A tool with a face – rock art found in southeast Iowa

possible native american tool


I received the following info and pictures from Sheila in Iowa, who sent them to Artsology after seeing our previous posts on rock art. She found this main piece (seen below left) along with the puzzle-like two pieces that fit together very near the big piece (see below right) in a creek in Lockridge, Iowa, which is located in Jefferson County in the southeast corner of the state.

Sheila is hoping that by sharing this, someone out there with some expertise might see it and share some knowledge about this find. It’s especially intriguing to me that she found the two extra pieces – which clearly fit with the main shape – nearby. One can ask, is it just a coincidence that these pieces broke off like this? Or was it intentional? These are very clean breaks and straight lines, which suggests intentional breaks to me. Perhaps cut with a hammer and chisel? But the mystery is, if it was intentional, why did the maker leave the intended piece so close to the parts that they chiseled off?

The shape also brings up an interesting question: is this a face, or a tool? It’s a very strong resemblance to a profile, with a head shape, an eye in the right place, a nose, and of course a charming smile along with the neck. Or is it a tool of some sort, an axe, or something meant for blunt strikes? In that case, the “neck” is of course the handle. Or is it both? A tool with a face? What do you think? If you have any thoughts, please share in the comments section below.

rock face found in Iowa
Two views of a rock, along with pieces that fit together, found in Lockridge, Iowa.

The argument for this being an intentional face takes on an even stronger case when one flips the rock over to see the other side, as you can see two views of this below. It’s quite interesting to me that the other side also has markings that suggest an eye in the perfect place for it to be another “profile” view of a face. The 2nd view of this other side, below right, helps give a view of the thickness of this piece and also shows that perhaps it’s not really sharp enough to be an axe, but could certainly be some sort of hammer or other tool.

possible native american tool
A possible face effigy or Native American tool found in southeast Iowa.

I’m not a rock art or Native American artifact expert, so I’m certainly hope readers of this will offer some thoughts on this fascinating find.

For more on the story about our portable rock art blog posts and the coverage of rock art and face effigies at Artsology, read this page here as a starting point.

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4 thoughts on “A tool with a face – rock art found in southeast Iowa

  1. That’s a birdman totem I believe … nice. I’m in Davis County, Iowa. Hit me up if you want to swap pics or something, I’ve got some like that too, awesome.

    1. I was just admiring your rock art, I see it has a light pattern carved into it as well, it looks like the many effigies I have picked up over the last couple of years surface hunting in Central Iowa. I have been doing a lot of research to see what this serpent type creature is I find carved in all of the rocks I am finding, it resembles the pict carvings. Did you notice the dragon or water type of serpent etched on your effigy?

  2. Based on it’s size, it could be a stemmed club. Any signs of hafting? If I were the intended “prey,” I’d certainly know it was a human being coming at me! And if I were the the one using the club, It would give me an extra dose of mojo!

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