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Thread: Hohle Fels Cave: Oldest Sculptures Unearthed (with Amazing Carvings)

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    Post Early man's carvings found in Germany

    Early man's carvings found in Germany

    Small figurines believed to be carved from mammoth ivory more than 30,000 years ago have been discovered in a cave in southern Germany.

    Among the earliest undisputed artworks ever found, they are providing new clues into the migration and religious beliefs of early humans.

    The figurines depict a water bird, what appears to be a horse's head and a lion-man.

    The one-inch lion-man is similar to a near one-foot-long figurine previously found in a nearby valley, which had been cited as evidence of shamanism - the belief that spirits can be influenced by priests known as shamans.

    Birds, especially water birds, are known to be favourite shamanistic symbols, which means "advocates of the shamanistic hypothesis are going to be very happy about these finds," said study author Nicholas Conard.

    The two-inch bird is extremely lifelike, with a well-formed head and eyes and the neck stretching out as if in flight. Conard said the figurine appears to be the oldest known representation of a bird, although an owl depicted in a French cave may be as old.

    While early man is often seen as brutish, the findings add to evidence that "the first modern humans in Europe were in fact astonishingly precocious artists," University of Liverpool archaeologist Anthony Sinclair wrote in a commentary accompanying the paper. Both appear in the journal Nature.

    The researchers believe the figurines, found in the Hohle Fels cave in the Ach Valley, were created by early anatomically modern humans and not their Neanderthal predecessors.

    Radiocarbon dating used to date the carvings is inexact, but the objects were almost certainly made between 28,000 and 35,000 years ago, and probably between 32,000 to 34,000 years ago, Sinclair said.

    © Associated Press

    Story filed: 18:01 Wednesday 17th December 2003
    Last edited by Vetinari; Thursday, December 18th, 2003 at 05:18 PM.

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    Hohle Fels Cave: Oldest Sculptures Unearthed (with Amazing Carvings)

    18 December 2003

    A set of ivory figurines found in southwestern Germany add to a growing cache of the oldest art known.

    The 30,000-year-old carvings underline the remarkable creativity of our earliest European ancestors. Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen, Germany, discovered the 2-centimetre-high figures in the Hohle Fels Cave in the country's Swabia region1.

    The figurines, and similar relics previously unearthed in Swabia, are the earliest known representations of living forms. "Without question, they are the oldest corpus of figurative art in the world," says archaeologist Anthony Sinclair of the University of Liverpool, UK.

    The carvings were almost certainly made by Europe's earliest modern settlers. Their location supports the idea that modern humans migrated into Europe along the River Danube more than 30,000 years ago.

    But the complexity of the findings undermines the traditional view that art began crudely and gradually acquired sophistication. "The new evidence refuses to fit," says Sinclair. "It seems that the first modern humans in Europe were astonishingly precocious in their skills."

    We may need to abandon simple ideas about where and when cultural modernity arose, says Conard. Different populations in Europe and elsewhere may have developed their styles independently.


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