Unknown has left a new comment on my post "ARE LASCAUX CAVE PAINTINGS ENCODED PALEOLITHIC STAR CHARTS?": (posted on August 14, 2018)

"You missed the entire point of the claim of the Taurus constellation found in this cave art. This constellation in no way looks like a bull, just like the other constellations do not look like the animals for which they are named. That is not the claim.

The entire point for the 12 signs of the zodiac has to do with the 26,000 year precession of the earth. Each of the signs take up 1/12 of the 26,000 year precession, or 30 degrees of the night sky. So, how did the cave painters from 15,000 BC know about the precession of the earth? If one of these cave painters lived to be 72 years old, he or she would only witness a 1 degree precession. So, we are left with the the idea that these dots on the bull are coincidence, the cave painter had another reason for revering these star constellations and they happen to put them on a bull, or they had knowledge of the precession of the earth." (unknown, January 28, 2020)

Again, this would probably make sense if you believe that these ancient cave painters had all of this advanced secret knowledge and understood the precession of the earth, or if there was any reason to believe that the dots are stars at all - they are dots, DOTS, not stars. The wonderful thing about rock art studies is that it is still general enough that it has room for a wonderful variety of theories. You are entitled to yours and I to mine. Mine has not changed.    
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On June 26, 2017, vdinets left a new comment on my post "ANIMALS IN ROCK ART - A PAINTED MONGOOSE IN AN EGYPTIAN TOMB:"

Tomb of Baqet I, Photo Linda Evans,
Australian Center for Egyptology,
Macquarie Univ., Sydney

“The dog looks a lot like African wild dog, actually.”, vdinets.
Internet, public domain.

Thank you again vdinets. From online research I come up with three Ancient Egyptian dog breeds that are generally pictured as short tailed; the Saluki, the Basenji, and the Whippet. Of the three the Saluki has floppy ears that hang down, and the Whippet has small ears that seem to sort of curl back. The Basenji is seen with a short tail and larger ears standing up, as in the tomb of Baqet I. My guess is Basenji although it could also have been the Ibizan or the Pharaoh Hound with shortened tails.
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Friday, July 25, 2019,
vdinets has left a new comment on my post "A RIDICULOUS CLAIM - THE EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDS ARE ORIENTED TO THE STARS IN ORION’S BELT: from November 10, 2018.

Now this is a great comment, whoever you are, and one that I can reply to.

“It's an old claim (dating back at least to the 1960s if I remember correctly). Supposedly you have to use the map of the Orion's Belt the way it looked at the time the pyramids were built (star positions have changed a bit). I never checked it, but I don't find the theory to be so obviously bonkers. The plan of the Giza Pyramids does look at least superficially similar to the Belt, and doing this doesn't require any particularly advanced knowledge, certainly not compared to what was required to build the pyramids themselves. You can build the first two pyramids anywhere you want, and then just calculate the angle and the distance to the third one to make a "scale model" of the Belt.” – vdinets

Thank you for your reasonable and well-written response to my original column. I must confess that I may have too quickly and easily assumed the theory is bogus because of the sources promoting it. In Matthew 7:16 Jesus said “by their fruits you will recognize them” and some of these sources are definitely fruitcakes. Many others are serious believers who get misled by these false prophets. In order to test my conclusion I went to and ran Orion from about 30,000 BC to 30,000 AD with the point of view set to Egypt. While some of the peripheral stars moved the stars in his belt did not shift an iota - if I did it right. I think I will stick with my original conclusions with this caveat added. I have no way of knowing if Orion inspired the placement of the three pyramids of Giza. You have no way of knowing it either, no-one does. I should perhaps been a little tighter in stating my premise. The fringies are claiming that it is a perfect replica and alignment and I have proved to my satisfaction that it is not that. I have no idea what inspired the placement of the three major pyramids at Giza, and until an inscription or papyrus is found concerning it nobody can know. It is only an interesting speculation that the simulation does not back up.

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On June 27 I received an anonymous comment concerning my June 21, 2014 posting DINOSAURS IN ROCK ART? - THE HAVASUPAI CANYON HADROSAUR. In it I discuss the discoverer's belief that he had found the image of a hadrosaur dinosaur, and how new knowledge of their bearing and posture (among other things) makes that impossible (aside from their disappearance 65 million years before humans). This comment, from Unknown, states "Although it is true we believe them to have walked or run with their tails horizontal as a counter weight so to speak. It is also every bit as likely that they would have used their tails to sit, reach something higher up or as a defensive posture, as postulated by the discoverer. Your argument that it is definitive proof as a hoax because the depiction shows him standing upright is both inaccurate and disengenuine." An online dictionary I consulted defines disengenuine as "unworthy, fake, or deceptive" and the comment was sent to me by Unknown. In other words Unknown is calling me a liar. Well, Unknown, you actually have a reasonable point in your comment about the posture of hadrosaurs and I would have liked to discuss it with you. I make it my policy to reply to all comments I receive from people who give me names and e-mail addresses to reply to. You, however, like most of the people whose comments are meant to be insults provided neither. So, Unknown, you are a coward, and I can give you no credit for what strikes me as a small, but good, point in what might have been an interesting discussion.

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On September 24, 2018, I had the opportunity to make a long postponed, but highly anticipated, visit to Canyon's of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado. Previous to driving down that way I had sent a couple of e-mails to the park's manager, to ask for advice on rock art sites that I could visit for RockArtBlog. The e-mails were sent roughly three and two weeks ahead of the scheduled visit which I assumed would allow adequate time for her to check out RockArtBlog and respond to me. I pointed out that a number of years ago I had been on the schedule for a rock art field trip to Canyon of the Ancients that was arranged through the monument staff, but I had to miss it when something came up that required my return to Denver. I just wanted to make up for that missed opportunity. Unfortunately, I received no response to either inquiry. This led to a phone call one week before the visit (which was not answered in person) where I left a message on her receiver with my phone number asking her to call me back.

The next day I sent an e-mail to the BLM press office and they forwarded it to the monument to be answered. I then received an e-mail which essentially claimed that there was little rock art to see, anyway, and all of the sites were closed except one called Painted Hand Pueblo which has some painted handprints. Now I have, in the past, seen rock art sites in Mancos Canyon, and also in Hovenweep which is immediately adjacent to Canyons of the Ancients, but I was asked to believe that this large area in the most heavily petroglyphed/pictographed part of the state has virtually no rock art.

On Sunday, September 24, we went to the Anasazi Heritage Center outside of Mancos, Colorado, which serves as the visitor center for Canyons of the Ancients. I inquired with a very nice young lady behind the desk who confirmed that they have thousands of rock art sites, and yes, they are all closed, with no reason given. I asked about Painted Hand Pueblo which I was told I could visit and she said that it is now closed too. She gave me a map to Newspaper Rock near Monticello, Utah.

Now, I don't claim to be some important and powerful political figure, I am certainly not a wealthy political donor, but I do claim, at some modest level, to have academic credentials in the field of rock art studies, based upon 40 years of passionate studies and analysis in the subject, a number of published papers and many presentations, and nearly 500 columns written on RockArtBlog. All I asked for was a modicum of professional courtesy - I got none (by the way I also asked my congressman to help me - he never responded).

Unfortunately, this brings up many questions about the power of public servants and officials who do not wish to go to the trouble to serve the public. If Canyons of the Ancients is sworn to protect these ancient markings from academic inquiry, what in the world are they keeping them for? Now we hear that oil and gas drilling is being contemplated on National Monuments, but apparently not academic studies. I deeply protest this position, and would like to have an actual response explaining why I do not meet the requirements to qualify for help in this matter.

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A Rebuttal to Steven J. Manning's 'The Fugitive-Pigment Anthropomorphs of Eastern Utah: A Shared Cultural Trait Indicating a Temporal Relationship'

I was recently made aware of a 2003 publication by Steven J. Manning (see references below) in which he speculated upon a type of Fremont petroglyphs found in large numbers over the region of northwestern Colorado, northeastern Utah, and southwestern Wyoming. These are seemingly incomplete anthropomorphs, and Manning devoted 116 pages to the thesis that all of the images had originally been created by partial pecking and also by painting with paints compounded with fugitive pigments.

Manning's thesis is relatively simple but also sweeping: "The existence of fugitive pigments also explains why some anthropomorphs appear to be incomplete. The missing features were once present as painted images, however, since the paint no longer exists, the features also no longer appear to exist." - - - "In eastern Utah, hundreds and possibly thousands of anthropomorphs were created using fugitive pigments and these techniques. These images are unique, and therefore they constitute a unique class." (Manning 2003:63)

In other words the absence of visible pigmentation on a petroglyph proves his thesis, that originally they were painted with fugitive pigments. Here Manning is using a negative to try to prove a positive. In regards to this I doubt that any comprehensive scientific examination has been conducted that indicates that fugitive pigments were ever present in all of Manning's "hundreds and possibly thousands" of examples. Any number of scientific techniques could be applied to determine the absence or presence of chemical compounds that once formed a component of fugitive  pigments.
"Evidence of absence is evidence of any kind that suggests something is missing or that it does not exist. Per the traditional aphorism, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence", positive evidence of this kind is distinct from a lack of evidence or ignorance of that which should have been found already, had it existed. In this regard Irving Copi writes: In some circumstances it can be safely assumed that if a certain event had occurred, evidence of it could be discovered by qualified investigators. In such circumstances it is perfectly reasonable to take the absence of proof of its occurrence as positive proof of its non-occurrence.Copi, Irving, Introduction to Logic (1953), p. 95" (Wikipedia 2016)

"Fugitive Pigment Materials - One likely possibility is that the images were created with organic pigments or dyes, i.e., those from plant sources. These pigments, because of their greater solubility in water, would be more readily removed by erosion than mineral pigments. The creators of these figures may have chosen to use organic pigments instead of the more permanent mineral pigments because vegetable dyes were more readily available than mineral pigment or were available in a greater variety of colors. Rieske (2000) notes that at least 60 plants are used by the Hopi and Navajo to create dyes for various uses." (Manning 2003:63)

In attributing the disappearance of these pigments solely to the effects of rain (in a desert) Manning seems to have totally missed the more destructive effects of light on organic pigments. Museum artifact and exhibit personnel have long known that high levels of light exhibit a deleterious effect upon the integrity of organic materials, especially the ultraviolet component of the spectrum which fades colors and can break down the molecular structure of fugitive pigments. The elements of the fugitive paint could perhaps be detected with x-ray fluorescence spectrometry and settle this question once and for all. (Note: I missed mentioning this process myself in my 1987 paper so I can claim no high ground for overlooking this important factor in the disappearance of fugitive pigments).

Indeed, there are many instances of anthropomorphic figures in northeastern Utah that combine pecking and pigments. A large number of these are to be found at Cub Creek, the subject of my paper Post-Classic Vernal Abstraction: The Evolution of a Unique Style in Late Fremont Rock Art in Dinosaur National Monument, Utah. (Faris 1987)

Had Manning actually read my material he would have seen this discussion of the characteristics of style as it relates to the Cub Creek figures. "All of the figures in this study are petroglyphs, carved into the rock, and display varying degrees of finish. Some are rather carefully incised and others are the result of crude battering. Additionally, traces of paint remaining on a few figures indicate that at least some of them were painted as well as carved into the rock. The extent of the original use of paint can no longer be determined because erosion has removed all but isolated fragments of it. In any case, as we are investigating stylistic evolution, not trying to reconstruct the original appearance of the figures, we can be satisfied with the clues remaining to us. As style defines the manner of portrayal of an image it is, in effect, an outward manifestation of the artist' attitude toward how the image should appear and is generally a constant throughout the process of producing the image. The result is that stylistic differences can be recognized even in fragments of a work of art. A common example of this is the procedure of classifying ceramics on the basis of the design on broken shards where a few lines suffice to identify the style and thus its provenance. Whether the figures with which we (are) concerned are completely carved, or the remaining carved portion represents only the basis framework that was finished with painted details, the stylistic differences are readily apparent in the varying stages of completeness the care of the finish, the overall form and the use of line and area." (Faris 1987:29) Notice, I recorded the presence of paint in some of the images and inferred its use in other images which no longer display remaining paint.

"Other sets of images with superimposition verify this observation. These instances demonstrate the existence of a developmental sequence in the creation of these images This succession appears to have progressed from
painted anthropomorphs made entirely of fugitive pigment, to fugitive-pigment anthropomorphs with a few pecked features, to fugitive pigment
anthropomorphs with elaborately pecked-out features. The elaborate anthropomorphs created at the end of the developmental sequence include nearly full-body outlines. One of the characteristics of these later images
is that hands and forearms are not outlined." (Manning 2003:63)

This is where he begins to dispute my sequence of the creation of anthropomorphs which I stated begin as fully pecked anthropomorphs of the Classic Vernal Style and progressively abstract with the sequence at Cub Creek in Dinosaur National Monument.

He is also proposing that this covers a much vaster area. I did not state that my thesis applied to all rock art from this period throughout the region, I was, in fact, referring only to the anthropomorphs at the Cub Creek site, a few dozen at best (although it is possible that this process could be detected in other areas as well). You begin to run into trouble when you apply the same assumptions to "hundreds or possibly thousands" of examples from peoples distributed over a very large area.

Additionally, I based portions of my study on the Robert Jordon Burton's 1971 Master's thesis: The Pictographs and Petroglyphs of Dinosaur National Monument.

"In chronological sequence Burton found that the abstracted Cub Creek anthropomorphs were generally the latest Fremont images to be found in the monument and that the group displayed the characteristics of the Classical Vernal Style (which) preceded them in date of origin. He assumed that they date from within the timespan of ca. A.D. 1000 to A.D.1150 plus or minus 50 years established by Breternitz (1965:142, 1970: 162-163) for Fremont occupation of Dinosaur National Monument. Recognizing that major changes in the style of portraying anthropomorphs at a relatively rapid rate Burton (1971) inferred a "cultural florescence" For the Fremont people in Dinosaur National Monument.
The development of the Classic Vernal Style probably was spurred by the introduction of agriculture to the area and the development of the Uintah Fremont culture. A major change from the monumental and naturalistic tendencies of the Classic Vernal Style would imply a corresponding technological and cultural change in that society (Burton's cultural florescence). In this case the major cultural change that led to the development of this abstracted variation of the Classic Vernal Style anthropomorphs was probably the abandonment of agriculture and a return to the hunter/gatherer mode of existence. Burton reports an absence of long-term occupation sites in the Cub Creek area dating from the later Fremont period and suggested that the abstracted anthropomorphs were thus produced by a mobile rather than a sedentary culture. He additionally points out that the later simplified and abstracted figures probably required less time and effort to produce and would thus seem more suited to people who were just passing through rather than living nearby on a permanent basis."  (Faris 1987:29-30)

Burton's comments about the stylistic and cultural change happening concurrently parallel examples from Art History in which realistic art styles are progressively abstracted by cultural changes occurring over time. The best known example would probably be the progression, beginning in the late 18th and early 19th century in Western art, of Neo-classicism evolving through Romanticism to Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism and Post-Impressionism, ending up as the so-called Abstract art of the mid-20th century. As the culture changes over time the old standards of stylistic convention become increasingly irrelevant and the art begins to change to suit new attitudes and beliefs.

"Ferris (1987, 1989) likewise failed to understand that these, and other images, were once painted with fugitive pigment. For example, he  stated, "These figures are frontal views of the human torso, lacking such appendages as arms, legs, and genitals, and consisting of such elements such as eyes, mouth, necklace, belt etc." (Ferris 1989:53). Furthermore, he stated: "These figures, are in fact, simplified and abstracted versions of the Classic Vernal Style anthropomorphs." (Ferris 1989:53). Despite Ferris' certainty, in reality, these images are, or were, fully constructed stylized human figures, likely with all the normally associated appendages. The "abstractions" are simply the pecked-out features of fugitive pigment
anthropomorphs. Likely, the most significant of Ferris' conclusions appear in the following statement. The progression of figure abstractions carved into the cliff at Cub Creek represents a sequence of step-by-step simplifications, beginning with the typical Fremont anthropomorph and preceding serially through progressively abstracted versions. The elements of each figure consist of a limited number of details of body, clothing and adornment such as facial features, necklace and ear pendants and belt or sash. These elements are combined into figure portrayals in much the same way that words as parts of speech are combined into sentences. In the manner of a poet who seeks artistic effect by varying the sequences of the works, the Fremont artists of Cub Creek experimented with varying arrangements of the elements that make up the figure. With time, these figure portrayals evolved from their original type to the final stage, which is represented by the triple figure (figure 6) (Ferris 1989: 53). [Ferris' Figure 6 is printed upside-down in this reference, see Figure 25B here] Ferris' sequence is exactly the opposite of what superimposition indicates actually occurred. The anthropomorphs progressed from no pecked-out features, to simple pecked-out features, to elaborate pecked-out features. So rather than progressing from complex forms to less simplified abstract forms, the sequence was from simple forms to complex forms, which is what anthropological studies indicate usually happens in progressive series. In reality then, the anthropomorphs shown in Figure 25B are likely near the middle of the developmental or cultural sequence, not at the end. Ferris' other conclusions in the paragraph above are therefore also incorrect." (Manning 2003:81-82)

Had Manning actually read my 1987 publication instead of just adding it into his bibliography to pad his references he would have seen the following where I acknowledge the presence of paint on the figures.
"Additionally, traces of paint remaining on a few figures indicate that at least some of them were painted as well as carved into the rock. The extent of the original use of paint can no longer be determined because erosion has removed all but isolated fragments of it." (Faris 1987:29) And again: "Whether the figures with which we (are) concerned are completely carved, or the remaining carved portion represents only the basis framework that was finished with painted details, the stylistic differences are readily apparent in the varying stages of completeness the care of the finish, the overall form and the use of line and area." (Faris 1987:29)

I have been unable to find in Manning's paper any evidence backing up his claims that the figure progression began with the simple and proceeded to the complex, other than the one superimposed pair of figures at Cub Creek. He apparently bases his whole rebuttal on a pair of superimposed figures that he (p. 80 and 81) has decided represent differing time periods and that the one he identifies as older is the simpler example and the newer one is more complex and complete. "Figure 29 is also from Cub Creek. This is another rare image. There are two fugitive pigment anthropomorphs in the photograph. One is superimposed over the other, which in itself is not rare; however, in this instance, the last image created is not pecked as nearly all of them are; it is entirely abraded. The drawings in Figure 29 depict the two different images. Obviously something important occurred here." (Manning :80-81)

Superimposition of petroglyphs is a tricky thing and I have known many examples of superimposed images where original assumptions about the order in which they were created proved wrong under careful scrutiny. Even assuming that Manning is correct in this assumption, taking this then as a rule that can be applied to his "hundreds and possibly thousands of anthropomorphs" is taking a huge leap. What if the order is actually the opposite? Could not the image that Manning is assuming came first - the pecked image - actually have been done last? They could even have been done in the order he assumes without overturning my assumptions. Perhaps the crude image is the worst thing that an accomplished earlier artist created and the more sophisticated image which Manning states overlies it is the greatest thing that the generally more inferior later artist created.

Without obvious differences in patina for both images (and Manning makes no mention of this) I will have to reserve my right to disagree. Remember, my theory was based on the fact that these Cub Creek anthropomorphs were created during a period of cultural decline for the Fremont people of the area and archaeological evidence suggests that they were abandoning the area at the end of the period. Cultural decline and abandonment seldom lead to the kind of increasingly sophisticated artistic development that Manning seems to believe is represented by his reversal of my proposed order of the creation of the anthropomorphs at Cub Creek

Finally, in an attempt to undermine my credibility further Manning notes that one of the illustrations in my 1989 publication that he quoted from was printed upside down (thereby implying that I did not know the correct orientation of the petroglyphs). This is indeed the case. I had made numerous requests to the editors of that book for a chance to proofread my chapter but I was not given an opportunity. The misprinting of that illustration was solely on them, and indeed, had Manning read the material he cites he would have seen that in my 1987 publication that particular petroglyph group was shown correctly. The 1989 publication is also the source of Manning's misspelling of my name, the editors of the 1989 publication inexplicably spelled it "Ferris" although two of the three knew me personally. Indeed, Manning also applies the incorrect spelling of my name to my 1987 paper (which did have my name spelled correctly) that he also cited, leading me to question whether or not he actually read the material (or understood it).

So, Mr. Manning, whether my conclusions are "incorrect" or not will be decided in the future by scientific studies, not by your overblown claims and assumptions.

(Note: I have omitted a few secondary references referred to in quotations above.)

Burton, Robert Jordon
1971 The Pictographs and Petroglyphs of Dinosaur National Monument, Master's Thesis, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Faris, Peter
1987 Post-Classic Vernal Abstraction: The Evolution of a Unique Style in Late Fremont Rock Art in Dinosaur National Monument, Utah, p. 28-41, Southwestern Lore, Vol. 53, No. 1, March 1987.

Faris, Peter (misspelled as Ferris in the original publication)
1989 Aspects of Design in Uinta and San Rafael Fremont Rock Art, pages 47-57, Rock Art of the Western Canyons, edited by Jane S. Day, Paul D. Friedman, and Marcia J. Tate, Colorado Archaeological Society Memoir Number 3, Denver Museum of National History and Colorado Archaeological Society. Johnson Publishing, Boulder, Colorado.

Manning, Steven J.
2003 The Fugitive-Pigment Anthropomorphs of Eastern Utah: A Shared Cultural Trait Indication a Temporal Relationship, Utah Rock Art, Volume 23, p. 61-177.


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