusion that they source of the carvings was caravaneers is inescapable. Two other animals that are portrayed may be horses or donkeys, other beasts of burden that may have accompanied caravans.

 The Camel Site, Saudi
Arabia. Public domain,

My artist-in-residence analogy above is not really applicable for there were probably no permanent residences, or art departments. Based upon what can be seen today the location was probably a temporary stop along a caravan route.  However, the fact that it would have taken considerable time and effort for some of the carvings suggests that something more was involved.
"Some of the sculptures were so high up the rock that they must have required ropes or scaffolding. They had journeyed for miles and carved deep lines in the rock to depict their traveling companions. However, as (the) rocky spot is along a caravan route, the camel site could have been a resting place where travelers created images and reliefs of their four-legged friends (which) carried them and their goods from place to place." (Hugo 2018)

Perhaps the caravans left a cache of water and/or other supplies at this spot for their return trip, and one or more attendants may have stayed behind to safeguard it. To pass the time they may have done the carving. In any case, the images now provide clues to aspects of life in this part of the world 2,000 years ago.

NOTE: 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 originals at the sites listed below.


Hugo, Kristin
2018 Ancient Rock Carvings Discovered in Saudi Arabia Hint at Artists From Faraway Lands, February 14, 2018,

Schuster, Ruth
2018 2,000 Year Old Life-Size Camel Art Found In Heart of Saudi Arabian Desert, Feb. 13, 2018,

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire,
Great Britain, home of
Sir Isaac Newton.
Recent investigations have found evidence that the famous 17th century scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, created rock art, drawings scratched into the interior surface of stone blocks his home was constricted from. "Using a photographic technique to survey interior surfaces of Sir Isaac Newton's childhood home, Woolsthorpe Manor, in Lincolnshire, England, conservator Chris Pickup has discovered a doodle of a windmill drawn by the scientist as a young man." (Brown 2018)

Woolsthorpe Manor is not only where Newton famously observed the apple falling from a tree which led him to theories on gravitation, but also where he conducted his experiments with a prism that gave him his understanding of light. "Newton was born in 1642 and grew up in the house, returning in 1665 when he left Cambridge during an outbreak of the plague." (Brown 2018)

Windmill, by Sir Isaac Newton,

"' Paper was expensive, and the walls of the house would have been repainted regularly, so using them as a sketchpad as he explored the world around him would have made sense," said Jim Grevatte, a program manager at Woolsthorpe Manor, in a press release." (Traverso 2017)

This practice was recorded in 1752 by Sir Isaac's friend and visitor William Stukeley. "After visiting Woolsthorpe Manor, William Stukeley, biographer of the great scientist remarked: 'The walls, & ceelings were full of drawings, which he had made with charcole. There were birds, beasts, men, ships, plants, mathematical figures, circles & triangles.'" (Collins 2018) In a wonderful coincidence, William Stukeley was one of our earliest archaeologists. "He pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury." (Wikipedia)

            Windmill in black, other lines
              in red, by Sir Isaac Newton,

Conservator Chris Pickup discovered the new drawing during a careful study of the interior surfaces. "Previous sketches had been found in the 1920s and 1930s by tenants moving into the home, which is now owned by the National Trust, the largest conservations organization in England. Pickup and his team are currently studying the building, which is where Newton undertook his prism experiment and allegedly observed the famous apple falling from a tree, in order to understand more about the scientist's early investigations." (Traverso 2017)

"The technology, called reflectance transformation imaging (RTI), creates a synthesis of multiple digital images, allowing researchers to identify features invisible to the naked eye. "Each RTI requires over 24 photographs, so each small section is time consuming," Pickup explains." (Brown 2018)

Now I totally regret scolding our granddaughter for scribbling on our wall, I might have nipped another great genius in the bud.

Memorial plaque with sundial
plate, cut with a penknife by
Sir Isaac Newton in 1651, in
St John the Baptist's church,
Colsterworth, Lincolnshire,
Great Britain. Wikipedia.

PS: Another stone carving by Sir Isaac Newton is this sundial that he reportedly carved with a penknife in 1651 at the age of 9, in St. John the Baptist's church, Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, Great Britain. The inscription reads ""Newton: aged 9 years cut with his penknife this dial: the stone was given by C. Turnor Esqre, and placed here at the cost of the Rt. Hon. Sir William Erle, a collateral descendent of Newton. 1877."


Brown, Marley
2018 Newtonian Whiteboard, Archaeology Magazine, March-April 2018, p. 21

Collins, Tim
2018 Hidden Drawing by Sir Isaac Newton is Found Carved Into a Well of His Childhood Home Using a Revolutionary Light Trick Inspired by the Scientist,

Traverso, Vittoria
2017 Found: A Hidden Drawing in Sir Isaac Newton's Childhood Home,, December 8, 2017.