Ancient History

37000

BCE

The lion-man sculpture is a 12 inch high figurine carved of ivory depicting a standing man with a lion face, leading me to think that men saw other apex carnivores as equals.

Lowenmensch figurine

The Löwenmensch figurine or Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel is a prehistoric ivory sculpture discovered in the Hohlenstein-Stadel, a German cave in 1939. The German name, Löwenmensch, meaning "lion-human", is used most frequently because it was discovered and is exhibited in Germany.

The lion-headed figurine is the oldest-known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world, and one of the oldest-known uncontested example of figurative art. It has been determined by carbon dating of the layer in which it was found to be between 35,000 and 40,000 years old, and therefore is associated with the archaeological Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic.[1] It was carved out of mammoth ivory using a flint stone knife. Seven parallel, transverse, carved gouges are on the left arm.

After several reconstructions that have incorporated newly found fragments, the figurine stands 31.1 cm (12.2 in) tall, 5.6 cm (2.2 in) wide, and 5.9 cm (2.3 in) thick. It currently is displayed in the Museum Ulm, Germany.


The Löwenmensch figurine lay in a chamber almost 30 metres from the entrance of the Stadel cave and was accompanied by many other remarkable objects. Bone tools and worked antlers were found, along with jewellery consisting of pendants, beads, and perforated animal teeth. The chamber was probably a special place, possibly used as a storehouse or hiding-place, or maybe as an area for cultic rituals.[16]

A similar but smaller lion-headed human sculpture was found along with other animal figurines and several flutes in the nearby Vogelherd Cave. This leads to the possibility that the Löwenmensch figurines were important in the mythology of humans of the early Upper Paleolithic. Archaeologist Nicholas Conard has suggested that the second lion-figurine "lends support to the hypothesis that Aurignacian people may have practised shamanism ... and that it should be considered strong evidence for fully symbolic communication and cultural modernity".[17]

The figurine shares certain similarities with later French cave paintings, which also show hybrid creatures with human-like lower bodies and animal heads such as the "Sorcerer" from the Trois Frères in the Pyrenees or the "Bison-man" from the Grotte de Gabillou in the Dordogne.[18][19]

Unnamed Road, 89176 Asselfingen, Germany

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