German 'Venus' may Be Oldest Yet
Posted on: 2009-05-15 01:26:48
Europe reveals yet another ancient secret: A remarkable ivory carving is arguably the oldest sculpture of a human figure yet found, scientists say.
The distorted object, which portrays a woman with huge breasts, big buttocks and exaggerated genitals, is thought to be at least 35,000 years old.
The 6cm-tall figurine, reported in the journal Nature, is the latest find to come from Hohle Fels Cave in Germany.
Previous discoveries have included exquisite carvings of animals, and an object that could be a stone "sex toy".
Professor Nicholas Conard, from the department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, at Tübingen University, said is was understandable that many would also view the new discovery in a pornographic light, but he cautioned against jumping to quickly to a particular interpretation.
"We project our ideas of today on to this image from 40,000 years ago," he told the BBC.
The Hohle Fels object is of an age where radiocarbon dating techniques become somewhat uncertain. Scientists say, however, that it is unquestionably older than previous finds associated with, for example, European Gravettian culture.
These typically date from between 22,000 and 27,000 years ago, with the most famous item probably being the Venus of Willendorf which was discovered in 1908.
Professor Conard has described many of the extraordinary finds at Hohle Fels.
He says the Venus is perhaps the earliest example of figurative art worldwide.