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Nature. 2003 Dec 18;426(6968):830-2.

Palaeolithic ivory sculptures from southwestern Germany and the origins of figurative art.

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Abteilung für Altere Urgeschichte und Quartärökologie, Institut für Ur-und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Universität Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, 72070 Tübingen, Germany.


Archaeologists have always viewed the origin of figurative art as a crucial threshold in human evolution. Here I report the discovery of three figurines carved from mammoth ivory at Hohle Fels Cave in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany, which provides new evidence for the appearance of figurative art more than 30,000 years ago. The finds include the oldest known representation of a bird, a therianthropic sculpture and an animal that most closely resembles a horse. The Aurignacian sculptures of the Swabian Jura belong to one of the oldest traditions of figurative art known worldwide and point to the Upper Danube as an important centre of cultural innovation during the early Upper Palaeolithic period.

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