4,000-year-old emoji discovered on Susquehanna River island

If you think emojis are a fade, think again. This 😐 neutral face carved rock unearthed on Piney Island, Lancaster County, is believed to be between 2,700 to 4,300 years old. It is the oldest known representation of a human face found in the Commonwealth.

Face Rock at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. The State Museum of Pennsylvania / Photo by Don Giles

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission archeologists uncovered the five-inch diameter rounded stone in 1973 while excavating the Susquehanna River island. In addition to finding “Face Rock,” the scientists found a variety of projectile points between 2,700 to 6,400 years old.

While there’s a possibility that this is an ancient emoji, it is more likely a ceremonial figure used by a shaman during tribal rituals. It could also simply be a decorative object.

Credit: The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Archaeology.

It may have been created by the indigenous people who lived on Piney Island thousands of years ago or produced elsewhere and found its way to the river via trade. It might have also been painted or decorated with feathers. All is conjecture and much is unknown about Face Rock.

What is known is that Face Rock was not a tool or weapon and is the earliest nonutilitarian object to be found in Pennsylvania.


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Now you can own a beautiful reproduction map of Martic Township from 1864 through 1899, home of Piney Island in the Susquehanna River.


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