35,000-year-old ivory carving found: Busty sculpture could be world's oldest
Patrick McGroarty | The London Free Press
This figurine, found in 2008 in a cave in Schelklingen, southern Germany is allegedly the world's oldest reproduction of a human with an estimated age of at least 35,000 years. (AP/Daniel Maurer).
A 35,000-year-old ivory carving of a busty woman found in a German cave was unveiled Wednesday by archaeologists who believe it is the oldest known sculpture of the human form.
The carving found in six fragments in Germany’s Hohle Fels cave depicts a woman with a swollen belly, wide-set thighs and large, protruding breasts.
“It’s very sexually charged,” said University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard, whose team discovered the figure in September.
Carbon dating suggests it was carved at least 35,000 years ago, according to the researchers’ findings, which are being published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature.
“It’s the oldest known piece of figurative sculpture in the world,” said Jill Cook, a curator of Paleolithic and Mesolithic material at the British Museum in London.
Maria Malina, scientific employee, presents the photo of a carved ivory female figurine during its presentation in Tuebingen, southern Germany, Wednesday, May 13, 2009.
Stones in Israel and Africa almost twice as old are believed to have been collected by ancient humans because they resembled people, but they were not carved independently.
The Hohle Fels cave discovery suggests the humans, who are believed to have come to Europe around 40,000 years ago, had the intelligence to create symbols and think abstractly in a way that matches the modern human, Conard said.
“It’s 100 percent certain that, by the time we get to 40,000 years ago in Swabia, we’re dealing with people just like you and me,” Conard told The Associated Press, referring to the southern German region where the sculpture was recovered along with other prehistoric artifacts.
Conard believes the 2.4-inch-tall (6-centimeter) figure may have been hung on the end of a string. The left arm is missing, but Conard said he hopes to find it by sifting through material from the cave.
The Hohle Fels sculpture is curvaceous and has neither feet nor a head, like some of the roughly 150 so-called Venus figurines found in a range from the Pyrenees mountains to southern Russia and dating back about 25,000-29,000 years.
But Cook warned against trying to draw any connections between the Venuses and the Hohle Fels figure, saying that would be like comparing Picasso to a classical sculptor — too much time had passed.
“I wonder whether at this point we’re looking at figures which are unique within themselves and unique within the cultures that they’re arising in,” she said.
Archaeologist Paul Mellars, of the University of Cambridge, suggested a clearer continuum.
“We now have evidence of that sort of artistic tradition of Venus figurines going back 6,000 years earlier than anybody ever guessed,” he said.
Neanderthals also lived in Europe around the time the sculpture was carved, and frequented the Hohle Fels cave. But Mellars said layered deposits left by both species over thousands of years prove the sculpture was crafted by humans.
“Nothing within a million miles of this has ever been found in a Neanderthal layer,” Mellars said.
The archaeologists agreed the sculpture’s age and features invite speculation about its purpose and the preoccupations of the culture that produced it.
Cook suggested it could be symbol of fertility, perhaps even portrayed in the act of giving birth.
Mellars suggested a more basic motivation for the carving: “These people were obsessed with sex.”
Conard said the differing opinions reinforced the connection between the ancient artist and modern viewer.
“How we interpret it tells us just as much about ourselves as about people 40,000 years ago,” he said.
Prehistoric Pin Up
A female figurine from the basal Aurignacian of Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany
Finds from the Hohle Fels cave
33 Weird Statues and Sculptures Around The World
Prehistoric cave carving hailed as 'one of most significant examples ever found in Britain'
Prehistoric 'Venus' carved on cliff in China
Latest News from our Front Page
Aurora Shooting Victim Parents Face $200K Court Fees, Bankruptcy, After Failing to Sue Ammo Dealers
The 2012 Colorado Theater Shooting still doesn’t add up…
Media character and ‘Shooter’ James Holmes in court in 2012-2013.
In 2014, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, the mother and stepfather of Aurora Theater Shooting victim Jessica Redfield Ghawi, tried to sue the ammo companies they believe supplied shooter James Holmes with his ammunition, body armor and other items. They bleived that the online retailer BulkAmmo.com had sold Holmes ...
FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force Investigating Confederate Flags at MLK's Ebenezer Baptist Church
According to the Atlanta Police Department, two White men left four small Confederate Battle Flags outside MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta … and get this, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is on the scene investigating the incident.
Atlanta police Chief George Turner said his agency was working with federal authorities and they have not determined what charges might be ...
Democratic National Committee Chair Wasserman Schultz Canâ€™t Explain Difference Between Democrat Party and Socialism
Things got very awkward today when Chris Matthews asked DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz what the difference was between the modern Democratic Party and Socialism.
We havenâ€™t seen that dazed look since Rachel Dolezal was busted as a fraud.
Wasserman Schultz was speechless.
Then changed the subject.
Because we all know there is no difference between todayâ€™s Democrat Party and the radical ...
Catching on slow: Yet Another Study Show Cellphone Radiation Cause Cancer
The scientists were right — your cell phone can give you cancer.
There have long been whispers of a cancer connection from your cell — and a new study backs up the claims.
"These data are a clear sign of the real risks this kind of radiation poses for human health," study author Igor Yakymenko said.
Yakymenko’s meta-study — basically a study of ...
Trump Goes #Cuckservative on Immigration
For weeks, the media have trumpeted the supposed death of the Trump campaign. First, they claimed, Trump’s campaign imploded on launch thanks to his comments about illegal immigration. Then they claimed that Trump was finished because of his slap at Senator’s (R-AZ) war service. But neither of those comments alienated Trump’s base – he’s maintained his seven point lead over ...
|More News » |