Portable Rock Paintings

33GU218 (Day's Knob)

Rock Painting - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

An anthropomorphic painting (height 18 mm - 0.7") apparently in iron oxide on the edge of a sandstone rock.  For a while, markings like these at this site were not presented as paintings because of the insistence of some archaeologists that they must be the result of natural dripping onto a rock's horizontal surface.  But this figure, quite aside from its compelling appearance of artificiality, is strong evidence to the contrary (confirmed by a professional geologist) since the image is on the vertical broken edge of the rock, perpendicular to its horizontal strata.  The rock, shown in the photo below, was found eroding next to a petroglyph on the same material roughly 60 cm (24") below the current unglaciated and undisturbed terrain surface.


Below:  On one side of the rock (apparently cortical) bearing the painting on its edge, probably natural features have been enhanced, by the same carving technique as on the larger petroglyph, to produce an image strongly sug- gestive of a mastodon head profile looking to the right.
Mastodon(?) Petroglyph - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

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Rock Painting (Bison?) - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

A zoomorphic painting on limestone.  Note how the image conforms to the contour of the rock.  What it might represent is, of course, debatable, but a flying juvenile bison seems  plausible, as suggested by Dr. James Harrod.

Below:  The artifact viewed from above.

Below:  A close-up of the pigmenting material, a hardened paste, in the figure's eye.

To confirm that it is not a natural occurrence, this piece was taken to the labor- atories of NSL Analytical Services in Cleveland, Ohio for compositional analysis by x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy.  It was determined that the dark material is a superficial layer of red ochre (iron-oxide-based pigment) quite distinct from the limestone.  The table below shows the elemental compositions of the lime- stone and of the pigmentation:

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Rock Painting - Day's Knob Archaeological Site
Another painting on limestone, a more or less anthropomorphic figure.  Note the typical artificial incisions on the rock.

Rock Painting - Day's Knob Archaeological Site    Rock Painting - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

These two paintings on limestone seem to present the fairly common theme of the heads of two creatures face to face.

Rock Painting - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

A zoomorphic figure on limestone.


Rock Painting/Carving - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

An interesting combination of painting and carving on limestone.  This surface is from the rock's interior, the piece having been carved from a larger stone.  The opposite site is cortex (natural exterior surface.)  This figure is small - the height of the larger (lower left) painted surface is only 8 mm (0.3").

Horse Figure in Limestone - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

The eye on this limestone horse-like carving was painted with the same material.

Painted Bird Sculpture - Day's Knob Archaeological Site
A painted bird-form limestone.  The theme is not exactly obvious, but may be the characteristic one of zoomorphic figures emerging from other figures.


The reverse side.  Note the distinctly carved beak.


Rock Painting/Carving - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

Combination painting and carving on limestone.  Length 44 mm (1.7").

The iron component in this piece's pigment seems more than just an oxide, being quite dense and having a pronounced attraction to a magnet.


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