The oldest sculpture of an equine

In 1931 a Paleolithic cave was discovered in southern Germany, in the Lone Valley. It was called the Volgelherd cave. There were artifacts from different periods. The oldest were about 140,000 years old. In addition, there was the oldest sculpture of an equine.

The oldest sculpture of an equine, the Volgelherd horse.
The oldest sculpture of an equine, the horse of Volgelherd.

Mammoth, lions, horses

From 2005 the site was taken over by the University of Tübingen. It found several figurines and even human bones that are about 5,000 years old. Among them, sculptures representing a mammoth and a cave lion torso.
Most interesting is the figure of a wild horse depicted with its head bowed. It is called the Vogelherd Horse and has been dated at about 32,000 years old. It is the oldest known sculpture of an equine. It is 4.8 centimeters long by 2.5 centimeters high and 0.7 centimeters wide. It has barely visible X-shaped incisions from head to tail.
The piece is broken along the longitudinal axis, so it is only visible in half relief. Experts believe that this break was intentional by the author at the time of carving. The sculptor wanted to represent an Equus caballus germanicus or jungle horse. It is a subspecies of prehistoric horse.

An impressive mammoth is among the collection.
An impressive mammoth is among the collection.

In ivory

Another sculpture found in the Vogelherd Cave represents an adult woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). It is made of mammoth ivory. It is approximately 50 millimeters long. It was found with broken hind legs and trunk. Like the horse, it must have been intended to serve as a pendant. This figurine was dated between 30,000 and 35,000 years ago.
When the first statuettes were discovered in 1931 they were considered the oldest figurative works of art in the world. More recently they have been described as the oldest in Europe. However, modern discoveries, such as the one made in the Denisova Cave, challenge that qualification. However, the equine sculpture does seem to meet this condition.

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