Saturday, February 22, 2020


A CASE OF HYPERVOCABULITIS - USING BIG WORDS TO SOUND IMPRESSIVE:

I have recently finished reading a book on the misappropriation of rock art imagery by our Anglo culture. In reading it I find the author used a considerable number of very big words. Now I have always felt that writers who do that are, in some way, trying to impress the reader with their knowledge instead of actually trying to share that knowledge with the reader. A few of the terms from the index of this book should illustrate the point.

Androcentrism
Commodification
Decontextualization
Discursive homology
Emic/Etic
Hegemonic masculinity
Indeterminancy
Intersectionality
Polysemy

I will note here that not one of these terms seems to be included in the online IFRAO Glossary of rock art terms composed by Robert Bednarik which, in itself, does have a whole lot of long words and arcane terminology, but all of which is regularly used in writing about rock art. Not that I am not conversant with this terminology, at least most of it. But, my point is, the real motive seems to be to impress us with his erudition instead of clearly making his (in many instances very commendable) case for his position on rock art studies. In many cases the use of these terms only confuses the issue for the broader audience. In the spirit of the occasion (using ridiculously large words for simple concepts)  I have coined a term for this phenomenon - Hypervocabulitis.

Please note that I am not identifying the book or the author. I am not interested in attacking it, or him, I am only advocating for clarity in writing. Please - make it easier to read.

In the words of the great Mark Twain when referring to commentators on research into Pre-Columbian America, "The researches of many commentators have already thrown much darkness on this subject, and it is probable that, if they continue, we shall soon know nothing at all about it."(www.jimpoz.com)

REFERENCES:

Bednarik, Robert
IFRAQ Glossary
http://www.ifrao.com/ifrao-glossary/

JIMS FAVORITE FAMOUS QUOTE, QUIP, AXIOM AND MAXIM REPOSITORY,
https://www.jimpoz.com/quotes/Speaker:Mark_Twain

Saturday, February 15, 2020

THE UNCANNY VALLEY AND PALEOLITHIC ROCK ART (with a thank you nod to Adrienne Mayor):





Chauvet Cave, France. Internet
photo - Public domain.


Close-up of upper Rhinos.
Chauvet Cave, France. Internet
photo - Public domain.

In the past I have commented on the appearance of motion I expect viewers would feel with some of the most realistic cave art when seen in the flickering and moving light and shadow of a flame. I have now found a really descriptive term that applies to the feelings evoked by the realistic paintings of Chauvette, Lascaux, and other Paleolithic caves viewed in the flickering light of torches or lamps - the Uncanny Valley.


Chauvet Cave, France. Internet
photo - Public domain.


Uncanny Valley chart.
www.techopedia.com.

From Adrienne Mayor in Time Magazine, November 13, 2018 - "Most people experience an eerie sensation when they meet natural-looking artificial beings, especially humanoid robots. This is the 'Uncanny Valley' effect, the psychological reaction of unease and apprehension upon encountering hyper-realistic replicas or automata. Affinity increases with verisimilitude, but positive feelings drop off steeply as the entity approaches being indistinguishable from reality. Anxiety rises when the line dividing the inanimate from the animate begins to collapse, and actual movement or the illusion of movement intensifies the disturbing feeling. The sudden drop-off is the descent into the 'Uncanny Valley', first identified by the robotics engineer Masahiro Mori in 1970. Today the Uncanny Valley is a well-known response to extremely lifelike robots and AI entities." 1
(Mayor 2018)


Altamire Cave, Spain. Internet
photo - Public domain.

In other words, if I understand this right, knowing that a picture (or statue, etc.) is not a real live being we are comfortable with it, perhaps increasingly so as it approaches more lifelike in appearance, until it reaches a certain point at which the increasingly lifelike appearance gives us an uneasy feeling, or perhaps a creepy feeling is actually the best word. Then that feeling dissipates as the object continues to become more lifelike. "The term refers to the shape of the graph formed when plotting people's reactions to different objects that continuously increase in their human-like appearance. As the human likeness of the object increases, people's affinity to it increases until a point is reached that the human likeness becomes off-putting, disturbing and weird. This is the uncanny "valley" since there is an immediate drop to affinity and then another immediate rise on the other side, forming the shape of a 'V' or a valley." (techopedia.com)


Chauvet Cave, France. Internet
photo - Public domain.

I wondered about applying this theory to rock art studies so I contacted Adrienne Mayor to get her opinion. To my inquiry on this Mayor replied "Yes, I think the uncanny valley sensation can be triggered by realistic-seeming animals. Notably, the roboticist who first identified the eerie sensation in about 1970, Masahiro Mori, felt the uncanny sensation when looking at lifelike prostheses. So, I would guess that seeing the amazingly lifelike animals in cave paintings by flickering light would evoke feelings of fear, awe, and wonder." 2
(Mayor, Nov. 14, 2019, personal communication)


Chauvet Cave, France. Internet
photo - Public domain.

Having looked at this I believe it adequately fits the proposed situation of the effect applied to the cave paintings. Perhaps the proponents of the Neuropsychological Model should look at this as a real neuropsychological effect in perceiving rock art instead of promoting their theories about shaman and phosphenes. This is one effect that can actually be measured by an electroencephalogram.

NOTE: I am grateful to Adrienne Mayor, a friend of many years now, for her suggestion and help with this.

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:

https://www.techopedia.com/definition/31570/uncanny-valley

Mayor, Adrienne
1.     2018 The Concept of the "Uncanny Valley" Dates to 1970. The Phenomenon Is Thousands of Years Older, Time Magazine, November 13, 2018, Time-Life Corp.

2.     2019, November 14, personal communication with the Adrienne Mayor.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

AUROCHS HORNS IN CAVE ART - A LEARNING EXPERIENCE:


Aurochs, Albarracín, Teruel, Spain.
Internet photo - Public Domain.


Aurochs, Internet Photo.
Public Domain.

The marvelous cave paintings of Europe represent many of the earliest examples of art that we have and the question has always been "how could the first ones be among the greatest and most beautiful, where was the learning curve?"

Well, it may be that some of the examples of the learning curve have been right before our eyes all along. The earliest dated cave art in Europe is found in Chauvet Cave, in France. In Chauvet Cave "more than 80 radiocarbon dates had been obtained by 2011, with samples taken from torch marks and from the paintings themselves, as well as from animal bones and charcoal found on the cave floor. The radiocarbon dates from these samples show that there were two periods of creation in Chauvet: 35,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago. One of the surprises was that many of the paintings were modified repeatedly over thousands of years, possibly explaining the confusion about finer paintings that seemed to date earlier then cruder ones." (Wikipedia) Note that it says that paintings were modified repeatedly over thousands of years. If we read that to mean corrected and/or improved we have a pretty good explanation.


"Unicorn", Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet photo - Public Domain.

In Lascaux Cave, in France, the learning curve might also actually be visible for our analysis. One mystery in Lascaux is the creature that has been called "the unicorn." This is a large, bovine looking animal with two long straight horns projecting forward and up from its head. Its body and head are relatively crude. I submit that this may, in fact, be an aurochs, one of the earliest attempts, and one poorly done at that. Reconstructions of the aurochs show that the horns start out projecting from the skull to the sides and then arcing forward with the tips curving upward. If I am right the "unicorn" is a first attempt to depict an aurochs with no appreciation for the artistic techniques of perspective, the double curves of the horns were just too difficult for this painter.


Auroch, Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet Photo - Public domain.


Auroch, Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet Photo - Public domain.

Other examples in Lascaux show aurochs horns shaped like a lyre, a much more sophisticated, and therefore, I assume, later portrayal.



Auroch horns portrayed in a single plane. 
Chauvet Cave, France.
Internet photo - Public Domain.

A second aurochs from Chauvet Cave does a much more satisfactory job of presenting the actual shape of aurochs horns.



Auroch horns in three dimensions. 
Chauvet Cave, France.
Internet photo - Public Domain.


The earlier images from Chauvet Cave, although in many respects more sophisticated in representations of shape, coloration, and coat shading, are, to my mind, less successful in portraying the horns of the aurochs. One famous panel shows the horns projecting forward with a double curve but in a single plane. This shows that the horns were curved, but it is completely inadequate in portraying their actual shape and orientation.

Now, I am not trying to imply that artists from one cave learned from the artists of another cave. I do not believe that they knew of the other artists or their works, but it does seem likely that they learned from the artists who had gone before them in their own communities. I suspect that when we can get direct dating from the paints we will learn the order of the production of the images in each cave, but until that day we have to look for clues in the images themselves, and I submit that one clue can be the portrayal of details such as the aurochs horns examined here.

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:

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

Saturday, February 1, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: “Standing on the Walls of Time”



Cover, Standing on the Walls of Time:
Ancient Art of Utah's Cliffs and Canyons,
by Kevin T. Jones.

I have never understood why so many self-appointed “experts” in rock art make such a big deal about "it is not really art" or, "those people never even had a word for art." Why would you choose to devote yourself to a subject and then begin by denigrating it? These people are usually brand new to the field of rock art and almost invariably totally ignorant of the disciplines of Art History. As someone with a background in Art History my answer to them has always been "of course it is art. It is art because I say so." Art Historians have always chosen what they wish to study based on the creativity of the material and their curiosity about the culture, and the designation of art goes with their attention to the subject. So-called "Primitive Art" has been a subset of the field of Art History for at least a century and a half.


Barrier Canyon style,
"the Perfect Panel",
Fig. 3.1, p. 26.,
Photograph Layne Miller.

Now, I have an official and legal backup for my position because the legislature of the State of Utah in 2017 passed SB2017-171 declaring Utah's rock art as Official Art of the State of Utah, signed into law by the Governor of Utah on March 22, 2017.

Earlier in 2017 the Utah Legislature had named Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (a work of landscape art that I have always admired) as the official Utah State Work of Art. As a former Utah State Archaeologist, Kevin T. Jones was not supposed to consider rock art as anything but an artifact, without meaning, and certainly not ART. Yet the news about the Spiral Jetty bothered him. How could Utah, a state named after its indigenous peoples, ignore the amazing petroglyphs and pictographs found in such abundance all over the State, left by those indigenous people? Jones came to the conclusion that this was actually art, and, as such, deserved at least equal billing with a modern construction done by someone from outside the State. His subsequent efforts led to the passage of Utah’s SB2017-171.


Figure with yucca, Barrier Canyon
style or Basketmaker, Fig. 2.5, p. 14.,
Photograph Layne Miller.

That leads me to this review of his book Standing on the Walls of Time: Ancient Art of Utah's Cliffs and Canyons, by Kevin T. Jones, with photographs by Layne Miller, University of Utah Press, 2019, 152 pp., 153 color photos, 1 map, $19.95 (paper).

This is not a text book - it contains very little factual or scientific information about the prehistoric peoples who lived in Utah and created the rock art. This is not a coffee table book, although it is filled with magnificent photographs by Layne Miller. This book is an art appreciation book although Jones himself had never thought of it that way. Indeed, he seemed surprised when I referred to it as such when discussing it with him. It is a paean to the creative imagination and sophisticated cultures of the people who created the pictographs and petroglyphs that fill its pages.


Fremont, "The family panel",
Nine-Mile Canyon, Fig. 7.8, p. 74,
Photograph Layne Miller.

In chapter one (on page 3) he writes "Some view the art of early cultures as code for something knowable through induction, such as representing maps, stories, calendars, astronomical markers, even validation of Western religious teachings. This book represents a departure from nearly all of these approaches. I am not going to try to interpret the artist's meanings or symbols. In fact, I am strongly opposed to that approach. I do not try to match or categorize symbols in an attempt to advance culture history studies. I advocate for a much simpler, more human approach - to view the work of ancient artists purely as art. Let it reach you on more of an emotional, as opposed to intellectual level."  Jones' inner journey from the traditional archaeologist's position that "rock art is nothing but artifacts, we will never understand it" to his present belief must have been in equal parts uncomfortable and exciting for a professional archaeologist. His 180 reversal from the predominant "official" position of North American archaeologists of 20 -30 years ago to his present advocacy must have been a remarkable adventure.

Kevin’s conclusions on how we should relate to rock art have also taken a non-traditional turn. In chapter fourteen (on page 140) he wrote - "While some take pride in keeping site locations secret and only sharing them with "trusted" associates, this does nothing to protect sites. Hoarding special knowledge may be good for your status among friends, but it is self-serving and not beneficial to the resource.
Sharing your love and appreciation of ancient art is beneficial, as it enables better management and protection of sites and brings more allies into the ranks of caretakers and stewards. Take photographs, share them with your friends. Post them on social media without revealing exact locations. Enjoy and love these gifts from those who lived before us, and those who live after us, those who live a hundred years from now, will likewise be able to enjoy and love them."


Fremont, "The Wolf Man",
Nine-Mile Canyon, Fig. 9.6, p. 94,
Photograph Layne Miller.

This volume is a once-in-a-lifetime book. There are many good, even great, rock art books on today’s market. I have reviewed a number of them here on RockArtBlog over the years. But I have seen nothing like this book before. Do yourself a favor, read “Standing on the Walls of Time” by Kevin T. Jones.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

ANIMALS IN ROCK ART: PALEOLITHIC SPOTTED HORSES - REAL OR FANCIFUL?




       Spotted horses, Pech-Merle
Cave, 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.

"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)

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.

One animal where these questions have been raised is the horse, specifically the depictions of spotted horses.

Coat colors and patterns
of Paleolithic horses.
Internet photo - Public Domain.


Bay and Black horses,
Chauvet Cave, France.
Internet photo - Public Domain.

"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. However, the depictions in the cave of Pech-Merle, France, dated to 24.7 kyBP, featuring spotted horses in a frieze that includes hand outlines and abstract patterns of spots, have led prehistorians to argue for more complex explanation for several reasons. First, the juxtaposition of elements in this depiction raises the question of whether the spotted pattern is in some way symbolic or abstract, and second, a spotted coat phenotype is, at least by many researchers, considered unlikely for Paleolithic horses." (Pruvost et.al. 2011:2-3)


 Spotted horses, Pech-Merle
Cave, France.
   Internet photo - Public domain.

Most researchers before now had considered a horse with a spotted coat to have been improbable before domestication. Indeed, most non-domesticated wild animals have coats that are relatively solid in color, often darker above and lighter below. Now, a new genetic study has indicated that there was a strong genetic possibility of spotted horses back in the Paleolithic period.

"Now, a new study of prehistoric horse DNA concludes that spotted horses did indeed roam ancient Europe, suggesting that early artists may have been reproducing what they saw rather than creating imaginary creatures." (Balter 2011)


Bay horses, Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet photo - Public Domain.


Close-up of bay horse,
Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet photo - Public Domain.



Close-up of bay dun horse,
Lascaux Cave, France.
Internet photo - Public Domain.


"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 but not sign of the spotted variety." (Balter 2011) This led researchers to suggest that the spotted horses had been imaginary, spiritual beings.

"But in a new paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same team reports finding that spotted horses did indeed exist around the time that cave artists were doing their best work. 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)

This is not proof that the Pech Merle spotted horses were painted after real models, but it is proof that they could have been.

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, January 11, 2020

BIGHORN SHEEP HEADDRESSES AND HORNED ANTHROPOMORPHS - PART 2: FREMONT AND LATER.

Bighorn Sheep Headdresses, Continued:


Fremont horned figures, Utah.
Photo Sherman Spear.

Last week I presented Part 1 of this look at Bighorn Sheep Headdresses and Horned Anthropomorphs in rock art of Archaic peoples. This continuation looks at examples from the Fremont and later Ancestral Pueblo and Navajo cultures.

Bighorn sheep headdress, Utah
State University Eastern Prehistoric
Museum, Price, Utah.
Photo provided by Tim Riley, curator.

"An amazing artifact, a prehistoric bighorn sheep headdress, is part of the Tommy Morris collection exhibited at the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in Price, Utah. The artifact was apparently found on the eastern edge of the San Rafael Swell near the Colorado or Green River. This region is home to both Desert Archaic and Fremont peoples, both regularly hunted bighorn sheep and created rock art galleries featuring horned anthropomorphs and bighorn sheep imagery." (Garfinkel 2014:2)


Fremont, McKee Springs, Dinosaur
Nat. Mon., Uinta County, UT.
Photo Peter Faris, Sept. 1994.

The radiocarbon age for this material provided a measured determination of 720 plus or minus 30 before present (BP) with a conventional age of 950 plus or minus 30 BP. With a 2 sigma calibration that radiocarbon date converts to a calendar age of AD 1020 to 1160 (cal 930 to 790)." (Garfinkel 2014:8) This date establishes the bighorn sheep headdress as a Fremont artifact.


Fremont horned figure, McConkey
Ranch, Vernal, Uintah County, UT.
Photo Peter Faris, 1986.

"The Fremont culture or Fremont people is a pre-Columbian archaeological culture which received its name from the Fremont River in the U.S. state of Utah, where the culture's sites were discovered by local indigenous peoples like the Navajo and Ute. - It inhabited sites in what is now Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Colorado from AD1 to 1301 (2,000 - 700 years ago). It was adjacent to, roughly contemporaneous with, but distinctly different from the Ancestral Pueblo peoples located to their south." (Wikipedia)

Fremont horned figure, Moab, UT.
Photo Peter Faris, 2000.
The horned headdress is actually
created by the superimposed 
heads of two bighorn sheep.

Many of the anthropomorphs portrayed in Fremont rock art are shown wearing horned headdresses. A few of these can be identified as pronghorn antelope horns or deer antlers by branching shapes but most are un-branched projections upward from a headdress - often curved - and are assumed to represent bighorn sheep headdresses.


Muyingwa, Hopi horned kachina.
Alph Sekacucu, 1995, Following
The Sun And Moon, p. 24.

The tradition of horned headdresses can be followed down to the present day with the example of the Puebloan people's Two-Horn Kachinas Aalosaka and Muyingwa, and the Two-Horn society members, all of whom wear two-horned headdresses.


Two-Horn Society priests,
Photo chaz.org.

"Aalosaka is a supreme being, a deity of the Two-Horn society. He is revered by the society members as supremely wholesome and spiritually powerful. He is one of the Mongkatsinam, appearing singly with the mixed katsina group. Muyingwa is a Germination god possessing the great knowledge and duties related to agriculture. He ritually insures that the processes for plant life will properly develop and the plants sprout for eventual life sustenance. He is one of the Mongkatsinam, appearing singly with the mixed katsina group." (Secakuku 1995:25)



Two-horn society headdress,
15th Annual report of the Bureau
of American Ethnology to the
Secretary of the Smithsonian
Institution, 1893, Pl. 60,
facing p. 301.

Members of the Two-Horn Society seem to act as security for some Hopi ceremonials. On the fourth night of the Wuwuchim - - "the One Horn and Two Horn Societies close all the roads that lead to our villages. They do that so as to clear the spiritual highway that leads from there to the rising sun." (Tyler 1964:16) And on other occasions - "another fertility god, Germinator, who may be called either Muingwu or Alosaka. Germinator is highly specialized as a fertility god, and his underworld aspects are closely confined to the subject, although the Two Horn Society members represent him on the night of the dead." (Tyler 1964:19)


Navajo Ganaskidi petroglyph,
Largo Canyon, New Mexico.
Internet photo, Public Domain.


Navajo Ganaskidi impersonator,
Photo Edward S. Curtis, 1904,
Public Domain.

The Navajo equivalent of Muyingwa is Ganaskidi (meaning humpback), the "God of harvests, plenty and of mists. He is said to live at Depehahatil, a canyon with many ruined cliff dwellings north of San Juan. According to tradition he is the apotheosis of a bighorn sheep. His priest wears a blue mask with no hair fringe but with a spruce crown and collar." (godfinder.org)

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.

I wish to thank Dr. Tim Riley, Curator of Archaeology of the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, in Price, Utah for providing the photograph of the Bighorn Sheep headdress and accompanying information.

REFERENCES:

Garfinkel, Alan P.
2014 Age and Character of the Bighorn Sheep headdress, San Rafael Swell, Utah, July 9, 2014, AGG Associates Research Paper Number 3, Bakersfield, California, Available on Academia.edu.

godfinder.org/index.html?q=Navaho

Powell, John Wesley, editor
1897 Fifteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1893-94, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.

Secakuku, Alph H.
1995 Following The Sun And Moon, Hopi Kachina Tradition, Northland Publishing, Flagstaff, AZ.

Tyler, Hamilton A.
1964 Pueblo Gods and Myths, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman

Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fremont_culture

Saturday, January 4, 2020

BIGHORN SHEEP HEADDRESSES AND HORNED ANTHROPOMORPHS, PART 1 - ARCHAIC PEOPLES:




Bighorn Sheep, Archaic petroglyph,
Nine-Mile Canyon, Utah.
Photo Paul and Joy Foster, 
from Colo. Rock Art Archives.
(Note - the figure on the left
has his head posed in a rare
frontal position.)

Here in the west images of anthropomorphs with horned headdresses are found from the beginning. From Archaic rock art to present Puebloan katcina, headdresses with two bighorn sheep horns can be found. In an April 18, 2019, webinar titled Southwestern Rock Art and the Mesoamerican Connection presented to the Colorado Rock Art Association, Dr. James Farmer suggested that southern images such as Tlaloc were influenced by northern Barrier Canyon Style rock art (2019 Farmer, and 2019 Farmer, personal communication).

This may have also been the case with influences transmitted down through time, as well as from north to south, from Archaic cultures to the historic and modern Native American tribes of the Southwest. One theme which is common in Barrier Canyon Style rock art as well as rock art of the Fremont people is an anthropomorph wearing a horned headdress. Some of these headdresses are recognizable as pronghorn antelope horns, or deer antlers, but many appear to feature bighorn sheep horns. This is also the case with present day Puebloan peoples whose Aalosaka and Muyingwa kachinas wear bighorn sheep headdresses. Many of the Puebloan peoples also have Two-Horn Societies whose members wear two-horned headdresses. Indeed, a photo of such a headdress was included in the Fifteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1893-94, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 1897.


Bighorn Sheep Headdress, as
exhibited in Utah State University
Eastern Prehistoric Museum,
Price, Utah. Photo by Courtesy of
Dr. Tim Riley, Curator of Archaeology.

"An amazing artifact, a prehistoric bighorn sheep headdress, is part of the Tommy Morris collection exhibited at the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in Price, Utah. The artifact was apparently found on the eastern edge of the San Rafael Swell near the Colorado or Green River. This region is home to both Desert Archaic and Fremont peoples, both regularly hunted bighorn sheep and created rock art galleries featuring horned anthropomorphs and bighorn sheep imagery. The San Rafael Swell is also the core area for the distribution of Barrier Canyon Style pictographs, and all major river canyons in this area include painted rock art galleries containing anthropomorphs, many of which are adorned with horn headdresses." (Garfinkel 2014:2)

Perhaps the most remarkable manifestations of the creativity of Archaic peoples are the Barrier Canyon style rock art panels mentioned above.

"The bighorn sheep headdress, as it appears in the display case in the Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum today, is tied together with cordage and is decorated with fifteen Olivella shell beads. This present configuration is partially a reconstruction of what Tommy Morris and previous museum curators thought the headdress might have look like when it was in use. It does not appear to be representative of how the artifact was originally found in the 1960s. Notes at the museum document that the headdress was found in two pieces with drilled holes in the cranium with six Olivella shell beads scattered around it." (Garfinkel 2014:2)



Barrier Canyon Style painted figures,
Sego Canyon, Utah.
Photo J. & E. Faris, June 1999.


Close-up of central figures,
Barrier Canyon Style painted figures,
Sego Canyon, Utah.
Photo J. & E. Faris, June 1999.

The Archaic culture in the American West is represented by the pre-agricultural hunting and gathering lifestyle. 


Coso rock art, Little Petroglyph
Canyon, California.
Photo Stephen Bodio.
Coso rock art, California.
Photo Gettyimages.ca.

One place that exhibits Archaic horned figures in great abundance is the Coso Rock Art District in California. These figures are presumed to date to many thousands of years BC, and represent one of the greatest concentrations of Archaic rock art in North America. Indeed, the early people who inhabited the Coso area also produced huge numbers of images of desert bighorn sheep, indicating a very early significant correlation between the sheep and horned anthropomorphs.


Barrier Canyon Style painted
figures, Sego Canyon, Utah.
Photo Peter Faris, August 1993.

In Utah and western Colorado this lifestyle culminated in the people who produced the distinctive Barrier Canyon Style rock art. "Barrier Canyon Style (BCS) describes a distinctive style of rock art which appears mostly in Utah, with the largest concentration of sites in and around the San Rafael Swell and Canyonlands National Park, but the full range extend(s) into much of the state and western Colorado. - These panels are believed to have been created during the archaic period (probably late archaic) and are estimated (from direct and indirect carbon 14 dates) to be somewhere in the range of 1500 to 4000 years old, possibly older - - clay figurines of a similar style found in Cowboy Cave (in a tributary canyon to Horseshoe Canyon) have been dated to over 7000 years old." (Wikipedia)


 Harvest Scene, Maze District,
Canyonlands, San Juan County, UT.
Photo Sherman Spear, June 1978,
with Marian Spear.


Harvest Scene, Maze District,
Canyonlands, San Juan County, UT.
Photo Don I. Campbell, May 1983.

"Given the need for more accurate dating of the headdress discussions ensued with the analysts at Beta Radiocarbon Laboratories. It was decided that the most accurate dates would not be on bone or shell but on the textile materials - that is the milkweed cordage that served to attach the beads directly to the bighorn sheep cranium. The radiocarbon age for this material provided a measured determination of 720 plus or minus 30 before present (BP) with a conventional age of 950 plus or minus 30 BP. With a 2 sigma calibration that radiocarbon date converts to a calendar age of AD 1020 to 1160 (cal 930 to 790)." (Garfinkel 2014:8) While this date is later than the Barrier Canyon Style art presented here, the fact that so many BCS figures possess horns suggests that earlier examples of the bighorn sheep headdress existed, but may not now survive. 


Horned Figure, Hueco Tanks, TX.
Photo Peter Faris, March 2004.

To be continued next week. 

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.

I wish to thank Dr. Tim Riley, Curator of Archaeology of the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, in Price, Utah for providing the photograph of the Bighorn Sheep headdress and accompanying information.

REFERENCES:

Farmer, James, Dr.
2019 Southwestern Rock Art and the Mesoamerican Connection, April 18, 2019, online webinar presented to Colorado Rock Art Association.

Garfinkel, Alan P.
2014 Age and Character of the Bighorn Sheep headdress, San Rafael Swell, Utah, July 9, 2014, AGG Associates Research Paper Number 3, Bakersfield, California, Available on Academia.edu.

Powell, John Wesley, editor
1897 Fifteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1893-94, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.

Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fremont_culture
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrier_Canyon_Style