30 January 2013

Ceramic feline figure from Dolni Věstonice calls into question British Museum claim of "the first portrait of a woman" and informs portable rock art finds in France and USA

The British Museum is promoting an exhibition of Ice Age art and released information which the Daily Mail and other news outlets have carried:

Face of the 26,000-year-old woman! FIRST EVER portrait of a woman was carved into a tusk of a woolly mammoth (and it's smaller than a thumb)
-New Ice Age art show will include the earliest yet found representation of a woman's face
-4.8cm tall carving is so detailed experts believe the subject may have suffered a stroke


In the prior posting I demonstrated how the features observed and described on this carving are not unique to it and are probably not an actual portrait of a real woman as the British Museum claims. It is probably not related to the disfigured woman triple burial found at the Dolni Věstonice site, seen in photo below.

General view of the 3 person burial, disfigured woman in center. 
Photo source: Display, Dolní Věstonice Museum

This ceramic feline head from the Dolni Věstonice site (photo by Don Hitchcock) also exhibits differences in the expression of the eyes, matching the ivory carving of the human head and face which also shows the known portable rock art motif of "one eye open, one eye closed or missing." It is almost always the left eye.

This ceramic artifact, from the same site, calls into question the British Museum's claim of having identified the first known portrait based on its "absolutely individual characteristics." The facial characteristics the British Museum described as "a dodgy eye" are not unique to the ivory carving in any way, and are not even unique to the site which produced the artifact they plan to display as "a real woman's portrait."  My personal opinion is that this claim should be publicly corrected and withdrawn. Or, might the British Museum suggest this lion may have suffered a stroke?

Zoomorphic pottery figurine. Possibly a feline. Photos: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Display, Dolní Věstonice Museum
Thanks to Don Hitchcock of Don's Maps for permission to display his photos here

Compare these two suspected rock feline heads to the two ceramic feline images directly above them, respectively. To my eye, they compare favorably as "visages" of the feline form seen in ceramics. The one on the left is documented by portable rock art investigator Denis Argaut, France. The flint and crystal feline head at right was found by an anonymous rock collector at Flint Ridge, in Ohio, USA. It is thought to be a representation of the American Lion as seen in an earlier post.

Ceramics may be used to inform other finds- from ivory artifacts to suspected portable rock art pieces.

-kbj

1 comment:

  1. Could the feline be interpreted as her totem animal since both sport a defective or injured eye? Fascinating read.

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