Sunday, April 5, 2020

SWEETWATER CAVE. COLORADO, A UTE INDIAN PICTOGRAPH SITE:



Sweetwater Lake, Colorado.
Photograph Jared Peltzman. 

I recently received a communication from Jared Peltzman including a number of photographs he took of rock art at Sweetwater Cave, northwest of the town of Dotsero here in Colorado.


Sweetwater Cave, Colorado.
Photograph Jared Peltzman.


Sweetwater Cave, Colorado.
Photograph Jared Peltzman.

According to Peltzman "A branch of the Dotsero Ute Trail starts on the eastern bank of the lake." (Peltzman 2020)

His photographs show predominately Ute Indian pictographs.


Ute pictograph.
Sweetwater Cave, Colorado.
Photograph Jared Peltzman.


Bighorn sheep, Ute.
Sweetwater Cave, Colorado.
Photograph Jared Peltzman.

"This was an obvious stop on the ancient Ute trail, during the seasonal rounds between the high and low country. Within this cave are protohistoric and historic era Ute pictographs, painted in charcoal, ochre, and other plant and mineral based pigments. It depicts hunters on horseback, animals such as bighorn sheep, bison, and deer, and a few abstract designs including a large yellow and red shield or "medicine wheel" symbol on one of the back walls, where light directly hits it through the entrance." (Peltzman 2020)


Ute pictographs.
Sweetwater Cave, Colorado.
Photograph Jared Peltzman.

According to Peltzman "it is about 7800-7900 feet above sea level, and is a very rich and diverse ecosystem. It is very pristine and beautiful, with tons of wildlife (including bald eagles) and old growth forests lining the limestone cliffs." (Peltzman 2020)

Back on December 16, 2011, I wrote a column titled Ochre Pigment in Pictographs in which I included photos of some Ute pictographs and also some ochre mined in a cave named Shield Cave. These illustrations from Sweetwater Cave fit closely, both in subject and in style, to some of the pictographs from Shield Cave. As the two caves are roughly 12 miles apart the pictographs could well have been made by members of the same band.

I am grateful to Jared Peltzman for sharing his photographs with us and giving me permission to reproduce them. Thank you Jared.

REFERENCE:

Peltzman, Jared
2020 Personal communication.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

AN ANCIENT GREEK LAPTOP PICTURED IN A MARBLE RELIEF CARVING:



Carved Marble Naiskos,
Eastern Greek, circa. 100 BCE.
Internet photo, Public Domain.

It seem like almost every day we learn how some ancient civilization was surprisingly advanced. Now I have proof that the ancient Greeks had laptop computers.


Carved Marble Naiskos,
Eastern Greek, circa. 100 BCE.
Internet photo, Public Domain.

"Currently on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., the marble carving is titled "Grave naiskos of an enthroned woman with an attendant" and dates to about 100 B.C. The relief, which is a little over 37 inches tall, depicts a woman sitting on a cushioned throne while a servant girl holds an open box. According to the museum, the rectangular object held by the servant is "the lid of a shallow chest." (Rossela 2016)

I know that laptop computers in ancient Greece just doesn't seem possible, but, given the Antikethera Mechanism we just have to broaden our mental limits to fit the evidence.

Antikythera Mechanism, bronze,
Greek, circa 200 BCE,
Internet Photo, Public Domain.

The Antikythera Mechanism "is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. Detailed imaging of the mechanism suggests that it had 37 gear wheels enabling it to follow the movements of the Moon and Sun through the zodiac, to predict eclipses and even to model the irregular orbit of the Moon, where the Moon's velocity is higher in its perigee than in its apogee. This motion was studied in the 2nd century BC by astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes, and it is speculated that he may have been consulted in the machine's construction." (Wikipedia)

It is nothing less than an analog astronomical computer, and, if the ancient Greeks could build such a machine, how hard is it to picture them experimenting with some form of laptop computer? Actually, it is really easy on April Fool's Day.

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.

REFERENCE:

Lorenzi, Rossela
2016 No, The Ancient Greeks Didn't Have Laptops, February 5, 2016, https://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/no-the-ancient-greeks-didnt-have-laptops-160205.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/antikythera_mechanism

Saturday, March 28, 2020

ANOTHER COUPLE OF BOGUS SKY MAP INTERPRETATIONS IN ROCK ART:



Rock Painting, Thompson
River indians, British Columbia,
James Teit's drawing, 1896.

I really appreciate examples of enthusiasm expressed about rock art, the problem is when enthusiasm for something is allowed to run rampant without critical oversight. In this case the example consists of two rock art panels that look totally different (one painted and the other pecked), from two totally different cultures, probably created centuries apart, and over 1,000 miles apart, yet being touted as identical sky charts. They were published in 2015 in ancientworldblog.blogspot.com, by Andis Kaulins, and while I appreciate Andis's enthusiasm I totally disagree with his conclusions and analysis.


Andis Kaulin's Sky Map
interpretation of James
Teit's drawing, 2015.

The first example was recorded by a James Teit, a pictograph panel from a boulder near Skaitok, near Spence's Bridge, British Columbia, in the territory of the Thompson River First Nation, in 1896. Teit's drawing of this panel has 28 numbered elements, each of which was explained for him by a tribal member named Waxtko, "an old woman at Spence's Bridge. In giving her explanations she stated that she had made paintings of the same character when undergoing the ceremonies of purification at the time when she reached maturity, and that she was perfectly familiar with the meanings of all the designs." (Teit 1896:227) Teit went on to get Waxtko to identify each element in the panel and published them (pages 228-30). In spite of this, Kaulins is able to overlook this first-hand account and propose his own analysis which completely contradicts Teit and Waxtko.


Anasazi Ridge panel,
near Ivins, Utah.
Internet photo, Public Domain.


Andis Kaulin's Sky Map
interpretation of Anasazi
Ridge panel, 2015.


The second example is from Southwestern Utah near Ivins. Listed as being in a location known as Anasazi Ridge, it appears to be a petroglyph panel done in a style resembling Great Basin Rock Art (Sucec 2020: personal communication). As you can see, there is absolutely no commonality between the two panels, yet Kaulins interprets them as identical sky maps (without giving any convincing motive I might add).

To me these panels represent confirmations of the old truism "to a hammer every problem looks like a nail." These might be seen as examples of the Availability Heuristic or perhaps the Representativeness Heuristic. Every interpretation being skewed toward your personal bias. If you truly believe that ancient peoples were busy littering the landscape with sky charts, then every rock art panel you see will seem to you to be interpretable as a sky chart. You will have to make your final decision for yourselves, but as for me, I see this whole thesis as bogus. We need to take every panel on its own, as an individual example influenced not only by the individual who created it, but the culture, and the age of its provenance. These so-called sky maps were shoehorned into identical interpretations by someone who wanted them to be exactly that, so that is what he saw. I do not.

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:

Kaulins, Andis
2015 From John J. Ensminger's Dog Law Reporter to the Skaitok Boulder, Spence's Bridge, British Columbia: Rock Art as a Sky Map of the Stars Similar to Pictographs of the Anasazi in Utah, August 27, 2015, https://ancientworldblog.blogspot.com

Sucec, David
2020 Personal Communication, http://www.bcsproject.org/

Teit, James Alexander
1896 A Rock Painting of the Thompson River Indians, British Columbia, edited from notes of the collector by Franz Boas, American Museum of Natural History, Vol. VIII, article XII, p. 227-229

Saturday, March 21, 2020

CAVE ART ACCURACY OF DETAIL IN ANIMAL DEPICTIONS IS BETTER THAN IN HISTORIC ART:



Aurochs, Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet photo, Public domain.

I have recently written about the question of identifying varieties of deer in cave paintings from their antler shapes, and also about cave artists learning to portray perspective in aurochs horns over time. Joseph Stromberg wrote a piece about cave pictures of animals in December 2012 with the title " Cavemen Were Much Better At Illustrating Animals Than Artists Today." His article was a synopsis of a much longer study by Horvath et. al. from Plosone, "Cavemen Were Better at Depicting Quadruped Walking than Modern Artists: Erroneous Walking Illustrations in the Fine Arts from Prehistory to Today," which focused on the portrayal of the gaits of the animals pictured on cave walls.


Diagram of gait of Lascaux aurochs,
From Horvath et. al. 
(I have no idea why they reversed it)

"The leg attitudes of walking quadrupeds, especially horses, are also frequently erroneously illustrated in the works of fine arts. These artistic representations of walking quadrupeds have not been systematically studied from a biomechanical point of view. To fill this gap, we have collected 1000 different fine art quadruped walking illustrations from the Internet and other sources. We analysed them to decide whether they are correct or not in respect to the relative limb positions with the assumption that the other aspects of statues, paintings, drawings and reliefs used to determine animal gait are depicted correctly. As a result we have determined the rate r of erroneous artistic quadruped walking depictions. We obtained the error rates of artistic quadruped walking illustrations for the prehistoric period, for the pre-Muybridge time (after prehistory but prior to 1887) and for the post-Muybridge period (after 1887). We have also calculated the error rate for three-dimensional (cavalry statues) and two-dimensional (paintings, graphic art, reliefs) artistic quadruped walking depictions." (Horvath et. al. 2012)


Photo study of horse gaits,
Edward Muybridge, public domain.

In this study the works of Paleolithic cave artists (particularly in Lascaux cave in France) were compared to animal portrayals by artists from the Renaissance until today. "The researchers evaluated the prehistoric artists on the basis of the landmark 1880s finding by British photographer Eadweard Maybridge that horses (and, it was later discovered, most four-legged animals) move their legs in a particular sequence as they walk. The "foot-fall formula," as it's called goes LH-LF-RH-RF, where H means 'hind,' F means 'fore,' and L and R mean 'left' and 'right,' respectively. At the time of Muybridge, this was thought to be an entirely novel discovery." (Stromberg 2012)



Horse drawings, Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet photos, Public domain.

But, as the researchers discovered, the Paleolithic artists apparently had learned it too. "Of the 39 ancient cave paintings depicting the motion of four-legged animals that were considered in the study, 21 nailed the sequence correctly, a success rate of 53.8%. Due to the number of combinations of how a four-legged animal's gait can be depicted, the researchers state that mere chance would lead to a 26.7% rate of getting it right. Cavemen artists knew what they were doing." (Stromberg 2012)


Cavallo della Sforza, designed by
Leonardo da Vinci. Statue by
Nina Akamu, 1999,
Internet photo, Public domain.

"When the researchers looked at 272 paintings and statues of four-legged animals made during modern times but before Muybridge's finding in the 1880s, such as a famous horse sketch by Leonardo da Vinci, it turned out that these more recent artists were much worse: They only got the sequence right 16.5% of the time. Remarkably, even the 686 paintings and statues studied that were made more recently than 1887, after scientists knew for sure how four-legged animals walked, still got it right just 42.1% of the time." (Stromberg 2012)


Design for Cavallo della Sforza,
Leonardo da Vinci, 1482.
Internet photo, Public domain.


Drawings of prancing horses,
Leonardo da Vinci, 1482.
Internet photo, Public domain.


Leonardo left many drawings of horses and designs for equestrian statues in his notebooks and if they were shown as walking they illustrated the horse's gait incorrectly. Since the cave paintings as well as Leonardo's sketches do not generally include a ground line, the researchers had to estimate that to complete their analysis, but, if more than one foot of the animal is raised there is no way to draw a ground line that contacts three feet. Cave artists - 53.8% to Post-Muybridge modern artists - 42.1%, and we call them "Primitive" artists.

Now it is important to again clarify that this only applies to walking gaits by these large quadrupeds. Other gaits; trot, gallop, run, leaping, etc., can have different characteristics including more than one foot off the ground at one time.

NOTE:  On August 25, 2019, I published "On Endless Motion - Depiction of Movement in Upper Coa Valley Rock Art" on RockArtBlog. This discussed a 2009 paper by L. Luis and A. P. B. Fernandes "On endless motion: depiction of movement in the Upper Palaeolithic Côa Valley rock art (Portugal)" in which they discussed animal portrayals in terms of implied animation. The walking gait that Horvath et. al. are examining was classified in this study as "Symmetrical animation."

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
2019 On Endless Motion - Depiction of Movement in Upper Côa Valley Rock Art, Portugal, August 25, 2019, https://rockartblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Coa%20Valley

Horvath, Gabor, Etelka Farkas, Ildiko Boncz, Miklos Blaho, and Gyorgy Kriska,
2012 Cavemen Were Better at Depicting Quadruped Walking than Modern Artists: Erroneous Walking Illustrations in the Fine Arts from Prehistory to Today, December 5, 2012, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0049786

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0049786.g003

Luis, L., & Fernandes, A. P. B.
2009 On endless motion: depiction of movement in the Upper Palaeolithic Côa Valley rock art (Portugal), In Congresso International da IFRAO 2009, Piauỉ, Brasil, IFRAO, p. 1304-1318

Stromberg, Joseph
2012 Cavemen Were Much Better At Illustrating Animals Than Artists Today, December 5, 2012, https://www.smithsonianmag.com

Sunday, March 15, 2020

BRONZE AGE CARVED STONES FROM ORKNEY - FIGURINES OR WHAT?




Two of the figurines
before cleaning.
Photo - finstown.orkney

Over the past few years enigmatic shaped rocks have been recovered on the British island of Orkney. The team discovering them has dubbed them "human figurines."


Photo - finstown.orkney

Compared to Paleolithic carvings, or other bronze age stone carvings from elsewhere, these are laughable - loom weights or fishing weights perhaps? I just don't see human figures in these.

"Figurine" shown in situ
next to hearth.
finstown.orkney

Perhaps they served as "deadmen" buried in the floor to tie cords to for holding something upright. Indeed, this quote gives one such possibility. "Some of the objects look remarkably like stylized representations of the human form whilst others look more like stones set upright into the floor of a Bronze Age building excavated by EASE Archaeology at the links of Noltland, Westray. These may have been used to tie mooring ropes onto, to help hold the roof on." (Heritagedaily 2019)


Internet photo.

"Dating the necked stones firmly will require further work, since they have also been found on Iron Age sites in Orkney. On initial evidence, the ones from Finstown possibly date to around the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, roughly 2000 BC. Identifying the purpose of these stones, and if they are figurines, will also require further work, with a close study for abrasion, wear, and any other marks on these anthropomorphic objects." (Lisle 2019)


Note the smoothed neck
as if abraded by a
rope tied around it.
Internet photo.

I am tempted to think that these so-called "figurines" represent another example of pareidolia in rock art. On both March 2 and March 9, 2019, I wrote about the phenomena of pareidolia and mimetoliths in rock art. "This is manifested in pareidolia (recognizing ponies in the clouds, for instance), and also by fascination with mimetoliths (items that naturally look like something else - mimic them)." (Faris 2019)

"Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, the Man in the Moon, the Moon rabbit, hidden messages in recorded music played in reverse or at high- or lower-than-normal speeds, and hearing indistinct voices in random noise such as that produced by air conditioners or fans." (Wikipedia)

Whatever these pieces of rock recovered in Orkney actually are, I certainly cannot see human figures in any of them, and so I have to classify them as mimetoliths, and examples of pareidolia manifested within the discoverers imaginations. Perhaps the "further work" mentioned above will provide enough information to better guess the purpose of these rocks.

REFERENCES:

Anonymous,
2019 A Team From ORCA Archaeology Has Discovered An Amazing Series of Half-Metre Tall Stone-Carved Objects, Heritage Daily, https://www.heritagedaily.com/2019/12/nine-possible-bronze-age-figurines-unearthed-at-substation-excavation-in-orkney/124965

Faris, Peter
2019 Are These Ute Wooden Maps? - or Apophenia - Pareidolia - Mimetoliths - Manuports, March 9, 2019, https://rockartblog.blogspot.com

2019 Pareidolia, March 2, 2019, https://rockartblog.blogspot.com

Lisle, Sean
2019 Nine Possible Bronze Age Figurine Unearthed at Substation Excavation in Orkney?, University of the Highlands Archaeology Institute, https://archaeologyorkney.com/2019/12/06/ nine-possible-bronze-age-figurines-unearthed-at-substation-excavation-in-orkney/

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia)

Saturday, March 7, 2020

GENETIC MARKERS FOUND FOR THE COLORATION OF HORSES PAINTED IN EUROPEAN CAVES:




Horses, Lascaux, France.
Internet photo, Public domain.

Students of rock art have learned to always be on the lookout for representations of rare or extinct animals as a guide to their actual appearance. This is a case of a cave painting of animals that were for some time thought to be imaginary or symbolic, and now have been proven to be real. On January 18, 2020, I revisited the question of the authenticity of the spotted horses of Pech-Merle Cave in France. Genetic analysis of ancient horse fossils has provided markers that can be used to identify the color of the animal when it was alive. Not only has the existence of spotted horses been proven by genetic analysis, but genetic studies have also given us information on the color and confirmation of other Paleolithic wild horses - Equus ferus ferus.


Horse, Lascaux, France.
Internet photo, Public domain.

"Prehistoric representations of animals have the potential to provide first-hand insights into the physical environment that humans encountered thousands of years ago and the phenotypic appearance of the animals depicted. However, the motivation behind, and therefore the degree of realism in, these depictions is hotly debated and it has yet to be shown to what extent they have been executed in a naturalistic manner.
Neuropsychological explanations include 'hyperimagery,' in which an internally generated image is perceived in external space, whereas others have argued for shamanistic significance or simply art for art's sake. Some paleontologists argue that cave paintings are a reflection of the natural environment of humans at the time, but not all researchers agree with this opinion." (Pruvost et.al. 2011:1)


Horses, Chauvet Cave, France. www.bradshawfoundation.com

In a nutshell, the argument has been whether the animal depictions represent the appearance of real animals, or whether they represent "spirit animals" of some sort. As "spirit animals" their overall appearance (shape, coat color, conformation, etc.) need not be considered as representative of a real horse.



Prewalski horses from
Chauvette Cave, France.
www.haut-thorenc.com

"Where animal species can be confidently identified, horses are depicted at the majority of these sites. With more than 1,250 documented depictions (~30% of all animal illustrations) ranging from the Early Aurignacien of Chauvet to the Late Magdalenian (several post-12-kyBP sites in France and Spain), and from the Iberian Peninsula to the Ural mountains, horses are the most frequent of the more than 30 mammal species depicted in European Upper Paleolithic cave art. Depictions are commonly in a caricature form that slightly exaggerates the most typical 'horsey' features.
Although taken as a whole, images of horses are often quite rudimentary in their execution, some detailed representations, from both Western Europe and the Ural mountains, are realistic enough to at least potentially represent the actual appearance of the animals when alive. In these cases, attributes of coat color may also have been depicted with deliberate naturalism, emphasizing colors and patterns that characterized contemporary horses. For example, the brown and black horses dominant at Lascaux and Chauvet, France, phenotypically match the extant coat colors bay and black. (Pruvost et.al. 2011:2-3)


Przewalskis horse, 
Wikipedia.

"In a 2009 analysis of DNA from the bones of nearly 90 ancient horses dated from about 12,000 to 1000 years ago, researchers found genetic evidence for bay and black horse colors." (Balter 2011)


Wild horse reconstructions.
Wikipedia

"The researchers, led by geneticists Arne Ludwig of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and Michael Hofreiter of the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed DNA from an older sample of 31 prehistoric horses from Siberia as well as Eastern and Western Europe ranging from about 20,000 to 2200 years ago. They found that 18 of the horses were bay, seven were black, but six had a genetic variant - called LP - that corresponds to leopardlike spotting in modern horses. Moreover, out of 10 Western European horses estimated to be about 14,000 years old, four had the LP genetic marker, suggesting that spotted horses were not uncommon during the heyday of cave painting." (Balter 2011)

So, genetic confirmation of not only bay coloration, but black horses as well was found, as well as the final proof of spotted horses in the Paleolithic era, reinforcing the idea that cave art can indeed give us valuable insights into the extant animal life of prehistoric times.

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:

Balter, Michael,
2011 Was the Spotted Horse an Imaginary Creature?, November 7, 2011, Science Magazine, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/11/was-spotted-horse-imaginary-creature

Pruvost, Melanie, Rebecca Bellone, Norbert Benecke, Edson Sandoval-Castellanos, Michael Cieslak, Tatyana Kuznetsove, Arturo Morales-Muniz, Terry O'Connor, Monica Reissmann, Machael Hofreiter, and Arne Ludwig,
2011 Genotypes of Predomestic Horses Match Phenotypes Painted in Paleolithic Works of Cave Art, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, Nov. 15, 2011

Saturday, February 29, 2020

NEW NAZCA GEOGLYPHS DISCOVERED:



New geoglyph discovered
near Nazca,
Credit Yamagata University.

A team from Yamagata University has announced the discovery of 143 new geoglyphs at Nazca, Peru. A paper by Dr. Masato Sakai explained that "The Yamagata University Institute of Nasca was founded in October 2012 in the City of Nasca, Peru. It is the only research group in the world that the Peruvian government gives a permission to conduct on-site field study in the long run. Yamagata University is playing the central role in conducting international collaborative research with the group of specialists in anthropology, archaeology, geography, psychology, information science, conservation science, zoology and chronology." (Sakai)  Sakai was part of the team that also recently identified the species of some of the bird geoglyphs at Nazca which I wrote about on August 10, 2019, and August 17, 2019 with Avian Subjects Identified In Nazca Geoglyphs: Part One - The Hummingbird and the second article Avian Subjects Identified in Nazca Geoglyphs: Part Two - The Others!


Diagram of the new geoglyph
discovered near Nazca,
Credit Yamagata University.

This was made possible by the founding of the Yamagata University Institute of Nasca in October 2012 in the city of Nasca, Peru. "It is the only research group in the world that the Peruvian government gives a permission to conduct on-site field study in the long run." (Sakai)

Researchers have used a number of new technologies in this search. They have used aerial photography from drones as well as airborne laser detection. Perhaps most interesting and important, one of the figures they discovered was actually recognized by analyzing their images with artificial intelligence (AI).


Geoglyph discovered by Watson,
Credit Yamagata University.

"We analyzed high-resolution images of the entire Nas(c)a Pampa, obtained through aerial laser measurements among other methods, and conducted fieldword in the area, 'the researchers said. Through these efforts, we constructed a hypothesis that a thype of biomorphic geoglyph was chiefly produced along some paths situated in the western region of the Pampa.'" (Sci-News 2019)

They have now made a number of major discoveries of unknown geoglyphs. "Archaeologists at the Japanese University of Yamagata report that a long-term study conducted since 2004 has uncovered 143 previously unknown Nazca gdoglyphs, including a figure who escaped human detection and (was) discovered by artificial intelligence." (ScienceNews)

The scientists divided the new geoglyphs into two categorized based on the techniques of their original creation. This also implied two different age groupings of the figures.

"They are categorized into two main types, depending on whether the geoglyphs were made by removing stones to form lines (type A) or to form solid-colored surfaces (type B). Type A geoglyphs date relatively later and were likely created in the Early Nazca period (100 CE to 300 CE). On the other hand, the type B geoglyphs were produced at least during the Initial Nazca period (100BCE to 100CE), if not earlier." (Sci-News 2019)

This may be the first reported instance in which artificial intelligence has aided in rock art-related research and shows it to have great potential in the long run.


Diagram of the geoglyph
discovered by Watson,
Credit Yamagata University.

"The team also used the IBM Watson Machine Learning Community Edition (formerly known as IBM Power AI) to analyze images of the Naz(c)a Pampa and find candidates for new biomorphic geoglyphs. 'We selected a promising candidate from the results and conducted fieldwork at the area in 2019,' the archaeologists said. 
'This led to the discovery of one new figure in the west of the Nazca Pampa. This figure is relatively small, spanning about 16 feet (5m) across, and depicts a humanoid figure standing on two feet. It was likely created during the Initial Nazca period, as it is a type B geoglyph produced by removing stones to form a a solid-colored shape. This newly discovered figure was also situated near a path, indicating that it was likely used as a kind of waypost.'" (Sci-News 2019)

This last sentence somewhat confused me as the way I first read it I thought it meant that Watson used the presence of the path as a clue to look for something in the near vicinity, after re-reading it I have decided that the writer meant it to indicate that the figure may have been intended by its Nazca creators as a waypost/landmark along the path.

I find this report really exciting, the addition of Artificial Intelligence as a tool to locate and record rock art would be an additional possibility and a powerful future tool for preservation, study, and interpretation. I can hardly wait.

NOTES: 1. In quoting from published material I have generally used the spelling of Nazca or Nasca used by the authors. However, in the quotations from Sci-News I corrected a few that were spelled Nasza.

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:

Greshko, Michael
2018 Exclusive: Massive Ancient Drawings Found in Peruvian Desert, April 5, 2018, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/04/new-nazca-lines-discovery-peru-archaeology/

Sakai, Masato, Ph.D,
undated     World's Only Research Team on Nasca Lines and Geoglyphs, https://www.yamagata-u.ac.jp/en/research/highlights/lit1/

Science News Staff,
2019 More than 140 new Nazca geoglyphs have been discovered, November 20, 2019, https://scientistsstudy.com/2019/11/more-than-140-new-nazca-geoglyphs-have.html

Sci-News Staff
2019 Archaeologists Discover 143 New Nazca Geoglyphs, November 25, 2019, http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/new-nazca-geoglyphs-07836.html