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-More Early Human Carvings 2003-12-18

Posted by clype in Discovery, Europe, Humanities.
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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 25 mm long lion-man is similar to a near-300 mm 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 50 mm long bird is extremely lifelike, with a well-formed head and eyes and the neck stretching out as if in flight.

Mr.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 [ tel: 0151 794 4391, Fax: 0151 794 5057 E-mail:.g.m.sinclair@liv.ac.uk] 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.

“Early man’s carvings found in Germany “, Ananova 2003-12-17 We 18:01

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