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Digging Up Stone Age Art

Art is everywhere, from paintings in the doctor's office to sculptures in the park. You've probably molded shapes out of clay or drawn pictures of your own pets at one time or another. Art is such a big part of our lives, in fact, that scientists want to know when people started making it and why. Now, researchers in Germany have found some clues in three of the oldest little sculptures yet uncovered. Dating back to between 35,000 and 30,000 years ago, the figurines resemble a horse's head, a duck-like water bird, and a creature that is half-lion, half-human. Each is about as long as an adult's thumb, and all three are made out of mammoth ivory. Nicholas J. Conrad of the University of Tübingen in Germany and his colleagues found the pieces in a cave in southwestern Germany called Hohle Fels. No human fossils have been found near the artwork. However, Conrad thinks that people moved into the area around 40,000 years ago and used the caves there during the winter and spring. The new German finds come from a time when artwork began to flourish in Europe. Conrad suspects that the figurines were made for use in supernatural rituals. For now, there's no way to know for sure. Just think, though. Every time you doodle, color, or sculpt, you're joining a long line of artists, dating back thousands and thousands of years.—E. Sohn

Digging Up Stone Age Art
Digging Up Stone Age Art








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