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Hohle Fels Figurines


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Ivory Figurines from Hohle Fels
Horse Head Sculpture, Hohle Fels, Germany

Horse Head Sculpture, Hohle Fels, Germany

Hilde Jensen, University of Tübingen

Hohle Fels is an archaeological site, a cave in the Swabian Jura region of southwestern Germany, discovered in the 1870s and excavated most recently by Nicholas Conard at the University of Tubingen.

Hohle Fels has a long history of occupation spanning Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic periods, but it is best known for having provided us several wonderful Upper Paleolithic figurines, carved from mammoth ivory and dated to the Aurignacian period. Three figurines were reported in 2003, including a horse head dated about 30,000 years ago, and a water bird and half-human, half-lion figurine, both dated to about 31,000-33,000 years ago. In 2009, Conard reported the discovery of a Venus figurine, the oldest Venus figurine to date in fact, at least 35,000 years old, 4,000 years older than any other. This photo essay will examine the mammoth ivory figurines discovered from Hohle Fels to date.

The figurine on this page is what Conard called a horse head. The sides of the face and jaw show fine, regular cross hatching and fine parallel lines. The mouth, nostrils and eyes of the animal are depicted with deeply incised lines. The two pieces were found in 1999, in levels dated to 30,000 years ago.

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