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Friday, 16 November 2012

Sarsen faces - stone 54

From Lloyd:

I thank Terence Meaden for his comments; this feature on the W side of Stone 054 has been incorporated in the model. When having to think what this face would have looked like when building the original Stonehenge, I referred to the carvings found on Easter Island and used these as a guide.


Jon Morris said...

Dead interesting interpretation of the early features of the T shapes!

However, for the type of surfaces at Stonehenge, it's somewhat unlikely that the T shape could have been generated from a "normal" looking nose and mouth: Wearing just does not occur like that. When two faces (as at Stonehenge) have the same features generated after wearing, it becomes a virtual certainty that, if the T shape we see now was meant to be intentional, it was also meant to be shaped as a T.

The T shape on 54 is also a little bit higher than shown on the models

Lloyd said...

Thank you for your comment Jon; I must confess, I know nothing about archaeology, and when I was trying to imagine what the stone could have looked like, I was thinking as a ‘modeller’. Just a passing thought; if there had been a face, it may have been vandalised sometime later for reasons we do not understand; could this account for the uneven wear. Regarding its position, I had tried to align the shapes according to the photographs I took, so I think there is much room for errors. I am interested though how often “T” shapes are referred to, and wonder if you know where this expression first appeared?

geocur said...

The vast majority of British prehistoric engravings are not representational , when they are it is mainly axes ,daggers and feet . Elsewhere representation is more common ,although it is interesting that Early European figurines whilst having exaggerated features and heads they often don't have faces .
Some examples of engraved human and animal faces ,pre-dating the erection of the sarsens at Stonehenge . Note , there would little problem recognising them for what they represent and could not be considered simulcra .
Scroll through the next and previous in the Smithsonian link .

Lloyd said...

Thank you ‘Geocur’ for your comments; I will follow and consider the information that the links provide.

Jon Morris said...

I know nothing about archaeology either Lloyd!

The thing about the T is that there are two of them. If they were vandalised, then both were vandalised identically.

If the bottom of the T represented the bottom of a nose, then you might expect second lateral extrusions below both of the Ts. But there are none.

For most wearing, depressions in surfaces tend to survive better than protrusions: So if instead there was a depression just above the base of the T, representing the Chief's top lip, the wearing pattern would not have resulted in the nose and the lip being joined as a protrusion.

As far as I know, T shaped carvings are very specific to Stonehenge. Their remains exist in what is interpreted as 'mushroom' shaped outlines. The vast majority of T shapes are on the outer stones directly to the east of the centre of the monument as well as on the inner stone directly to the south (stone 53). There's one or two other T shapes scattered about.

Geocur or Terry Meaden are the ones to ask: They know way more about this sort of thing than I do.

Lloyd said...

Thank you Jon for your detailed explanation on ‘T’ shapes; through this ‘blog’ I am now gaining a better understanding on information concerning Stonehenge which, gives me a sounder foundation on which to do further research.

Geocur said...

I think we should distinguish between the engraving and dressing .
1) the axe head engravings which are found on the lower reaches of the uprights i.e. below 2m , the shape is not a T but the “head “ is crescentic like the BA axe heads they probably represent , the largest measure 36cm x 28 , most are shallow engravings and not in relief , there multiple examples on some surfaces and there are other examples in Britain of similar engravings .
2)The “real T's “ are a result of coarse dressing not engraving , the transverse ridges do not curve they are straight , the ridges can measure up to 1.6m in length (stone 59a ) are found above the height of the axe engravings , the ridges are in relief , they are no multiples and as far as I know , despite dressing being found in some megaliths elsewhere , I can't think of any obvious ridged examples .

Jon Morris said...

I agree George: There's two different sets which are in danger of being confused.

The scans of the carvings (indented) all appear crescentic on the top surface. However, the bottom surface of the head of the 'mushrooms' is a mixture of crescentic and straight.

The dressings, or relief carvings (depending on your perspective) are known to have straight (but not perfectly horizontal) bottom surfaces on the top bar of the T: Photographs in sunlight only capture shadow well.

However, the photographs I have of this feature (taken in cloudy weather) appear to indicate that a slight crescentic surface may also exist to the top of the T shape on stone 54.

Unfortunately, the feature is a bit too high to inspect.