Earliest Art Shows "Cavemen" Skill
Dec. 22, 2003
— Three tiny figurines carved out of mammoth ivory unearthed in a cave in southwestern Germany demonstrate that early humans were far from primitive in their artistic skills.
The find at Hohle Fels cave in the Swabian Jura, southwestern Germany, have been carbon-dated to at least 30,000 years old, placing them in the era when anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals lived alongside each other.
None longer than five centimeters (two inches) across, the carvings comprise a duck-like bird; an animal that resembles a horse; and a half-human, half-animal creature that appears to have the body of a man and possibly the face of a lion.
They join 17 other sculptures, including a fragment of a sophisticated musical pipe made from swan bone, that have been found at three nearby sites, Vogelherd, Geissenkloesterle and Hohlenstein-Stadel, all in the Ach and Lone Valleys southwest of Ulm.
These works "belong to one of the oldest traditions of figurative art known worldwide and point to the Upper Danube as an important center of cultural innovation during the early Upper Palaeolithic period," said Tuebingen University archaeologist Nicholas Conard, who made the find.
The carvings have been dated to the so-called Aurignacian period, through analysis of carbon isotopes in the stratum of soil in which they were deposited.
The collection of 20 Swabian Jura carvings is "the oldest body of figurative art in the world," said British archaeologist Anthony Sinclair, whose commentary in the London-based science journal Nature is published on Thursday alongside Conard's research.
"The unknown hand that carved them displayed astonishing technical skills. That debunks the notion, set down in the 19th century, that cave dwellers began as primitive wall-daubers and then bit by bit acquired better artistic talents and a wider range of tools and materials.
"The study of early art has been plagued by our desire to see this essentially human skill in a progressive evolutionary context," said Sinclair.
"Yet for many outlets of artistic expression — cave paintings, textiles, ceramics and musical instruments — the evidence increasingly refuses to fit. Instead of a gradual evolution of skills, the first modern humans in Europe were in fact astonishingly precocious artists."
In October 2001, French researchers estimated that spectacular charcoal wall drawings found in underground chambers in the Ardeche region depicting horses, rhinoceros and a deer, were between 29,700 and 32,400 years old.
Arguably the most famous cave paintings in the world are the Lascaux caves in southwestern France, which are around 17,000 years old. But the dating of the paintings in the Chauvet caves in the Ardeche shows that early European cavedwellers were just as skilled at art as the humans who followed 13,000 years later, according to the 2001 study.
The oldest known objects considered to be art are far older than the cave paintings or the Swabian figurines, however, and they precede the rise of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens.
A tiny stone carving found in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in 1981 is estimated at 233,000 years old. And pigments and paint-grinding equipment found in a cave in 2000 at Twin Rivers, near Lusaka, Zambia, are believed to be between 350,000 and 400,000 years old. ..Source Discovery.com
MISSING: 500,000 TONS OF COPPER
For some 1800 years, beginning abruptly about 3000 BC, some industrious peoples mined ore equivalent to 500,000 tons of copper from Michigan's Isle Royale and Keweenaw Peninsula. Who were these mysterious miners, and what happened to all all that copper?
It certainly hasn't been found in the relics of North American Indians. And where was the ore smelted? About all the unidentified miners left behind are some of the crude tools they used to pound out chunks of ore from their pit mines (5000 pit mines on Isle Royale alone).
Outside of some cairns and slabrock ruins, there is little to help pin down these miners. Mainstream archeologists attribute all these immense labors to a North American "Copper Culture" -- certainly not to copper-hungry visitors from foreign shores.
Admittedly, many copper artifacts have been dug up from North American mounds, but only a tiny fraction of the metal the Michigan mines must have yielded.
Curiously, North American Indian mounds have contained copper sheets made in the shape of an animal hide. Called "reels," their function, if any, is unknown. The reels do, however, resemble oddly shaped copper ingots common in European Bronze Age commerce. Their peculiar shape earned these ingots the name "oxhydes."
They have been found in Bronze Age shipwrecks, and are even said to be portrayed in wall paintings in Egyptian tombs. The standardized hide-like shape, with its four convenient handles, was useful in carrying and stacking the heavy ingots. Could the reels from the North American mounds have been copied from the oxhydes? It is tempting to speculate (as we are wont to do) that the Copper Culture miners were actually Europeans, or perhaps Native Americans employed or enslaved by Europeans -- an omen of future, more devastating invasions!
(Sodders, Betty; "Who Mined American Copper 5,000 Years Ago?" Ancient American, 1:28, September/October 1993.)
In the following story, what we find interesting is the continuing theme that "ancient man" was sophisticated -and in ways that continue to surprise materialists-but shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who believes that we were never ape-men but that we are descendants of Adam who lived thousands-not millions of years ago.
Oldest Star Chart Found
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor
The oldest image of a star pattern, that of the famous constellation of Orion, has been recognised on an ivory tablet some 32,500 years old.
The tiny sliver of mammoth tusk contains a carving of a man-like figure with arms and legs outstretched in the same pose as the stars of Orion.
The claim is made by Dr Michael Rappenglueck, formerly of the University of Munich, who is already renowned for his pioneering work locating star charts painted on the walls of prehistoric caves.
The tablet also contains mysterious notches, carved on its sides and on its back. These could be a primitive "pregnancy calendar", designed to estimate when a pregnant woman will give birth.
It was found in 1979 in a cave in the Ach Valley in the Alb-Danube region of Germany. Carbon dating of bone ash deposits found next to the tablet suggest it is between 32,500 and 38,000 years old, making it one of the oldest representations of a man ever found.
It was left behind by the mysterious Aurignacian people about whom we know next to nothing save that they moved into Europe from the east supplanting the indigenous Neanderthals.
The ivory tablet is small, measuring only 38 x 14 x 4 millimetres, but from the notches carved into its edges archaeologists believe that it was made that size and is not a fragment of something bigger.
On one side of the tablet is the man-like being with his legs apart and arms raised. Between his legs hangs what could be a sword and his waist is narrow. His left leg is shorter than his right one.
Rappenglueck has found other evidence
From what is speculated about the myths of these ancient peoples before the dawn of history, archaeologists have suggested that the man-like figure could be praying or dancing, or be a half-man, half-cat, or a divine being.
But Michael Rappenglueck thinks it is a drawing of the constellation of Orion that is nowadays, and was perhaps also 32,000 years ago, called the hunter.
The proportions of the man correspond to the pattern of stars that comprise Orion, especially its slim waist - which corresponds to its famous belt of three stars and the left "leg" of the constellation being shorter.
The "sword" on the ivory tablet also corresponds to a famous and well-know feature that can be seen in Orion.
There are also other indications that Dr Rappenglueck may be correct.
The stars were in slightly different positions 32,000 years ago because they are moving across the sky at different speeds and in different directions, a phenomenon called "proper motion".
Dr Rappenglueck allowed for this effect by using a computer program to wind back the sky and found evidence for a particular star in Orion that was in a different place all those years ago.
Human gestation period
The tablet may also be a pregnancy calendar. There are 86 notches on the tablet, a number that has two special meanings.
First, it is the number of days that must be subtracted from a year to equal the average number of days of a human gestation. This is no coincidence, says Dr Rappenglueck.
It is also the number of days that one of Orion's two prominent stars, Betelguese, is visible. To ancient man, this might have linked human fertility with the gods in the sky.
Orion is one of the most striking constellations. The Ancient Egyptians identified it with their god Osiris and it has a special significance for many cultures throughout history throughout the world.
Source: BBC News..Jan 21, 2003