LONDON—About 35,000 years ago, prehistoric artists across Europe suddenly discovered the female form—and the art world has never been the same. The explosion of voluptuous female figurines sculpted out of limestone, ivory, and clay directly inspired Picasso and Matisse. Researchers have debated the figurines’ meaning for decades. Now, two scientists think they have the answer. Presenting their work here last week at the European Palaeolithic Conference, they claimed that the objects started off as celebrations of the female form, then later became symbols that tied together a growing human society.
The talk, part of a special exhibition on Ice Age art at London’s British Museum, surveyed the more than 20,000 year-history of female figurines, which are found at dozens of archaeological sites from Russia to France. Read more.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s Antiquities Authority says archeologists have unearthed two 9,500-year-old figurines near Jerusalem that help shed light on religion and society during the stone age.
It says archaeologists unearthed the two rare figurines last week in Tel Motza between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during a dig ahead of the expansion of a major highway in the area.
One of the objects is shaped like a ram and made of limestone. The other depicts an ox and is made of dolomite. Both are 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) long.
Wednesday’s statement says the figurines could have been either good luck hunting icons or a representation of the animal’s domestication. (source)
The archaeological research team working at Marcahuamachuco, Peru, has announced what it calls the “first important finding” in determining the site’s historical process: a collection of 10 metal figurines and many other ornamental objects, believed to be part of an offering made during the construction of the site.
Jesus Holguin, director of the archaeological team, said that the figurines represent males dressed in hats, earmuffs and clothing. The figurines, some are which are sitting cross-legged, would have been manufactured by applying a thin sheet of metal to a solid cast of stone or wood, then tapping and shaping as required. Among the ornamental objects discovered are earrings, necklaces, tupus (needles), and beads that could have been attached to canvases or banners. Read more.
LAHORE: About 224 artifacts dating as far back as the fifth century have been discovered from a 25-foot high mound in Sangalwala Tibia village, 12km from Kamalia in Toba Tek Singh district.
These include terracotta bowls, animal and human figurines, clay beads, iron-made household items, coins, copper bangles and stone objects. Human remains have also been discovered.
Archaeology Department has been excavating the mound for two years. The first phase began in March 2010 and concluded in May 2010 with large mud bricks and most of the pottery uncovered. The second phase lasted between December 2010 and early 2011. A furnace and some two-storey structures were unearthed. The third phase of excavation began in mid-February 2012 and will finish by June this year. Most the the relics have been discovered in this phase.
Archaeology Department deputy director Afzal Khan said that the area had been examined by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1940 and declared a reserved archaeological site. Read more.
TRIPOLI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi’s forces tried to flee Tripoli with a sack of ancient Roman artifacts in hopes of selling them abroad to help fund their doomed fight, Libya’s new leaders said Saturday as they displayed the recovered objects for the first time.
The director of the state antiquities department, Saleh Algabe, hailed the find of 17 pieces, mostly small stone heads, as an important recovery of national treasures.
The pieces included a female figurine evocative of ancient fertility symmbols, several small stone human heads and two ornate terracotta fragments. Algabe said the figurines were likely used in pagan worship and dated back to the second and third centuries A.D., when a swathe of North Africa belonged to the Roman Empire. Read more.
A COLLECTION of ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman figurines and miniature amulets are on their way home from Australia, reports Nevine El-Aref.
This week Egypt is celebrating the restitution of 122 ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman artefacts that have been recovered from Australia. All the items, which vary from miniature amulets to larger bronze statues from the Neolithic to the Graeco-Roman eras, were stolen several years ago from archaeological sites in Egypt. The handover ceremony was hosted by Egyptian Ambassador to Australia Omar Metwalli at the embassy premises in Canberra.
Mustafa Amin, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told a press conference that the objects were hidden for almost a decade inside the storehouses of the Mossgreen Auction hall. Read more.
A pair of carved stone ducks unearthed at Vespasian’s Camp near Stonehenge are believed to be the oldest known figurines found in the UK, and are amongst other findings that suggest the sacred site was in use several thousand years before the megalith itself was constructed.
Led by archeologist David Jacques at The Open University, several students uncovered a hoard of artifacts from the mid-Stone Age, including a ceremonial dagger, the remains of an aurochs feast, and more than 5,000 flints and tools.
“We thought it was probably a mixed cache of early prehistoric tools, and assumed some were contemporary with Stonehenge,” Jacques said in a press release.
“When we took them back to Cambridge and a number of experts suggested they were all Mesolithic, we started to get very excited.” Read more.
Cambridge scientists dig up evidence of beautiful marble figurines broken then buried by Greeks 4,500 years ago
To say it has been an archaeological mystery may be an understatement: why are fragments of beautiful but deliberately smashed bronze age figurines buried in shallow pits on a small, rocky Greek island whose main inhabitants have always been goats?
Today, academics at Cambridge University will release findings that shed light on the 4,500-year-old puzzle of Keros, a tiny Cycladic island in the Aegean.
It appears Keros was the ceremonial destination for a ritual that involved islanders breaking prized possessions and making a pilgrimage with fragments for burial.
“It is rather remarkable,” said Professor Colin Renfrew, who led the most recent excavations.
“We believe that the breaking of statues and other goods was a ritual and that Keros was chosen as a sanctuary to preserve the effects.” Read more.