Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New 'lion man' fragments from Hohlenstein-Stadel

Neat Aurignacian art objects keep popping up in Germany! A few years ago, the Hohle Fels 'Venus' was recovered in deposits dating to more than 30kya (Conard 2009), and now we learn that renewed excavations in the Aurignacian levels of the nearby site of Hohlenstein-Stadel have yielded new fragments of what is perhaps the most iconic piece of Aurignacian portable art, the so-called Löwenmensch, or lion-man.

"Over the past two years, German archaeologists have carefully excavated more of the sediment near the spot where the Lion-Man showed up. Thousands of bone fragments and some ivory pieces were found. Some of them matched the Lion-Man perfectly, a delighted Kind reported. Some of the figure's missing right side and parts of the back have already been restored as a result. "It needs a huge amount of patience," said Kind. "It's like doing a jigsaw puzzle in 3D." The work is continuing with the help of computer tomograph images of the pieces and simulation software. By next year, the Lion-Man may be complete. 
The restorers have also concluded that Lion-Man was somewhat taller than the 30 centimetres of him that currently exist. He was carved from one tusk, with the artist forming the legs from two sides of tusk's hollow root."

And here's shot of some of these fragments being refitted to the statuette originally found in 1939.


It's a bit unclear from the linked story whether the refitting pieces were found in the backdirt of the original excavators or in situ in deposits left untouched by the original excavators. Regardless, a very neat find, and another clear example of why it matters to reexcavate key sites excavated in the 'golden age' of Paleolithic archaeology. Also makes you wonder what finds lie hidden in sites untouched to date...


Conard, N. (2009). A female figurine from the basal Aurignacian of Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany Nature, 459 (7244), 248-252 DOI: 10.1038/nature07995

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