Fragment of 40,000-Year-Old Mammoth-ivory Figurine Found in Germany

A team of archaeologists from the University of Tübingen, Germany, working in the Vogelherd Cave has unearthed what appears to be a fragment of animal figurine, which was originally discovered in the cave in 1931.

40,000-year-old lion figurine from Vogelherd Cave, now with the newly discovered head (H. Jensen / University of Tübingen)

40,000-year-old lion figurine from Vogelherd Cave, now with the newly discovered head (H. Jensen / University of Tübingen)

During the summer of 1931, the German archaeologist Gustav Riek and colleagues excavated in a small cave in southwestern Germany called Vogelherd.

Located in the Lone Valley, Vogelherd Cave is the richest of the four caves in the region that have produced examples of the earliest figurative art, dating as far back as 40,000 years ago.

The 1931 campaign yielded several remarkable artifacts, including an incomplete carved ivory figurine (58 x 24 x 14 mm) that the archaeologists decided was a bear or rhinoceros.

During the 2013 renewed excavations at the site, the Tübingen team unearthed another ivory fragment that completes the ‘bear-or-rhinoceros,’ which now can be recognized as a lion.

Members of the team, Prof Nicholas Conard and his assistant Mohsen Zeidi, have described the discovery in a paper to be published in the 2013 edition of the journal Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg.

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Bibliographic information: Nicholas Conard et al. 2013. Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg