Creature Emerging From a Mouth

("Atemgeburt")

Day's Knob Site (33GU218)

 
This motif is one of the most important and frequently appearing of several components of Primal Imagery that, in 2003, this author quickly identified in the Figure Stones, along with creatures emerging from the belly or (egg/birth-like) from the posterior, and one creature (typically a bird) atop the head of another.  It seems possibly a theme of rebirth or regeneration.  After seeing it repeatedly at 33GU218, this author was pleasantly surprised to find that the theme had earlier been recognized in Germany (notably by Dr. Elisabeth Neumann-Gundrum) in megaliths, and called "Atemgeburt", literally "breath birth". 

 

 

Below, a few of many from 33GU218:

 

Limestone Carving - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

Limestone

 

Sandstone Carving - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

Sandstone

Sandstone Carving - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

Sandstone

Limestone

Sandstone

Limestone

Limestone

Hematite

Limestone Carving - Day's Knob Archaeological Site  Limestone Carving - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

Limestone

Bird-Human Figure in Limestone - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

Limestone

 

 

 

A superb example in quartzite, from North Carolina:

 

Carved Face in Quartzite - Terry Deal Find  Carved Face in Quartzite - Terry Deal Find

Note the emerging face explicitly detailed on the tongue.

Find by Terry Deal, in direct context with temporally diagnostic Early to Middle Archaic Period projectile points.
 

 

 

A fine example from Virginia, in a rock of conjoined limestone and sandstone:

 

(Photo from NVCASV Newsletter)

Note the emerging face (right profile) on lighter-colored material apparently exposed by chipping from the sandstone.

 Frederick County, find by Adam Arkfeld and amateur archaeologist Jack Hranicky.

(Imagery unnoticed, but a nice find.)

 

 

 

The Great Serpent Mound

Great Serpent Mound, OhioGreat Serpent Mound, Ohio

Above, Ohio's Great Serpent Mound, recently more accurately radiocarbon dated to the Adena (Early Woodland) Period, roughly 300 BC.  The image is popularly interpreted as a snake swallowing an egg, but this author has long been proposing that the "egg" is exiting the serpent's mouth, consistent with the quite ancient motif of one creature emerging from the mouth of another.

Consider the Mayan "Vision Serpent", from whose mouth the head of a spirit or ancestor emerges:

 
And there is this serpent sculpture in a Mayan ball court, a warrior's head emerging from its mouth:

 
Below, F. W. Putnam's 1888 photo of the sandstone protuberance directly below and in front of the Serpent's mouth and the "egg", here looking very much like an emerging creature:

The Great Serpent Mound Site - LiDAR Image

Above, an aerial LiDAR image of the site.  The yellow arrow on the left indicates the location of the sandstone figure in the cliff, above which the serpent is clearly visible.

Early in 2013 this author noted the zoomorphic appearance of the raised landform itself, with the serpent across its head and aligned to its mouth.  Pareidolia, certainly, but something of which the Adena likely would have been aware just from walking on it.  And of course the terrain creature's head looks into the summer solstice sunset, as does the serpent's.

(Click here to see further zoo-anthropomorphic artifact finds from the Serpent Mound.)

 

 

The image of one creature (spirit?) emerging from the mouth of another  appears in many parts of the world.  It is easy to see in the clearly sculpted statues at San Agustin, Colombia (below), and possibly reflected in the ritual vomiting of shamans in the Peruvian Amazon south of there.

(Picture from http://rupestreweb.tripod.com/motif.html, web page of Harry A. Marriner)

In this context, it is interesting to consider a Caddo ritual reported by early and understandably appalled European explorers in North America.  This was the rapid consumption of a hot liquid made from the yaupon plant, causing what might be characterized as projectile vomiting.

 

The motif appears consistently in very old European lithic artifacts, as in this small carving on a rock found near the summit of Ben Lawers, a mountain in Scotland's central highlands.  (Figure facing left.)
 
From deep within glacial till in northern Germany there is this example among Ursel Benekendorff's many Paleolithic finds: 

Figure Stone - Germany, Ursel Benekendorff Find

 

Apparently a variation on this theme persisted in religious art into the Middle Ages, as shown in this illustration from Hartmann Schedel's Nürnberger Weltchronik of 1493:

 
Strangely enough, the image of one creature emerging from the mouth of another is also quite apparent in Australian sandstone artifacts retrieved by this author in the bushland of new South Wales:

Australian Sandstone Artifact    Australian Sandstone Artifact

(Note also, in the figure on the right, the Primal Image of one eye open, one eye closed.)
 

Below:  This theme appears repeatedly in traditional Inuit/Yupik masks and other imagery, here with emerging birds.

   

 

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