Do you know this face?

The North Carolina Office of State Archaeology has been stumped by an artifact found in a field near Newton Grove, North Carolina, and is asking for help in identifying it. The sandstone sculpture was discovered by Tom Giddens while ploughing his field. He moved the slab to the side and kept on ploughing.

When he was done, he turned the stone over and saw that it had a face carved on the front. He alerted the Office of State Archaeology to his discovery.

“It is definitely a rare find, which is why we presently don’t know how old it is or who made it. It is made of sandstone, which is of medium hardness and therefore does not require specialized tools to carve,” [Assistant State Archaeologist Mary Beth] Fitts said of the sculpture.

The piece is large at 22.2 x 15.75 inches and appears to have some carving on the back as well as the face on the front. There’s a line along the bottom side that seems to define a chin.

Archaeologists are hoping that someone out there knows of a comparable artifact. A similar piece might shed light on when this one was carved and by whom. In aid of that, the NC Office of State Archaeology has created and shared a 3D model of the sculpture.

If this congenial fellow looks familiar, let the Office of State Archaeology know on their Facebook page or via email.

8 thoughts on “Do you know this face?

  1. I reckon “2 ft. long and 1.5 ft” vs. “22.2 x 15.75 inch” would result in something like ’60cm x 42cm’. Hidden on the JavaScript infested linked page, I unearthed a picture of the ‘face on the front’, but none whatsoever of the ‘carvings on the back’.

    The mustached piece itself seems to old, when the fugitive qualities of sand stone are left aside. Buried in the ground, however, it may have happily survived. To me, it appears to be a European face. There are similarities to the ‘Mšecké Žehrovice Head’ or Scandinavian carvings, but my guess would be –if genuine– that the piece is early modern.

    No explanation I have, on what it may be, nor what it was used for, or why. Is there any more?

    Sketchfab uses WebGL ‘To display 3D content in real-time’.

    “Most historians do not believe the myth of the Croatan Indians in North Carolina. No records exist of any English settlement inland of the North Carolina coast prior to 1703, when John Lawson explored the inner region of the territory. It was claimed that Lawson had come across Native Americans who were tilling the land in the English style, speaking an antiquated English, having gray and blue eyes, and wanting Lawson to teach them how to ‘speak from a book’ as their forefathers did. Mainline historians have found no evidence that any Europeans survived from Roanoke Island.”so maybe there is a relative buried underneath?!? 😉

  2. Well, if you use the 3D ‘video’ thingy at the bottom of this article, you can rotate the stone to view the back. I would say that the back shows the hairstyle, bunched at the bottom.

  3. Looks exactly, and I mean exactly, like a doorstop that was in my grandparents home in western NC. One of my cousins has it now I believe.

  4. Will you be letting the Office of State Archeology know? It would be really interesting to see the two together.

  5. Trevor,
    No, I doubt they would be interested although who knows? My mother made it in art class at UNC in about 1942. Maybe this one came from the same class.

  6. I am a little bit late to the party, but I didn’t have anything to contribute at the time of your post. Today, I have spotted a VERY similar face online. The one that I spotted looks very similar but is made out of wood. If you’re interested, have a look at an Instagram account called studio_johnvolleman

    He posted a picture of a very similar face on March 2, and says: “This wooden Egyptian Ptolemaic funerary mask (323 B.C. – 30 B.C.) is almost a modern sculpture.”

    I know that it seems to be a little bit of a stretch, but the faces are so similar and, maybe, the Egyptian original was, indeed, used in art classes to inspire copies. Who knows.

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