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11 August 2014
Ancient fragment of ivory is missing piece of animal figurine

Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have found a fragment of mammoth ivory belonging to a 40,000 year old animal figurine. The figurine depicting a lion was discovered during excavations in 1931. The new fragment makes up one side of the figurine's head. Both were found in the Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany, which has yielded a number of remarkable works of art dating to the Ice Age.
     "It is one of the most famous Ice Age works of art," says Professor Nicholas Conard of Tübingen University's Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology, and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeo-environment Tübingen. "and until now, we thought it was a relief. The reconstructed figurine clearly is a three dimensional sculpture."
     "We have been carrying out renewed excavations and analysis at Vogelherd Cave for nearly ten years," says Conard. "The site has yielded a wealth of objects that illuminate the development of early symbolic artefacts dating to the period when modern humans arrived in Europe and displaced the indigenous Neanderthals."
     Vogelherd Cave has provided evidence of the world's earliest art and music, and is a key element in the push to make the caves of the Swabian Jura a UNESCO World Heritage site.
     Vogelherd is one of four caves in the region where the world's earliest figurines have been found. Several dozen figurines and fragments have been found in the Vogelherd alone, and researchers are piecing together thousands of mammoth ivory fragments.

<em>Edited from Universitat Tubingen, ScienceDaily (30 July 2014)</em>

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