Sunday, 23 December 2012

Small yet Mighty

Today we are exploring Germany, the Vogelherd Cave to be precise.  The cave is located in the picturesque Lone Valley and has yielded some astonishing Upper Palaeolithic art.

Image taken from
This beautiful horse is approximately 32,000 years old and has been carved from mammoth tusk.  Over the years the layers of ivory have started to flake and unfortunately the legs have broken.  The horse is tiny, measuring only c.5cm long and c.2.5cm high, yet it is clear that its' carver was skilled in the art form.  The purpose of the carving is unknown, but the polished finish suggests that it was intended to be displayed.  The horse is thought to be a stallion due to the curved neck, however, such positioning also suggests that the horse was not best pleased and the legs are likely to have assisted the viewer in identifying this.  Despite being small it is most definitely mighty, it is certain to leave an impression with any visitor to the Museum Schloss Hohentübingen, Tübingen (Germany), where it currently is housed.  This is thought to be the oldest known portable horse depiction and was kept company by several other animal carvings, mainly in ivory, but some were stone.  The cave is thought to be a safe area where food was processed and consumed; the presence of such material culture suggests to me that it provided semi-permanent shelter for a group when hunting in the area.  I think that this artefact needs no theories, what it was made for does not seem important, its' creation alone is remarkable.

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