Mysterious bear figurines baffle archaeologists
2012 10 18
By Ditte Svane-Knudsen | ScienceNordic.com
Small bear figurines have led researchers on the trail of hitherto unknown pre-Inuit rituals, indicating that these people practiced a bear cult.
In the 1950s, the now diseased Danish archaeologist Jørgen Meldgaard made a mysterious discovery in northeastern Canada:
A small, headless bear figurine, carved from a walrus tusk, was lying leaning up against the back wall of a stone fireplace in an old settlement. The bear had been positioned in a way that made it look as though it was ‘diving’ into the fireplace.
At the time, this little figurine didn’t cause much of a stir. It was just one out of a long series of discoveries that Meldgaard made during his field trips to the Igloolik region of Arctic Canada and Greenland in the 1950s and 1960s.
But when researchers at the Danish National Museum recently gained access to Meldgaard’s surviving diaries, records and photos, they realised that the discovery of the bear figurine was indeed quite sensational.
Humans and animals were close
Their examination of the material revealed that the small bear figurine could be an important key to understanding how people from more than 1,000 years ago viewed the relationship between animals and humans.
The walrus tusk figurine is only 3.4 cm in length and could be an important key to understanding how people more than 1,000 years ago understood the relationship between humans and bears. The figure is thought to have disappeared now, leaving today’s archaeologists with little more than Jørgen Meldgaard’s sketches and blurry photos. (Photo: The National Museum of Denmark)
”The figurine provides us with information about some previously unknown 1,000-year-old rituals, which suggest that the Pre-Inuit, also known as the Dorset people, imagined that humans were related to certain animals in a way that’s very far from what we would imagine in today’s Western world,” says Ulla Odgaard, a senior researcher at the National Museum.
“Apparently, the Dorset people in Greenland and Canada didn’t see any antagonism between humans and animals,” she adds.
“Humans were not superior to animals; rather, it was a symbiotic co-existence. Bears and other animals functioned as mediators between mankind and the world of spirits.”
The Dorset way of thinking is also known from other early cultures
In other words, the finds reveal a belief in which animals – bears in particular – are our brothers, whose lives blend in with our own.
Read the full article at: sciencenordic.com
ScienceNordic.com is an online magazine with easily digestible science news stories from the Nordic region. You’re welcome to subscribe to our daily newsletter here.
Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings
Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru
Humans are descended from fish-like animal with a ’sixth sense’
The relationship between humans, gods, and animals; do animals have souls? (Audio)
Latest News from our Front Page
A Look at Theories About Elongated Skulls in Ancient Peru, Europe, Egypt
2014 07 31
Elongated skulls have been found in ancient burial grounds around the world. Many are the result of a practice of intentionally deforming the skull with binding applied during the early years of a child’s life. Some may be explained by natural deformity. Yet enough mystery is left in relation to some of the skulls for various theories to arise.
Could the ...
EU on high alert as Germany accepts Ebola patients
2014 07 30
A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic.
A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche ...
Bolivia declares Israel terrorist regime
2014 07 30
Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state” and revoked a visa exemption agreement with Tel Aviv in protest at the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The move "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," President Evo Morales said during talks with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba ...
Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches
2014 07 30
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?
A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.
Armed with just a torch and a ...
More Gigantic Holes Appear in Siberia’s ’End of the World’
2014 07 30
Is it the end of the world in Siberia’s ’End of the World’?
Scientists suspect not, but they’re still investigating the strange and alarming holes that are swallowing up the Siberian north.
This week two new holes have been discovered, and with similar characteristics as the first reported hole: a very deep shaft with smooth sides, debris surrounding the rim, and water ...
|More News » |