sábado, 10 de diciembre de 2011

Is the Lion Man a Woman? Solving the Mystery of a 35,000-Year-Old Statue

... The debate remains undecided today. But that could soon change, now that new fragments of the Lion Man have turned up.

The new discoveries came after archeologists once again turned their attention to the Stadel cave. They sifted through all of the rubble from 1939, explains excavator Claus-Joachim Kind -- and the results were sensational. "We found about 1,000 pieces, which presumably belong to the statue," Kind says.

Some of the fragments are tiny, only a few square millimeters in size, but the cache also includes pieces as long as a finger.

The figurine will be taken to the State Conservation Office in Esslingen, near Stuttgart, where it will be completely taken apart. The old glue joints will be dissolved and the filler made of beeswax and chalk, which was used as a placeholder, will be removed.

Photo: Augsburger Allgemeine

Then the statue will be reassembled piece by piece, a task that those involved await with great anticipation. "We will soon be able to view the most mysterious work of art from (the southwestern German state of) Baden-Württemberg in its original form," Kind hopes.

Already it is clear that the figurine will become a few centimeters taller due to new neck pieces that have been found. Furthermore, the gaping hole in the back can now be plugged, and the right arm has been found in its entirety. Additional decorations, including raised dots and strange-looking lines, have come to light.

These new revelations offer a greater insight into the mind of the prehistoric sculptor, who created the figure about 35,000 years ago. His ancestors had migrated to Europe, which had been controlled by the Neanderthals, shortly before.

The statue was found near traces of a fire site in a niche 27 meters (89 feet) from the mouth of the cave. When Kind was working at the site, he also found a decorated deer's tooth, the incisors of an arctic fox and ivory beads. The items could have been pieces from a decorative robe. Perhaps the niche served as a shaman's changing room.

It is considered likely that prehistoric sorcerers wore furs as costumes when they celebrated rituals around the campfire. Hybrid creatures -- half-man, half-beast -- also appear in cave drawings in France... [Read more]

Opinion: The article picks the "Lion-Man or Lion-Woman" angle, but I think a more broadly interesting question is why this time and place had a proliferation of ivory artifacts. The Lion-Man is not the only anthropothere, and the appearance of such images so early in the record of artistic representation would seem to show that such combinations are fundamental to the human imagination. john hawks weblog

Related: 26/27-04-11. New 'lion man' fragments from Hohlenstein-Stadel.

Video: Der Löwenmensch von Asselfingen. Vídeo YouTube (radio7kanal el 14/04/2011) añadido a Paleo Vídeos > Prehistoria Universal > L.R.2.3

Especiales: Paleo Venus: Alemania

Dead Dead Sea prehistory

Emily Sohn reports on a drilling project that is bringing to light ancient drying episodes in the Dead Sea basin: "A dry Dead Sea before biblical times".

At a level corresponding with 120,000 years ago, during a warm period between ice ages, the researchers found a layer of small round pebbles sitting on top of 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) of thick salt deposits. Those pebbles, they announced this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, look just like the rocks that normally appear on the lake's beaches -- suggesting that one of the deepest parts of the lake was once dry.
Information about human occupation of the Levant and Arabian peninsula is getting crowded between 120,000 and 100,000 years ago. A total drying of the Jordan basin around the last interglacial would make things very interesting. Imagine the ancient artifacts on those beaches encased in meters of salt under the brine.


Mammoth Mummies Mysteries

... Natural mummies can be preserved in bog deposits, in tar pits, deep inside caves, glacier ice or permafrost – an environment too cold for an effective decomposition of organic matter.

At least 16 species of ice age mammals have been found mummified complete or partially: woolly mammoth, Shasta-, Jefferson´s- and Patagonian ground sloth, woolly rhinoceros, Yukon horse, steppe bison, helmeted muskox, Harrington´s mountain goat, caribou, giant moose, black-footed ferret, collared pika, snowshoe hare, arctic ground squirrel and vole. The ground sloths and mountain goats were found inside of caves. The woolly rhinoceros and mammoth of Starunia (Ukraine) became “pickled” in salty groundwater and coated by natural occurring mineral waxes...

Fig.2. Example of preservation by mineral waxes: The mummy of the woolly rhinoceros of Starunia (Copy in the museum of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France).

[Read more]