The Mystery of the Lion Man sculpture
In 1939 in Germany, in a cave inside a mountain, the oldest sculpture in the world was found. It represents a lion head human and it is carved out of mammoth ivory and is about 30cm in height. At first glance, the sculpture appears remarkably similar to an Egyptian statue. Originally the statue was carbon dated to be more than 32,000 years old.
However recent studies and dating has shown that it is probably more than 40,000 years old. The reconstruction of the statue from small fragments of ivory is still going on and the date is to be verified by dating unused ivory pieces.
The study provides a new understanding about the degree of social organisation of our ancient ancestors. It has been estimated that the sculpture would have taken about two months’ to carve using flint tools, which would mean that the carver was only working and must have been supported by others in the village who went out hunting and gathering. This means that village-life involved some kind of social system in which different roles were allocated.
What makes this statue unique is that it is the only item from that era involving an actual carved figurine rather than just lines or patterns. And the question is, why? What motivated one of our ancient ancestors some 40,000 years ago to spend time to create a male figurine with the face of a lion while all others were carving lines and patterns? Such carvings involving the body of a human and the head of an animal is a trend that was repeated more than 30,000 years later in Egypt, India, the Americas and many other places around the world.
So was it just a vivid imagination of an ancient human putting a lion head on a human body as archaeologists suggest? Or was it a representation of another more advanced being with strange characteristics, maybe wearing a mask that in the mind of an ancient person would remind them of a lion? We know that many similar representations seen in statues of the past resemble beings in strange suits that could be interpreted as being of extra-terrestrial origin. Some scientists have suggested that the Lion Man could be linked to shamanism and the spirit world.
By John Black