Portable rock art carvings found in Missouri

Artsology editor's note: the subject line of the email from Steve M. said: "rock carvings, Native American early man!" He continued to write me, stating "here are some of them. There is one in there that was found in the same county in Missouri where they found remains of mastodons." There was no further explanation of the pictures from Steve, but I will add some of my own research based on this intriguing message.

I found this article which explains that an ancient tooth belonging to a mastodon dating some 10,000 years ago was found in a Missouri river by a teen explorer. And here's another story about the "Kimmswick Site," also in Missouri, which showed evidence of hunting and/or man-mastodon interaction. So, if one agrees with Steve that any of these rock art pieces possible refer to a mastodon, might these carved rocks also be close to 10,000 years old? I will leave it up to you to form your own opinions, check out Steve's pictures of his finds below.

If this first one is indeed a reference to a mastodon, it's interesting that it would be such a small representation of such a massive animal.

small carved animal figure perhaps a mastodon

small carved animal figure rock art

Same rock art piece as above, but a second picture with better light and without the tape measure.

three small rock art figures found in Missouri

Three small portable rock art figures, found in Missouri. I can see the suggestion of an animal on the right side, and the rock on the left has a very curious, smooth surface with deeply etched lines ... it almost looks like a squinting face with a lot of wrinkles, but that's just my own opinion based on my personal observations.

Here's another pair of portable rock art pieces sent by Steve; he didn't provide any comments on these specifically, but I'll share my own observations: below left, it strikes me as having a resemblance to a bird's head, perhaps a hawk? (see this as a comparison). The image below right is a little more vague to me, although I do see what looks like the suggestion of eye sockets, a nose (with a nostril), and a line extending down to what could be considered a chin. Do you see this?

rock art that looks like an animal head

rock art that appears to have carved eye sockets

Here's the last pair of photos of Steve's portable rock art pieces that he found in Missouri. Below left is another view of the bird-like head we saw above, next to a tape measure and a second dark stone, that has an usual shape on the top right edge that looks like it had to have been manipulated (carved) by human hand ... but what does this visually suggest to you? In the second picture of this dark stone, below right, I see on the left side something that looks like a face - there's two eye sockets, a nose, and a mouth, and with what appears to be massive hunched shoulders, it gives me a visual association with a gorilla; however, the unusual carved shape on its back doesn't make sense in this context - what is that shape supposed to be? Or am I seeing this all wrong and you see something else?

two portable rock art pieces

rock art that has a strange carved shape

I'll reiterate that these comments are my own observations and not any formal academic analysis. I thank Steve for sharing these interesting finds, and if you have any comments or feedback that you'd like to share regarding these images, send me an email with the subject line "Steve's Rock Art."

Return to the main Rock Art Gallery page, or check out our Intro to Portable Rock Art here.

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