The 2.4-inch-tall (6-centimeter) figurine was carved from a mammoth's tusk. Carbon dating indicates that it is at least 35,000 years old. "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. Image Credit: University of Tubingen / H. Jensen
Oldest Profession? - The Urge To Carve!
Many say the world's oldest profession centers on sex for money. This may be true, but a recent discovery unearthed around some caves in Germany has come up with an ancient substitute for the real thing.
A carving sculpture of a female form carbon dated to be about 40,000 years old is believed to be the world's oldest human sculpture of any form ever found around here on the Oblate Spheroid.
Mammoth Sculpture: The piece was found in sediment originally excavated from the Vogelherd Cave in 1931. A total of five mammoth figurines have been found there. Image Credit: Universität Tübingen
A couple of years ago, Archeologists dug up sculptures of Mammoths and other animal forms, but the Mammoth ivory carving of an anatomically correct female, found in six fragments in Germany's Hohle Fels cave which depicts a woman with a swollen belly, wide-set thighs and large, protruding breasts, is the most profound in that it may be the oldest found human form sculpture.
Dig Site At The Vogelherd Cave: The pieces came from soil layers estimated to be between 28,000 and 36,000 years old. That makes the figurines some of the oldest known pieces of art and coincide with the time when the first modern humans settled Europe. Image Credit: Universität Tübingen
This excerpted and edited from Spiegel -
Oldest Known Human Sculpture Found in Germany
Spiegel Online - 05/14/2009
The birthplace of human art. If indeed there is such a place, researchers are increasingly inclined to believe that it is to be found in the hills -- and caves -- of southern Germany.
Already, archaeologists have unearthed a number of miniature mammoth ivory carvings -- and on Wednesday, Nicholas Conard, a professor of prehistory at the University of Tübingen, presented his most recent sensational discovery: a tiny figure of a shockingly anatomically correct woman carved out of mammoth ivory that is at least 35,000 years old and perhaps as old as 40,000.
The female figure has a swollen stomach and a large, protruding chest. Some have suggested that it should be seen as a symbol of fertility, while others see a more sexual nature. According to an article on the statue in the journal Nature, it could be seen "by 21st-century standards ... as bordering on the pornographic." Image Credit: University of Tubingen / H. Jensen
The carving, called the "Venus of the Fels Cave," is thought to be the oldest human depiction ever found and one of the most ancient pieces of representational art in the world. "I was speechless," Conard told reporters, describing the first time he laid eyes on the figurine.
The find was made in September of last year in one of the numerous caves in the southern German region of Swabia, not far from the Danube River valley.
Archaeologists have found some 25 small ivory carvings in the region, including depictions of mammals, horses, bison and birds. Researchers have also found the world's oldest music instruments -- a kind of flute made out of the bones of birds.
The most recent discovery is notable for its explicit depiction of the female form -- one which "by 21st century standards could be seen as bordering on the pornographic," according to an article in the journal Nature.
Beyond that, though, Conrad and his team are hesitant to guess what the figure, which is just six centimeters from head to toe, might have symbolized.
The figure will be shown to the public for the first time at an Ice Age exhibit in Stuttgart which is scheduled to run from Sept. 18 to Jan. 10, 2010.