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Author Topic: Epic carving on fossil bone found in Vero Beach  (Read 6199 times)
Charlie Hatchett
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« on: June 04, 2009, 03:19:18 PM »

In what a top Florida anthropologist is calling “the oldest, most spectacular and rare work of art in the Americas,” an amateur Vero Beach fossil hunter has found an ancient bone etched with a clear image of a walking mammoth or mastodon.

http://www.verobeach32963.com/news/News060409/060409_BoneCarvingFind.htm
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Jacques Cinq-Mars
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2009, 10:59:44 PM »

Charlie & al.,

Here is a somewhat insignificant addition to the "Vero Beach mammoth carving" story. By the way, the object in question should be properly called an "engraving" and compared to similar specimens from Europe. I guess we'll all have to wait for more than just media inflated speculations and that the partisans o of a "Solutrean Solution" will not get too excited by this story.

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/jun/05/bone-appears-to-date-human-presence-in-treasure/

Jacques
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Charlie Hatchett
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2009, 05:16:14 PM »

Thanks Jacques.

The link you provided has bigger images.

Charlie
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Jacques Cinq-Mars
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2009, 09:56:12 PM »

You're welcome.

By the way, I would like to remind all, that future contributions dealing with prehistoric art issues (such as the present one) should be directed at the "Parietal & Mobiliary Art" board.

Thanks,

Jacques
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Charlie Hatchett
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2009, 12:12:25 PM »

Ahhhh, yes. That is a more approriate category.

Should you go ahead and move this thread there?

Charlie
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trehinp
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2009, 03:40:16 AM »

Thanks Charlie and Jacques,

This beautiful artefact, which so far seems to be genuine, needs a lot more scrutiny. While it may indeed be dated 12 to 13 KY BP, it could have been transported on a Florida beach either by a Palaeolithic tribe as a cult object or much later on by an early American "founding Fathers" a few centuries ago in his/her " home town treasures".

This is just to try to offer possible refutations but there are great probabilities that the engraving found on Vero Beach was indeed made by a local prehistoric artist. Actually, if it is indeed what the authors said it is, having Palaeolithic realistic Art in America would add more credibility to my hypothesis concerning early art creation. So the above comments are by no means trying to have a Euro centrist perception of Palaeolithic art.

If we take as a credible hypothesis that this Vero Beach engraving was produced by American Homo Sapiens Sapiens artist, this discovery has at least two consequences on our knowledge of Palaeolithic in America and in the world.

1/ It provides new information about the Palaeolithic occupation of the American continent by homo sapiens sapiens. I won't comment on that part as this is a domain that I don't know anything about...

2/ It shows that a form of very realistic art also appeared in North America during the Palaeolithic period, just as in the Franco Cantabrian area, in Southern Italy, in Egypt (Qurta) and in some other African places.

I find this American engraving truly remarkable. The etching technique requires a tremendous control of the hand as well as a perfect planning of the series of groves to be made. The attitude of the mammoth/mastodon is perfectly natural, demonstrating a great sense of observation.

This apparition of "realistic" art at about the same period in multiple places in the World, using very similar styles, poses several questions about this art in itself. Why would artists who had no means of communication use similar styles and subjects? The other question is why after having had such sophisticated art techniques, homo sapiens sapiens art evolved to a much more schematic representation style during the Neolithic period?

I think that this Vero Beach discovery, if it is really confirmed as originating from a local artist, will create as much turmoil in the origins of American Palaeolithic occupation as in the domain of Palaeolithic art spreading in the world.   

Yours.

Paul
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Paul Trehin
Charlie Hatchett
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2009, 11:32:29 AM »

Jacques, Paul, and whoever else that may be lurking,

Have you ever seen the engraved mastodon bone recovered by Juan Armenta in the Valsequillo Reservoir region (just south of Puebla, Mexico):

http://cayman.globat.com/~bandstexas.com/Engraved%20mastodon%20bone.jpg

http://cayman.globat.com/~bandstexas.com/Armentas%20drawing%20of%20engraved%20bone.jpg

http://cayman.globat.com/~bandstexas.com/Rync.jpg

http://cayman.globat.com/~bandstexas.com/Smilodon2.jpg

http://cayman.globat.com/~bandstexas.com/Mammoth.jpg


Permission granted by Virginia Steen-McIntyre and the Armenta family to reproduce all images.


Charlie
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trehinp
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2009, 05:46:06 PM »

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for these beautiful images.

I have looked attentively to all of them in particular those which allowed zooming on some details. I have also found another PDF document with one picture providing invividual animal drawings artist interpretations, that makes the reading a little easier...Click here for more

As far as I can tel, as beautiful as they may be, those engravings have a very different style than that of Vero Beach. In particular they don't look alike any of the known highly realistic engravings found elsewhere in Europe and Africa while the Vero Beach engraving is quite similar to many of these European realistic engravings.

Concerning the dating of this Valsequillo artefact, not being a specialist of America Palaeoanthropology, I can't figure which dates to believe given the controversies that seem to surround this subject.

It would be important to know if this engraving dates from the Aurignacian or more like the Vero Beach one of the Magdalenian, using here the periods as described for European Palaeolithic art (sorry if this is not the appropriate way to name these periods for American prehistoric art...)

Any reliable sources?

I would be very interested since this Valsequillo engraving is also challenging some analysis of prehistoric art.

Thanks

Paul
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Paul Trehin
Charlie Hatchett
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2009, 10:05:10 PM »

”…As far as I can tel, as beautiful as they may be, those engravings have a very different style than that of Vero Beach. In particular they don't look alike any of the known highly realistic engravings found elsewhere in Europe and Africa while the Vero Beach engraving is quite similar to many of these European realistic engravings…”

Agreed. The engravings from Valsequillo don’t come close to portraying the realism of the Vero Beach specimen: the degree of three dimensional space; motion, etc…

”…Concerning the dating of this Valsequillo artefact, not being a specialist of America Palaeoanthropology, I can't figure which dates to believe given the controversies that seem to surround this subject…”

The main controversy that exists now is whether the artifact bearing beds are contained in strata that have been inset more recently than the dated strata. Mike Waters, with Center for the Study of the First Americans and Texas A&M, is currently working on this hypothesis. VanLandingham’s biostratigraphical analyses are at odds with this hypothesis. However, Waters has not yet reported on his analyses. I’m keeping an open mind and waiting to see what he has.

”…It would be important to know if this engraving dates from the Aurignacian or more like the Vero Beach one of the Magdalenian, using here the periods as described for European Palaeolithic art (sorry if this is not the appropriate way to name these periods for American prehistoric art...)…”

According to Armenta, the engraving was recovered from strata named Tetela 1. U-series dating conducted by Chuck Naeser (USGS) on the Tetela 1 indicated an age range of 600kya +/- 340ka. Sam VanLandingham’s biostratigraphy analyses indicate the Tetela 1 strata are pre-Wisconsin (greater than ca. 80kya). As you can tell, these are broad strokes but they do give minimum and maximum ages. The low-end of Naeser’s range is concordant with:

1. Barney Szabo’s (USGS) U-series dating of the stone artifact bearing beds- ca. 245kya for the bifacial bearing beds and ca. 280kya for the unifacial bearing beds.

2. Naeser’s own dating of the stone artifact bearing beds- 370kya +/- 200ka.

3. Ken Farley’s (Caltech) U-series dating of the stone artifact bearing beds- 400-500kya.

4. Ray Donelick’s (University of Idaho at the time) U-series dating of the stone artifact bearing beds- no younger than 250kya.

5. VanLandingham’s biostratigraphical analyses of the stone artifact bearing beds- no younger than 80kya and no older than ca. 430kya.

6. Recent USGS magnetic alignment analyses- no reverse polarity- therefore no older than ca. 700kya.

”Any reliable sources?”

I can give you these for now:

---------- VanLandingham, S.L., in press, Use of diatoms in determining age and paleoenvironment of the Valsequillo (Hueyatlaco) early man site, Puebla, Mexico, with corroboration by Chrysophta cysts for a maximum Yarmouthian (430,000 - 500,000 yr BP) age of the artifacts, International Chrysophyte Symposium volume.

----------, 2009, Use of diatom biostratigraphy in determining a minimum (Sangamonian = 80,000--ca. 220,000 yr. BP) and a maximum (Illinoian = 220,000--430,000 yr. BP) age for the Hueyatlaco artifacts, Puebla, Mexico. Nova Hedwigia, Beiheft 135, p. 15-36.

----------, 2008, Yarmouthian (430,000 - 500,000 yr BP) chrysophyte cyst assemblages aid in corroborating a maximum Illinoian (ca. 220,000 - 430,000 yr BP) age for the artifacts at the Hueyatlaco site, Puebla, Mexico (abs.), 7th International Chrysophyte Symposium, Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Ave., New London, Connecticut, June 22-26, 2008, Program (with abstracts) Abstract: Bona fide artifacts have been found in situ in sedimentary deposits which, by various reputable means (including fossil cysts), have been demonstrated to be older than the Last Ice Age, but most American archaeologists disagree. No other archaeological site in the world is known to be associated with such highly significant age and environmentally diagnostic cyst/diatom evidence as Hueyatlaco. Two diagnostic Yarmouthian (430,000 - 500,000 yr BP) cyst assemblages (in samples VL2149 and VL2316) occur in a bed (Unit J) which is conformably below (and older) than the lowermost artifact-bearing bed (Unit I) at the Hueyatlaco archaeological site. And these two samples correlate with a third diagnostic Yarmouthian sample (68M288=VL2243) from a core 7 km NNW at Rancho Batan. The extinctions and earliest known first occurrences of the 26 extant and 8 extinct cyst taxa in the three samples (with a minimum 430,000 yr BP Yarmouthian age) corroborate a maximum of 430,000 yr BP age for the Hueyatlaco artifacts which previously was established by means of cyst/diatom assemblages with a maximum age of Illinoian (220,000 - 430,000 yr BP) in Unit I.

----------, 2006, Diatom evidence for autochthonous artifact deposition in the Valsequillo region, Puebla, Mexico during the Sangamonian (sensu lato = 80,000 to ca 220,000 yr BP and Illinoian (220,000 to 430,000 yr BP). J. Paleolimnol, 36, 101-116.

----------, 2004, Corroboration of Sangamonian age of artifacts from the Valsequillo region, Puebla, Mexico by means of diatom biostratigraphy. micropaleontology, 50:4, 313-342.

----------, 2002, Corroboration of Sangamonian Interglacial age artifacts at the Valsequillo archaeological area, Puebla, Mexico, by means of paleoecology and biostratigraphy of Chrysophyta cysts. Transactions of the 37th Regional Archaeological Symposium for Southern New Mexico and West Texas -- Southwestern Federation of Archaeological Societies Annual Meeting, April 6-7, 2001, Iraan, Texas, pp. 1-14.

----------, 2000, Sangamonian Interglacial (Middle Pleistocene) environments of deposition of artifacts at the Valsequillo archaeological site, Puebla, Mexico. Transactions, 35th Regional Archaeological Symposium for Southern New Mexico and Western Texas -- Southwest Federation of Archaeological Societies Annual Meeting, April 9-11, 1999, Midland, Texas, pp. 81-98.

---------, 1981, Geologic evidence for age of deposits at Hueyatlaco archeological site, Vasequillo, MexicoQuaternary Research 16, 1-17Virginia Steen-McIntyre, Roald Fryxell, Harold E. Malde

I don’t read Spanish, so the best I can do:

http://www.valsequilloclassic.net/nuke/armenta/armenta_monograph.pdf

I’ll get with Steen-McIntyre on other published material.


Charlie
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AWSX
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2009, 10:09:30 PM »

Paul,
Chartie has a paper on his site with several examples of engraved bones found in the Americas. In particular the llama sacrum from Tequixquiac and a stylized carving of a mammoth found in Jacob's cave in Missouri.
http://cayman.globat.com/~bandstexas.com/Tequixquiac_Coyote.pdf

The dating on the artifacts from Valsequillo is HIGHLY controversial.

Allan Shumaker
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Charlie Hatchett
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2009, 12:08:44 PM »

Here's another image of the Tequixquiac specimen:

http://cayman.globat.com/~bandstexas.com/Tequixquiac

This image is from Wormington's "Ancient Man in North America- 4th Edition".

Charlie
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Indialantic
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« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2009, 05:19:23 PM »


The  Vero Beach bone  site yielded two "engraved" items in the 1913-16 era. Here is an email I wrote to Archaeology magazine, slightly edited because I got a copy of a Florida State Geological Survey Number 8. This was for information only, I am not interested in a discussion of the validity of Dr. Sellards' find. I offer the information as a means of comparing the new find with an old find, if that old find is still available. I should add that Palm Beach Museum of Natural History listed an item "Author E. H. Sellards, An Engraved Mammoth Tusk from Vero Beach", on page 105 of the Florida Anthropologist, for March-June 1983. Dr. Sellars died in 1961.


1.  I have found a reference to another piece of "tusk" which Dr. E. H. Sellards dug up in 1916 or so.
This is from the same site as the now-famous piece of fossilized bone with the inscribed mammoth or other extinct beast.

Mentioned in Arts of the world,  By Edwin Swift Balch, Eugenia Hargous Macfarlane Balch, 1920, page 255ff

This publication is available on-line at http://books.google.com/books?id=8KENAAAAYAAJ&dq=arts++of+the+world+Edwin+Swift+Balch,+Eugenia+Hargous+Macfarlane+Balch&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=Ziuapc5eYs&sig=7pmVdVdu9ScoP5YjchopOoMJMJo&hl=en&ei=lcIvSsXqFtG_twe175mKDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#PPA257,M1

"How old now is Amerind art? This question is hard to answer. The drawing at Vero is a small,
crude, rather square drawing of a head.f Its square-ness suggests rudimentary Amerind drawing. As the
horizon where it was found is unquestionably Pleistokene it may be that this drawing is Pleistokene and from its squareness the work of a Pleistokene ancestor of the present Amerinds. The fact that the drawing is on a tusk and also the marks with it suggest great age. Still one cannot be sure of anything more than that the drawing was made either by a Pleistokene Amerind or a historic Amerind: its age at present is uncertain."

page 258

"The one drawing at Vero has nothing specially Paleolithic about it and its strongest qualification to be considered Pleistokene is that it is on the tusk of a proboscidian, a most unusual material
to be used by a historic Amerind. It is harder to trace connections between stone implement technic and art technic in America than in Pleistokene Europe; nevertheless, from the information at present accessible, Amerind art seems associated with the Amerind Neolithic."

 page 260

9. "Amerind art apparently is not very old: except possibly the one specimen from Vero, 4,000 B. C. is the extremest date at present discernable: "

2. DISCOVERY OF BONES SHOWING 'MARKINGS WHICH APPARENTLY WERE MADE BY TOOLS
Text-figure 4; pl. 22, figs 1-3

While excavating in stratum No. 2 of the section at Vero in April 1916, the writer obtained a fragment of bird bone and a tip of a proboscidian tusk which have markings which apparently were made by tools. The two specimens were found in

_____

Fig. 4 Sketch showing the section of the canal bank at the place, north bank 370 feet west of the railroad bridge, where the specimens showing the markings were obtained. At this place stratum No. 2 cuts into the shell marl, No. 1, and the fossils were found in a local accumulation of muck near the base of stratum No. 2. Of the bird bones in this locality some were found near the base of the stratum, while others were taken from the sand at a higher level.
---------------------------------

place near the base of stratum No. 2 on the north bank 370 feet west of the bridge and were removed from the bank by Isaac M. Weills. The two specimens are illustrated herwith (plate 22).


The illustration is at plate 22 "Engravings"

http://books.google.com/books?id=UnkuAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:0-IkrcYIXNvLe#PRA1-PA49,M1

 E. H. Sellards: Human remains and Associated Fossils from the
Pleistocene of Florida: "Eighth Annual Report of the Florida State
Geological Survey, 1916."

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