First recorded human portrait found carved on woolly mammoth tusk
Scientists theorize that picture of 26,000-year-old woman was an elderly stroke victim
earliest known portrait of a human is carved upon a woolly mammoth tusk
of 26,000 years ago. The amazing find will go on display shortly at the
British Museum. Smaller than the average thumb, the portrait was
created in the middle of the last Ice Age, in a valley in what is now
Moravia in the Czech Republic, using stone tools.
Approximately six inches tall, the portrait is carved from tusk ivory, and was damaged during excavation, causing the large missing chunk visible on the left hand side of its body.
Striking examples will be displayed as works of art rather than archaeological finds, alongside major works of modern art for comparison. "All art is the product of the remarkable structure and organization of the modern brain," curator of the exhibition Jill Cook says.
"By looking at the oldest European sculptures and drawings we are looking at the deep history of how our brains began to store, transform and communicate ideas as visual images. The exhibition will show that we can recognize and appreciate these images.
"Even if their messages and intentions are lost to us, the skill and artistry will still astonish the viewer."
Asked about the significance of the tusk portrait, Cook says "The reason we say it is a portrait is because she has absolutely individual characteristics. She has one beautifully engraved eye; on the other, the lid comes just over and there\'s just a slit. Perhaps she had a stroke, or palsy, or was injured in some way.
"In any case, she had a dodgy eye. And she has a dimple on her chin: this is an image of a real living woman," Cook says.
Fully modern people whose brains had evolved the complex super highway of the pre-frontal cortex began to arrive in Europe out of Africa just after 50,000 years ago
Approximately six inches tall, it is carved from tusk ivory, and was damaged during excavation, causing the large missing chunk visible on the left hand side of its body. The engraving also displays the earliest representation found of spun thread, as the carving shows a skirt hanging from below the hips.
Included in the display is a 23,000-year-old sculpture of an abstract figure from Lespugue, France, which fascinated legendary Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and influenced his Thirties sculptural works.
Picasso was so fascinated with this "cubist" piece, crafted from mammoth ivory, that he kept two copies of it.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Mammoth, portrait, stroke, woman, exhibit
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