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Vogelherd Cave, Vogelherdhöhlen



 Petersfels site

Listed as the Southern entrance, the left cave entrance is the big Vogelherd Cave. The right cave is just a small shelter, cut off from the main passage by a roof collapse many years ago.

Photo: Jochen Duckeck
Text: http://www.showcaves.com/images/Big/D054-038.jpg




Lonetal Sites This link takes the reader to the in depth discussion of the Vogelherd cave itself, as well as the other Lonetal Sites, including Neanderthal and Middle Paleolithic sites in the Swabian Alb near the city of Ulm, which were important areas of ice age art. The sites occur in the Schwaebische Alb (Swabian Alb), in the valleys of the Ach and Blau river near Blaubeuren, where the famous lion/human figure was found in the Hohlenstein-Stadel cave, and where the superb sculptures from Vogelherd were discovered.






Text below from: Delporte (1993)

This huge cave is located in Stetten ob Lonetal (Lone Valley, Württemberg). It was excavated in 1931 by Gustav Riek, who detailed an impressive stratigraphy, generally separated from each other by sterile archaeological layers. He attributed the levels to the Upper Acheulean (layer 8), Mousterian layer 7), the middle and upper Aurignacian (layers 6 and 4), the Magdalenian (layers 3 and 2), and the Neolithic.

The material collected during the excavation is kept at the Institute of Prehistory at the University of Tübingen. Riek published his findings, which are supplemented by a recent analysis by D. de Sonneville-Bordes, used to specify the nature of three Aurignacian layers (layers 6 to 4).

6. This lower layer is poor in tools, and has a few rough Mousterian looking blades and points. Riek placed this layer in the early Aurignacian (Aurignacian-Früh).

5. the middle layer belongs to the typical Aurignacian, with points of bone with a split base, Aurignacian blades, rare keeled and muzzle scrapers and a significant number of burins, a majority of burins on truncation, a character which locates this in the Aurignacian of southwestern France.

4. the upper layer, although it had one or two Gravettian points and an atypical pointe à cran or shouldered point, and although the split base points are not found in this layer, nevertheless belongs to the typical Aurignacian, with a normal development of nosed scrapers, but with a significant decrease in the proportion of chisels.

Hohle Fels map

Map showing the major Middle Paleolithic and Aurignacian sites in the Swabian Jura.

1: Kogelstein;
2: Hohle Fels;
3: Sirgenstein;
4: Geißenklösterle;
5: Brillenhöhle;
6: Große Grotte;
7: Haldenstein;
8: Bockstein (Bockstein-Höhle, Bocksteinloch, Bocksteinschmiede, and Bockstein-Törle);
9: Hohlenstein (Stadel and Bärenhöhle);
10: Vogelherd;
11: Heidenschmiede

(note that the Ach is mislabelled on this map, it is a tributary of the Blau, and should over most of its length shown here, especially as it approaches the Danube, be labelled as the Blau - Don )

Photo: Conard et al. 2011




Lone Valley map

Map showing

• Haldenstein
• Bockstein (Bockstein-Höhle, Bocksteinloch, Bocksteinschmiede, and Bockstein-Törle)
• Hohlenstein (Stadel and Bärenhöhle)
• Vogelherd.

Photo: Krönneck et al. (2004)




Lonetal





Map showing

• Bockstein
• Hohlenstein
• Vogelherd.

It is 1.4 Km in a direct line from Bockstein to Hohlenstein, and 2 Km in a direct line from Hohlenstein to Vogelherd.

Photo: Google Earth




dig site

Vogelherd anthropomorphic statuette - the Vogelherd Venus.

Length 69 mm, depth 10.5 mm, width 19 mm according to Müller-Beck et al. (1987).


However it was in this milieu that a number of quality works of art were collected, a large series of animal sculptures in ivory (mammoth, horse, bison, bears, reindeer, wolf, panther?), and in the upper layer 4, a human figure.

It has a height of 68 mm. It is ivory, carved in fact on one side only and is quite clumsily made, although the flattened head and trunk are relatively well treated, the back line, the camber of the small of the back and a draft gluteal projection are shown, the body has two rows of small cupules and a series of incisions whose meaning remains enigmatic.

A. Leroi-Gourhan class of animal figurines Vogelherd II in style, in principle, in the same period as that which marks, in France, the late-Aurignaco-Perigordian and Early Solutrean. Unfortunately we do not know the exact position of discovery of the statue in the stratigraphy of layer 4, that is to say in the most recent Aurignacian layer. It is not forbidden to think, under these conditions, it may have been associated with the Gravettian points, and it could be contemporaneous with female statuettes of the Western Upper Perigordian. The fact should be emphasised, however, that this model - which has some similarities with that of Trou-Magrite, Belgium - is not likely to be formally considered feminine.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)
Text: Delporte (1993)




venus figurine

Venus sculpture

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: Original, Museum der Universität Tübingen




Text below from: http://www.ice-age-art.de/anfaenge_der_kunst/vogelherd.php

Vogelherd cave is located on the edge of the Lone valley, about 1 km northwest of Stetten and northeast of the Alb-Donau county (Alb-Donau-Kreis). Vogelherd cave is a very scenic place and well worth a visit, as indeed is all of the Lone valley. There is a place for open-air grilling directly above the cave. The cave is not visible from the road and one must first walk over a ridge to gain access to the three entrances on the edge of the Lone valley.

The cave covers an area of 170 square meters. This extremely important site, rich in finds, was first discovered when Stone Age artefacts turned up from a badger’s burrow. The actual size of it only became apparent after the excavations by Gustav Riek in the summer of 1931. The finds range from the Middle Palaeolithic to modern times. The world-renowned ivory carvings originate from the Middle Aurignacian period.






From Spiegel Online International, http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,489776,00.html

35 000-Year-Old Mammoth Sculpture Found in Germany

rjm, 2007.06.20


In southwestern Germany, an American archaeologist and his German colleagues have found the oldest mammoth-ivory carving known to modern science. And even at 35 000 years old, it's still intact.

Archaeologists at the University of Tübingen have recovered the first entirely intact woolly mammoth figurine from the Swabian Jura, a plateau in the state of Baden-Württemberg, thought to have been made by the first modern humans some 35 000 years ago. It is believed to be the oldest ivory carving ever found. "You can be sure," Tübingen archaeologist Nicholas J. Conard told SPIEGEL ONLINE, "that there has been art in Swabia for over 35 000 years."

In total, five mammoth-ivory figurines from the Ice Age were newly discovered at the site of the Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany, a site known to contain primitive artefacts since it was excavated in 1931 by the Tübingen archaeologist Gustav Reik. Over 7 000 sacks of sediment later, archaeologists were again invigorated by the discoveries.

Among the new finds are well-preserved remains of a lion figurine, fragments of a mammoth figurine and two as-yet-unidentified representations. These, the University of Tübingen Web site explains, "count among the oldest and most impressive examples of figurative artworks from the Ice Age."

Conard said that "the excitement and thrill were immense." He and his colleagues Michael Lingnau and Maria Malina in the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology reported their findings in the journal Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg.

The figure of the woolly mammoth is tiny, measuring just 3.7 cm long and weighing a mere 7.5 grams, and 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. The miniature lion is 5.6 cm long, has a extended torso and outstretched neck. It is decorated with approximately 30 finely incised crosses on its spine.

The geological context of the discoveries and radiocarbon dating indicate that the figurines belong to the Aurignacian culture, which refers to an area of southern France and is associated with the arrival of the first modern humans in Europe. Multiple radiocarbon dates from sediment in the Vogelherd Cave yielded ages between 30 000 and 36 000 years ago, the University of Tübingen reports. Some methods give an even older date.

The preliminary results from the excavation will be presented in a special exhibit at the Museum of Prehistory in Blaubeuren from June 24, 2007 to January 13, 2008. In 2009, the figurines will be displayed in a major state exhibition in Stuttgart entitled "Cultures and Art of the Ice Age."






dig site
The figurines were found in 2007 in the spoil from the dig in 1931 by Riek, who completely dug out the site.

Modern practice is to take out a sample only, and leave much of the site for later investigators.

Photo: © Universität Tübingen
Source: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-22586.html




mammoth figurine mammoth figurine
This 37mm long, 7.5 gram figurine, made from mammoth ivory, is some 35 000 years old. It is one of the oldest pieces of art ever found.

(left) as found at the site, (right) cleaned up for public display. On the right and left of the head are small incisions which represent the tusks.

Photo: © Universität Tübingen
Source and text: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-22586.html




mammoth figurine
Another view of the mammoth.

The piece was found in 2007 in the spoil originally excavated from the Vogelherd Cave in 1931. A total of five figurines have been found there.

Small but clearly visible eyes and ears have been carved into the head.

Photo: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.150023071682921.30804.149716745046887&type=1

Source: Probably © Universität Tübingen




mammoth figurine
Left, right, front, back, top and bottom views of the mammoth.

This mammoth is the first intact example found in the Vogelherd Cave. A number of other fragments have been dug up there.

Length 37 mm, weight 7.5 grams.

Photo: © Universität Tübingen
Source and text: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-22586.html




mammoth figurine

This image shows the front and rear views of the mammoth.

The figurine has split longitudinally at a zone of weakness in the mammoth ivory.

Six small incisions on the head are transverse to the longitudinal axis of the animal.

Photo: Rau et al. (2009)




mammoth figurine

The mammoth was found in the overburden from the excavation by Gustav Rieks in 1931.

Aurignacian, length 37 mm, height 27 mm, depth 14 mm, weight 5.3 g

Photo: Silosarg
Permission: Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported




mammoth figurine


The underneath of the mammoth. Note the crosshatching on the soles of the feet.

Photo: Rau et al. (2009)




mammoth figurine


The mammoth is in very good condition, considering its age.

Photo: Rau et al. (2009)




animal figurine

Another version of the mammoth sculpture.

Photo: Original, http://www.landschaftsmuseum.de/Seiten/Lexikon/Kunst_Pal-2.htm









bear figurine

Bear sculpture

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: Original, Museum der Universität Tübingen




bear figurine
Bear sculpture, as above.

Müller-Beck et al. (1987) say that it has been identified as a lion, bear, or rhinoceros.

Length 58 mm, height 24 mm, breadth 14 mm.

Note that the head of this animal has now been discovered and reunited with the body, see the complete sculpture in the photos below.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)




lion figurine
A lion (or possibly a bear) figurine carved from mammoth ivory, now with refitted head. Found at Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany. Approx. 40 000 years old.

Researchers from the University of Tübingen have successfully reattached the newly discovered head of a prehistoric mammoth ivory figurine discovered in 1931.

The head was found during renewed excavations at Vogelherd Cave, site of the original dig in 1931. The recent excavations, between 2005 and 2012, have yielded a number of important finds.

The discovery of this ivory head helps to complete a figurine which now can be recognised as a lion – and demonstrates that it is possible to reassemble often fragmentary figurines from the earlier excavation. The new discovery is presented in the 2013 edition of the journal Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg.

Photo: H. Jensen. © University of Tübingen
Source: http://idw-online.de/pages/de/image?id=209130&size=screen




lion figurine
Vogelherd Cave is located in the Lone Valley (Lonetal) of southwestern Germany and is by far the richest of the four caves in the region that have produced examples of the earliest figurative art, dating as far back as 40 000 years ago. Overall, Vogelherd Cave has yielded more than two dozen figurines and fragments of figurines.

Photo: H. Jensen. © University of Tübingen
Source: http://idw-online.de/pages/de/image?id=209131&size=screen




lion figurine
While the work of fitting together thousands of small fragments of mammoth ivory from Vogelherd is just beginning, the remarkable lion figurine, now with its head, forms an important part of the display of the earliest art at the Museum of the University of Tübingen (MUT) in Hohentübingen Castle.

Professor Nicholas Conard and his excavation assistant Mohsen Zeidi today presented the new discovery and discussed its scientific importance, after which the find rejoined the permanent exhibit at MUT.

Photo: Gerlinde Trinkhausstraße
Source: http://www.gea.de/region+reutlingen/tuebingen/archaeologen+komplettieren+40000+jahre+alte+figur.3269157.htm




lion figurine

This photograph shows the small size of the famous Vogelherd horse and the newly completed lion/bear from Vogelherd.

The horse has the dimensions 48 mm wide, 25 mm high, 7 mm thick.

Photo: Gerlinde Trinkhausstraße
Source: http://www.gea.de/bilder/bildergalerien/40000+jahre+alte+figur+komplettiert.3269182.htm









Vogelherd excavations
Re-excavation of the sediments from Vogelherd Cave.

Photo: Mohsen Zeidi. © University of Tübingen
Source: http://earth-chronicles.ru/news/2013-07-19-47253




animal figurine



Bovid from Vogelherd.

Photo: Rau et al. (2009)




lion figurine
This miniature lion is 56 mm long, has an extended torso and an outstretched neck. It is decorated with approximately 30 finely incised crosses on its spine.

A number of other figurines have likewise been found at the site, says University of Tübingen archaeologist Nicholas J. Conard. They are, says the university Web site, 'among the oldest and most impressive examples of figurative artworks from the Ice Age.'

Photo: © Universität Tübingen
Source and text: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-22586.html




lion figurine
View of the lion from above.

Photo: http://www.epochtimes.de/gallery/2007/11/12/195374-2.html




horse figurine
A mammoth ivory horse from the Aurignacian, about 31 000 BP. Length 50 mm.

(Note that this photo may be of a facsimile. The markings do not match well with those definitely of the original - Don )

Photo: Jochen Duckeck
Text: http://www.showcaves.com/images/Big/R008-001.jpg


horse figurine

Another view of the mammoth ivory horse from Vogelherd. It has been superbly finished, with loving care given to the polishing of the sculpture by a master artist.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)




horse figurine

Another view of the Vogelherd horse sculpture.

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: Original, Museum der Universität Tübingen




horse figurine











The other side of the horse is flat.

Photo: Adam et al. (1980)





This is a very useful animation of the horse, showing all sides.
Photo: http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/museum-schloss/aeltere.html



animal figurine



Animal, Vogelherd.

Photo: Rau et al. (2009)




mammoth figurine

Mammoth sculpture

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: Original, Museum der Universität Tübingen




mammoth figurine

Mammoth sculpture, as above from a different perspective.

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: Original, Museum der Universität Tübingen




mammoth figurine

Mammoth sculpture, as above.

Length 50 mm, height 31 mm, breadth 22 mm.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)




cave lion figurine

Cave lion sculpture

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: Original?, Museum der Universität Tübingen




Cave Lion figurine

Cave Lion sculpture, as above. Note the missing section at the rear of the animal.

Length 68 mm, height 24 mm, breadth 14.5 mm.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)




Cave Lion figurine


Cave Lion sculpture, as above.

Photo: Cook (2013)




Cave Lion head Cave Lion head

Cave Lion head, superbly detailed. It would be very interesting to determine the significance of the crosses carved into many of the animal figurines from Vogelherd.

Length 25 mm, height 18 mm, breadth 6 mm. It is part of a formerly complete statuette.

Photo (left): Müller-Beck et al. (1987)
Photo (right): Cook (2013)




cave lion by Heinrich Harder

Cave Lion by Heinrich Harder

Photo: Heinrich Harder, Public Domain




The Cave Lion was about 10% bigger than the African lion. The cave lion is known from Paleolithic cave paintings, ivory carvings, and clay figurines. These representations indicate that cave lions had rounded, protruding ears, tufted tails, possibly faint tiger-like stripes, and that at least some had a "ruff" or primitive mane around their neck, indicating males.

The cave lion received its common name because large quantities of its remains are found in caves, but it is doubtful whether they lived in them. They probably preferred conifer forests and grasslands, where medium-sized to large herbivores occurred. Fossil footprints of lions, which were found together with those of reindeer, demonstrate that lions once occurred even in subpolar climates. The presence of fully articulated adult cave lion skeletons, deep in cave bear dens, indicates that lions may have occasionally entered dens to prey on hibernating cave bears, with some dying in the attempt.

These active carnivores probably preyed upon the large herbivorous animals of their time, including horses, deer, reindeer, bison and even injured old or young mammoths. Some paintings of them in caves show several hunting together, which suggests the hunting strategy of contemporary lionesses.

Its extinction may have been related to the Quaternary extinction event, which wiped out most of the megafauna prey in those regions.Cave paintings and remains found in the refuse piles of ancient camp sites indicate that they were hunted by early humans, which also may have contributed to their demise.

Text above adapted from Wikipedia


The Cave LionThe cave lion is known from Paleolithic cave paintings, ivory carvings, and clay figurines. These representations indicate that cave lions had rounded, protruding ears, tufted tails, possibly faint tiger-like stripes, and that at least some had a ruff or primitive mane around their neck, indicating males. The cave lion received its common name because large quantities of its remains are found in caves, but it is doubtful whether they lived in them. They probably preferred conifer forests and grasslands, where medium-sized to large herbivores occurred.




animal figurine
This has been identified as a sculpture of a cave Lion.

Length 88 mm, height 34 mm, breadth 11 mm.

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: (looks like a facsimile - Don ), Museum der Universität Tübingen




Hippopotamus

Cave lion.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)




animal figurine

The fragment on the left makes up half the head of the animal figure on the right, showing that the 'lion' was fully three-dimensional, and not a relief as long thought.

Photo Credit: Hilde Jensen, Universität Tübingen

Source: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-fragment-ice-age-ivory-lion.html#nRlv



Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have found an ancient fragment of ivory belonging to a 40,000 year old animal figurine. Both pieces were found in the Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany, which has yielded a number of remarkable works of art dating to the Ice Age. The mammoth ivory figurine depicting a lion was discovered during excavations in 1931. The new fragment makes up one side of the figurine's head, and the sculpture may be viewed at the Tübingen University Museum from 30 July 2014.

'The figurine depicts a lion' says Professor Nicholas Conard of Tübingen University's Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology, and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen. 'It is one of the most famous Ice Age works of art, and until now, we thought it was a relief, unique among these finds dating to the dawn of figurative art. The reconstructed figurine clearly is a three dimensional sculpture.'

The new fragment was discovered when today's archaeologists revisited the work of their predecessors from the 1930s. '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.' He points out that the 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, dating back to 40 000 years ago. Several dozen figurines and fragments of figurines have been found in the Vogelherd alone, and researchers are piecing together thousands of mammoth ivory fragments.

Text above: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-fragment-ice-age-ivory-lion.html#nRlv




animal figurine

Animal sculpture, covered with abstract designs.

Photo: Ralph Frenken

Source: Original?, Museum der Universität Tübingen




animal figurine

Animal sculpture, as above.

Length 63.5 mm, height 24.5 mm, breadth 17 mm.

The head may have been purposefully removed.

Photo: Cook (2013)




animal figurine

Animal sculptures

Photo: Ralph Frenken

(All three of these sculptures appear to me to be museum quality facsimiles - Don )

Source: Museum der Universität Tübingen




Mammoth bas relief

Bas relief of a mammoth, carved from bone.

Length 69 mm, height 29 mm, breadth 36 mm.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)




Bison

Bison.

Length 72 mm, height 52.5 mm, breadth 13.5 mm.

Photo: Müller-Beck et al. (1987)




jewellery vogelherd

Jewellery found at the Vogelherd site.

Photo: http://www.archaeopark-vogelherd.de/einzigartige-funde




fish?

A new find from Vogelherd. This may be a fish.

Note also the distinctive decoration of small cupules, something which is very often used in the Vogelherd figurines.

Photo: Rau et al. (2009)




Vogelherd dig

Gustav Riek (left) and an unknown person standing in front of the southwest entrance to Vogelherd at beginning of excavation in 1931.

Note tags in profile marking archaeological strata.

Photo and text: Conard et al. (2003)




Vogelherd dig

View of Vogelherd from the west. Visible are the Southwest entrance and on the right side of photograph, the south entrance.

Photo after Riek (1934)

Text: Conard et al. (2003)


Vogelherd dig

This is listed as the Western entrance of Vogelherd Cave on Wikipedia, though it is actually what is known as the Southwest entrance.

Photo: The Knife, 27th September 2011
Permission: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons license Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


Riek at Vogelherd dig

Gustav Riek in front of the southwest entrance to Vogelherd during excavation in 1931.

Photo: http://earth-chronicles.ru/news/2013-07-19-47253

(Note the suit, tie and cigar, supervising the workers as they toiled - oh, how excavations used to be run! - Don )




References

  1. Adam, K., Kurz, R., 1980: Eiszeitkunst im süddeutschen Raum, Theiss.
  2. Conard, N., Niven L., Mueller K., Stuart A., 2003: The Chronostratigraphy of the Upper Paleolithic Deposits at Vogelherd, Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte, — 12 (2003) 73
  3. Cook, J., 2013: Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind, The British Museum, 18 Feb 2013, ISBN-10: 0714123331, ISBN-13: 978-0714123332
  4. Delporte H., 1993: L’image de la femme dans l’art préhistorique, Éd. Picard (1993)
  5. Delporte H., 1993: L’image de la femme dans l’art préhistorique, Éd. Picard (1993)
  6. Müller-Beck, H. and Albrecht, G. (Ed.), 1987: Die Anfänge der Kunst vor 30000 Jahren Theiss: Stuttgart.
  7. Niven L., 2003: The role of mammoths in Upper Palaeolithic economies of southern Germany, In: J. Zilhão, F. d’Errico (Eds), The Chronology of the Aurignacian and of the Transitional Technocomplexes: Dating, Stratigraphies, Cultural Implications.Trabalhos de Arqueologia 33: 199-211.
  8. Pushkina D., 2007: The Pleistocene easternmost distribution in Eurasia of the species associated with the Eemian Paleooloxodon antiquus assemblage, Mammal Rev. 2007, Volume 37, No. 3, 224-245.
  9. Rau, S., Naumann D., Barth M., Mühleis Y., Bleckmann C., 2009: Eiszeit: Kunst und Kultur, Thorbecke, 2009, 396p. ISBN: 978-3-7995-0833-9
  10. Riek, G., 1934: Die Eiszeitjägerstation am Vogelherd im Lontal, Tübingen: Akademische Buchhandlung Franz F. Heine.


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