Miss Cuddlywumps considers a 40,000-year-old feline figurine
Lion figurine from Vogelherd Cave, along with the long-lost
second half of its head. Photo by Hilde Jensen, University of Tübingen.
Some 83 years ago, back in 1931, archaeologists unearthed a lion figurine carved out of mammoth ivory. The figurine was found in southwestern Germany’s Vogelherd Cave, in which many other works of Ice Age art have been discovered. The only trouble was, the archaeologists had found only half of the lion, and they did not know it.
According to Professor Nicholas Conard of Tübingen University’s Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology, that well-known figurine was thought to be a relief rather than a three-dimensional sculpture. This made it “unique among these finds dating to the dawn of figurative art.” Then, some 21st-century researchers discovered a fragment of ivory in the same cave. They found that this fragment matched the lion figurine that had been found years earlier and was in fact the other side of the animal’s head. This means the lion was a three-dimensional carving. Perhaps the remaining fragments of the second half are still waiting to be found and identified.
This figurine is far from the only important artifact to come out of Vogelherd Cave. Work there has revealed evidence for very early art and music, from the time when modern humans began living in Europe.
We think the fact that those humans from so long ago chose to represent a great cat in their art says something about cats and humans: You humans have always been fascinated by felines in all forms.
The lion sculpture is currently on display at the Tübingen University Museum.
Source: University of Tübingen