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January, 2004 - Nr. 1


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Earliest art carvings found in Germany

  TWIG - Carved figurines, possibly more than 30,000 years old, have been found in a cave in southwest Germany, the magazine Nature reported in its December 18 issue.

The three carvings provide evidence that humans of the Late Stone Age were already adept at figurative art and that this region of the Upper Danube River has been an important area of cultural innovation, said Nicholas J. Conard, an archaeologist at the University of Tuebingen. He discovered the figurines at Hohle Fels Cave in the Swabian mountains, southwest of Ulm.

"Without any question, they are the oldest body of figurative art in the world - pieces that show a coherent set of manufacturing techniques and themes for representation", said Anthony Sinclair, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool.

One of the carvings – all of them made of ivory from mammoth tusks – resembles a bird, possibly a cormorant or a duck. The others seem to be the head of a horse and a figure half-man, half animal. Neither is longer than an inch. More than 20 similar ivory figures have been found in the area in recent years, according to Conard.

Conard said that the representational works have been produced by modern humans, not by their relatives, the Neanderthals, some of whom were still living in Europe at the same time period. The carvings were personal possessions, not art in today’s sense, according to Sinclair, who wrote a companion article to Conard’s Nature report.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


Nature Online


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