The Löwenmensch Of The Aurignacians

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§.01—The Löwenmensch figurine or Lion-person of the Hohlenstein-Stadel is the oldest known piece of man-made figurative art, dated to before 40,000 BCE. The prehistoric statue was discovered in the southern German cave of Hohlenstein-Stadel (Hollow Stone Barn) in 1939 by SS Major Robert Wetzel and was partially recomposed in 1969 and, later, in 2013. The statue was found in a isolated chamber with pierced arctic fox teeth and a collection of reindeer antlers. The statue—which stands just over a foot high—was arduously and skillfully carved of mammoth ivory. Experimentation by manufacturer Wulf Hein, who attempted a replica of the Löwenmensch figurine by hand with only the tools available to the hunter-gatherer Aurignacians who lived 40,000+ years ago, suggests the statue took approximately 400 hours to craft. The amount of time and skill needed to manufacture both the Löwenmensch and the tools for its construction, when taken with the fact the sculpture clearly provides no aid regarding the obvious functions of survival—food and water collection and storage, heating, defense, etc.—suggests it held ontological (and possibly cosmological) significance to its creators.

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Lion person statuette from three angles.

§.02—It is perhaps, not incidental that the mammoth—from whose tusk the statue was made—and the lion—that is represented via the artwork’s synthesis with the human form—were, respectively, the largest land animal of the time and the most dominant predator.

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Close up of the Löwenmensch from Hollow Stone Barn.
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Löwenmensch statuette in glass encasement.
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Woman observing the Löwenmensch in the Museum of Ulm.

§.03—As of this writing, the artifact resides in Ulm Museum, which is located only ten miles upstream of Holenstein-Stadel.


Sources

  1. [—]. (2017) Höhlen der Schwäbischen Alb sind Weltkulturerbe. Lust auf NaTour.
  2. [—]. (2014) Löwenmensch im Ulmer Museum. Lust auf NaTour.
  3. [—]. (2016) The Lion Man: A Telling Bone. The Lion Man Foundation.
  4. Jill Cook. (2017) The Lion Man: An Ice Age Masterpiece. The British Museum.
  5. ulfr23. (2014) Lion Man 2.0 – The Experiment. EchtzeitMEDIA.
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