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World’s Earliest Figurative Sculpture - Ice Age Lion Man (40,000 Year-Old Mammoth Ivory Statue)
The Art Newspaper ^ | Saturday 9 Feb 2013 | The Art Newspaper

Posted on 02/08/2013 8:19:54 PM PST by DogByte6RER

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Ice Age Lion Man is world’s earliest figurative sculpture

• Work carved from mammoth ivory has been redated and 1,000 new fragments discovered—but it won’t make it to British Museum show

The star exhibit initially promised for the British Museum’s “Ice Age Art” show will not be coming—but for a good reason. New pieces of Ulm’s Lion Man sculpture have been discovered and it has been found to be much older than originally thought, at around 40,000 years. This makes it the world’s earliest figurative sculpture. At the London exhibition, which opens on 7 February, a replica from the Ulm Museum will instead go on display.

The story of the discovery of the Lion Man goes back to August 1939, when fragments of mammoth ivory were excavated at the back of the Stadel Cave in the Swabian Alps, south-west Germany. This was a few days before the outbreak of the Second World War. When it was eventually reassembled in 1970, it was regarded as a standing bear or big cat, but with human characteristics.

The ivory from which the figure had been carved had broken into myriad fragments. When first reconstructed, around 200 pieces were incorporated into the 30cm-tall sculpture, with about 30% of its volume missing.

Further fragments were later found among the previously excavated material and these were added to the figure in 1989. At this point, the sculpture was recognised as representing a lion. Most specialists have regarded it as male, although paleontologist Elisabeth Schmid controversially argued that it was female, suggesting that early society might have been matriarchal.

The latest news is that almost 1,000 further fragments of the statue have been found, following recent excavations in the Stadel Cave by Claus-Joachim Kind. Most of these are minute, but a few are several centimetres long. Some of the larger pieces are now being reintegrated into the figure.

Conservators have removed the 20th-century glue and filler from the 1989 reconstruction, and are now painstakingly reassembling the Lion Man, using computer-imaging techniques. “It is an enormous 3D puzzle”, says the British Museum curator Jill Cook.

The new reconstruction will give a much better idea of the original. In particular, the back of the neck will be more accurate, the right arm will be more complete and the figure will be a few centimetres taller.

• An imaginative sculptor

Even more exciting than the discovery of new pieces, the sculpture’s age has been refined using radio-carbon dating of other bones found in the strata. This reveals a date of 40,000 years ago, while until recently it was thought to be 32,000 years old. Once reconstruction is completed, several tiny, unused fragments of the mammoth ivory are likely to be carbon dated, and this is expected to confirm the result.

This revised dating pushes the Lion Man right back to the oldest sculptures, which have been found in two other caves in the Swabian Alps. These rare finds are dated at 35,000 to 40,000 years, but the Lion Man is by far the largest and most complex piece. A few carved items have been found in other regions which are slightly older, but these have simple patterns, not figuration.

What was striking about the sculptor of the Lion Man sculptor is that he or she had a mind capable of imagination rather than simply representing real forms. As Cook says, it is “not necessary to have a brain with a complex pre-frontal cortex to form the mental image of a human or a lion—but it is to make the figure of a lion-man”. The Ulm sculpture therefore sheds further light on the evolution of homo sapiens.

Conservators experimented by making a replica of Lion Man, calculating that it would take a highly skilled carver at least 400 hours using flint tools (two months’ work in daylight). This means that the carver would have had to be looked after by hunter-gatherers, which presupposes a degree of social organisation. There is an ongoing debate on what the Lion Man represents, and whether it is linked to shamanism and the spirit world.

Initially, it was hoped that the original of the Lion Man would be presented at the British Museum’s exhibition, but this has not proved possible because conservators need further time to get the figure reconstructed as accurately as possible. The Ulm Museum now plans to unveil it in November.


TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Chit/Chat; History; Miscellaneous; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: anthropology; archaeology; bc; carbondated; godsgravesglyphs; iamlionman; iceage; ivory; lionman; mammoth; mammothivory; prehistoric
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1 posted on 02/08/2013 8:20:06 PM PST by DogByte6RER
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To: DogByte6RER

I seriously doubt that it took that long to carve. Were any of these conservators actually real artists?


2 posted on 02/08/2013 8:32:01 PM PST by Inyo-Mono (NRA)
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To: SunkenCiv

Ping


3 posted on 02/08/2013 8:35:24 PM PST by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: Inyo-Mono

Yeah, I could knock that out in a couple hours with my Dremel Moto-Tool.


4 posted on 02/08/2013 8:47:30 PM PST by AndrewB (FUBO)
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To: DogByte6RER
Frisky the wonder tigress just hopped into my lap to let me know she told me so and remind me we're being punished with four more years of President You Didn't Build That because two-leggers don't give kitties enough treats.

Settles that, I guess.

5 posted on 02/08/2013 8:47:34 PM PST by Standing Wolf
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To: DogByte6RER
"although paleontologist Elisabeth Schmid controversially argued that it was female"

Was she blind, or was she a spinster who never saw a male or a picture of one? It's obviously equipped as a male.

6 posted on 02/08/2013 8:51:29 PM PST by PAR35
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To: DogByte6RER

Beautiful piece of work.


7 posted on 02/08/2013 9:03:53 PM PST by Conservative4Ever (I'm going Galt)
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To: DogByte6RER

It`s not a lion- It`s a tiger; look at the stripes. duhhhh.


8 posted on 02/08/2013 9:05:55 PM PST by bunkerhill7 ("The Second Amendment has no limits on firepower"-NY State Senator Marchione.)
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To: bunkerhill7

No, it’s Liger.


9 posted on 02/08/2013 9:19:20 PM PST by AlmaKing
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To: DogByte6RER

Pretty nice workmanship. Imagine what it would be worth if it were for sale on the open market.


10 posted on 02/08/2013 9:55:30 PM PST by TigersEye (The irresponsible should not be leading the responsible.)
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To: DogByte6RER
Ancient Alien theorists claim it is a cave man's representation of a hybrid lion/human created by extraterrestrials through cloning.
11 posted on 02/08/2013 9:58:59 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I'll raise $2million for Sarah Palin's presidential run. What'll you do?)
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To: AlmaKing

12 posted on 02/08/2013 10:27:19 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

No,no. This is a representation of an ancient alien who was considered a god by the primitive humanoids.


13 posted on 02/08/2013 10:57:23 PM PST by wildbill (You're just jealous because the Voices talk only to me.)
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To: DogByte6RER; SunkenCiv
Larry Niven is a prophet: that is a Kzinti warrior! Obviously they visited Earth some 40,000 years ago.


14 posted on 02/09/2013 12:29:24 AM PST by ApplegateRanch (Love me, love my guns!©)
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To: Inyo-Mono
Were any of these conservators actually real artists?

From the comments at the end of the article. (Another one pointed out that male European cave lions didn't have manes, per various cave paintings.)

5 Feb 13 21:32 CET WULF HEIN, GERMANY
In 2009, I replicated the Lion Man from a tusk with authentic flint tools as an archaeological experiment on behalf of the Ulm Museum, the documentation can be seen here: http://www.echtzeitmedia.de/referenzen.php?id_c=loewe It took me more than 360 hours to carve the statuette, but once I started to work I liked to see it finished. I think the expression "work at daylight" used by the author of the article is mistakable, he just meant modern daily worktime (9 to 5). But I´m shure this artwork was made in more or less one go - as a reindeer hunter living a nomadic life you won´t carry around a statue weighing more than 1 kilogram for years and years. I could imagine that it was made during one winter by one specialized person being capable to do this - not everybody is a Michelangelo. "You carve for us, we pay for you". And I´m definitely shure that this statuette is sexless - where else are the female attributes depicted so impressive and often on venus carvings from the same time?

15 posted on 02/09/2013 12:54:06 AM PST by ApplegateRanch (Love me, love my guns!©)
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To: DogByte6RER

Beautiful..almost looks like its smiling.


16 posted on 02/09/2013 3:13:56 AM PST by SueRae (It isn't over. In God We Trust.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

17 posted on 02/09/2013 3:22:53 AM PST by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum -- "The Taliban is inside the building")
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To: Inyo-Mono

It was probably made in a cave factory in what is present day China and imported.....


18 posted on 02/09/2013 3:25:36 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: DogByte6RER
This makes it the world’s earliest figurative sculpture.

This makes it the world’s earliest known figurative sculpture.

It is always assumed that the earliest thing found is the earliest that ever was. For individual pieces it doesn't start 'wars" when something a bit earlier is found and confirmed. For larger things, like cities and populations, that assumption of "earliest" and "oldest" becomes a line defended to the death of the generation of archaeologists that made that determination of "earliest."

19 posted on 02/09/2013 4:43:23 AM PST by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson ONLINE www.fee.org/library/books/economics-in-one-lesson)
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To: ApplegateRanch

And the female Kzin were not sentient, so they were probably chasing Earth kitties!


20 posted on 02/09/2013 5:10:35 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: DogByte6RER

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks DogByte6RER.
The star exhibit initially promised for the British Museum's "Ice Age Art" show will not be coming -- but for a good reason. New pieces of Ulm's Lion Man sculpture have been discovered and it has been found to be much older than originally thought, at around 40,000 years. This makes it the world’s earliest figurative sculpture. At the London exhibition, which opens on 7 February, a replica from the Ulm Museum will instead go on display.
Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


21 posted on 02/09/2013 5:11:40 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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