13,500 years old bird figurine discovered in China, a game changer for prehistoric art

Written by Oscar Netherlands, CNN

According to research published on Wednesday, a Stone Age bird figurine unearthed in China may be a “missing link” in our prehistoric understanding of art.

Dating back about 13,500 years ago, the statue is the oldest example of three-dimensional art known about 8,500 years ago in East Asia before other discoveries in the region.

The figurine, described as “in a state of extraordinary protection,” was found in an archaeological site in Lingjing, Henan province, in the center of China. Hand carved from burnt animal bone using stone tools.

Researchers say that the statue depicts a bird on a plinth and points to deliberate signs where the creature’s eyes and bill will be. The bird’s oversized tail is thought to be made to prevent the figurine from leaning forward when laid on a surface.

The bird figurine is the oldest sculpture found in East Asia.

The bird figurine is the oldest sculpture found in East Asia. Credit: Francesco d’Errico / Luc Doyon

Much older artifacts were discovered in Europe. mammoth ivory figures It is believed that the South German was over 40,000 years old from the Swabian Jura region. But much less is known about the emergence of sculptural representations in other parts of the world.

“This discovery defines an original artistic tradition and pushes the representation of birds back in China art more than 8,500 years,” the authors said in a press release. Said. “The figurine is technologically and stylistically different from other examples found in Western Europe and Siberia, and there may be an incomplete link that traces the origin of the Chinese sculpture until the Paleolithic period.”

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Analysis techniques

Scientists used CT scans to reveal the carving techniques used by the Paleolithic sculptor, as well as use radiocarbon to determine the age of the object. They found evidence that etching, gauging, scraping and scraping with stone tools were used to produce the figurine.

The excavation was led by experts from colleges in France, Israel and Norway, as well as researchers from East China Shandong University. Li Zhanyang, who led the study, has been digging the area since 2005. Other discoveries include pottery pieces, burnt animal remains, and ostrich egg necklaces.

Li contributed to various archaeological findings in Lingjing. old vehicles and two skulls It belongs to an extinct early human species. In 2019, two carved bonesHe was also in the region of 125,000 years ago.

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