Friday, June 29, 2012

"Pair of Eyes or Pareidolia?"

"It is not that the stone paleoart does not exist, it is that we have not known what to look for."
Ken Johnston

"There seems to be a limiting fear among archaeologists of being accused of pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon of inferring meaning from random sensory data, to the extent they will infer no meaning on objects or deny its possibility.
Examples of visual pareidolia are seeing
 a dog in the clouds,
 a human face on the surface of Mars,
 a virgin mother on a grilled-cheese sandwich,

a lion head on a twelve pound block of flint with two eye sockets, ear, nose, mouth, two drilled holes, “whisker holes” on snout, stands upright in correct viewing orientation on its flat base, and was found in context with other zoomorphic sculptures and which admittedly “looks just like a lion” according to a lithics analyst at a prominent U.S. lab. I mention the “lion head,” my real-life example, tongue-in-cheek, because it seems archaeology needs to (figuratively) come to understand the difference between the clouds, Mars, a sandwich and a possible artifact. Such interpretation is precisely the job, and the duty, of the archaeological investigator." ~ Ken Johnston, avocational archaeologist (publisher)

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