Prehistoric Art And Symbolism




Gabarnmung Shelter Australia 35,000 BC - 17,000 BC


35.000 BC The Löwenmensch figurine after restoration in 2013

  • Sculpture of a horse

Length: 4.8 cm (ca. 30,000 – 29,000 years old)

"Exceptionally accurately shaped, perfect in form and remarkably expressive. Due to the curved neck, it is usually thought to represent a stallion with an aggressive or imposing bearing. Only the head is completely preserved. Due to the flaking of external ivory layers, the width has been reduced and the legs have broken off. There are engraved symbols, including cross marks and angular signs, on the back of the neck, as well as on the back and the left chest."[12][self-published source?]

  • Sculpture of a woolly mammoth

Length: 3.7 cm (ca. 35,000 years old)

The entirely intact woolly mammoth figurine displays skilfully detailed carvings. It is unique in its slim form, pointed tail, powerful legs and dynamically arched trunk. It is decorated with six short incisions, and the soles of the pachyderm's feet show a crosshatch pattern.[13]

In 2009, the figurine became the central exhibit of a large Landesausstellung.[4]

  • Sculpture of a cave lion

Length: 5.6 cm (ca. 40,000 years old)

Found in 1931 with an incomplete head and thought to be a relief. The missing piece was found during the excavations between 2005 and 2012 and were successfully reattached, thus confirming that the figurine is in fact a three-dimensional sculpture. It is decorated with approximately 30 finely incised crosses on its spine.[14][15]

Venus of Brassempouy (23,000 BCE).

Oldest Known Stone Age Portrait.


Stone slab drawings from the Apollo 11 Cave in Namibia. Created c.25,500 - 25,300 years ago.


World’s oldest wooden sculpture has 11,500-year-old ‘code’

By Will Stewart, The Sun

February 27, 2019 | 2:59pm | Updated

The Shigir Idol, the most ancient wooden sculpture, displayed at the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore.

A mysterious code on the world’s oldest wooden sculpture could be an 11,500-year-old ode to ancient spirits.

The Shigir Idol, made shortly after the end of the last Ice Age, depicts “demon” faces, but they may not have been evil, according to Mikhail Zhilin of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“The word ‘demon,’ for example, has a very wide range of meanings even in English — from devil to good genius,” said Zhilin, a leading researcher of the academy’s Age Archeology Department.

“In fact, given that we do not know the context 11,500 years ago, we cannot say exactly what the [markings on the Idol] depicted.”

Rather, the monument’s haunting O-shaped mouth and its unique zigzag etched lines and symbols show that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers had a “rather complicated world view.”

“We are a long way from unravelling the ancient code left by the creators of the Shigir Idol. There is nothing in the world similar to the Idol, no written data left,” Zhilin told The Siberian Times.

However, the researcher added: “Apparently [the demon depictions] were some kind of spirits. Not deities, because we think that deities appeared later. We must not underestimate the people who created the idol.

“They had all the necessary tools and skills — and they had a rather complicated world view. All the world was inhabited with different spirits. And not only the animals and the trees but even the stones were animated.

“We think it was something close to animism … I see in these images unity and diversity of the world around. And it was definitely not divided just into kind and evil spirits.”

Three times older than the pyramids

Zhilin and his team of researchers also uncovered new findings about the idol, which was originally more than 17 feet high and is is three times as old as the Egyptian pyramids.

One is that it stood not in the ground but probably leaning against a rock outcrop for perhaps 20 years before toppling into an ancient and long-gone paleo-lake to be preserved for posterity.

Found in the Ural Mountains by tsarist gold prospectors in the 19th century, it was encased in peat for thousands of years and, despite being made of larch, is seen as one of the world’s oldest known examples of monumental art.

New artists’ impressions show how the idol may have looked propped up against a rock face.

“Based on the facts I can clearly say that it was not dug into the ground, like Totem poles,” Zhilin said.

“It was standing on a relatively hard, presumably stone, pedestal because the lower part is flattened by strong pressure and this sculpture was quite heavy. It stood in this way but not for a very long time.”

German dendrologist Karl-Uwe Heussner discovered it was on display like this for no more than around two decades.

“After that, a crack appeared in the middle — and a series of smaller cracks,” Zhilin . explained. “Then it fell into the water … there was a big Shigir paleo-lake.”

Another theory is that the idol could have been floated on a raft on the lake, but Zhilin says, “We have no data to confirm this.”

“It was definitely standing on some stone base in the open air and there were no supports.”

But it could also have leaned against a tree, he said. A leather strap or something similar might have fastened it into place.

“For example rawhide straps — they would not leave any significant trace. I tend to think that it was standing near the water, in quite a secluded place and most likely it was resting on a rock.”

The idol is on display at the Sverdlovsk Regional History Museum in Yekaterinburg.