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Hallo Löwenmensch
September 17, 2010 12:17 PM   Subscribe

The 32.000 year old artifact was discovered in the form of hundreds of small fragments in a cave in Stadel im Hohlenstein in Germany on the 25th of August 1939. The fact that the fragments belonged to a figurine was discovered in 1969 by Prof. Dr. Joachim Hahn. He mentioned a similarity of several small peices and puzzled a first version of the figurine with nearly 200 fragments. Meet the Lion Man.

via Pathologically Polymathic and Slouching towards Bethlehem.
posted by Substrata (42 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is so fucking cool.
posted by felix betachat at 12:25 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


So western Europeans of the Upper Paleolithic era were the first furries?
posted by eviltwin at 12:28 PM on September 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow. Just ... wow.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:31 PM on September 17, 2010


Now that's a jigsaw puzzle with missing parts.. Very cool.
posted by jgaiser at 12:33 PM on September 17, 2010


Unboxed and missing the Sword of Omens and claw shield? Worthless.
posted by griphus at 12:36 PM on September 17, 2010 [35 favorites]


So western Europeans of the Upper Paleolithic era were the first furries?

I know this was supposed to be ha-ha funny but you know what? Anthropomorphism is wide-spread enough across separate human cultures and vast oceans of time to make me wonder if there is some kind of instinctual component.

I know, I know, furries are dumb and stupid and weird, etc. etc.. But what if they really are tapping into some kind of ... I dunno ... instinctual collective unconscious or something?
posted by Avenger at 12:46 PM on September 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


They're tapping something, amirite?
posted by vibrotronica at 12:48 PM on September 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


The 32.000 year old artifact...

Wow, that's some serious precision, but I guess if the artifact is only 32 years old, records are probably pretty good.

(yeah. I know)
posted by gurple at 12:52 PM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Joachim Hahn interpreted the figurine as being male. Elisabeth Schmid derived from some details that the figure was a woman and called it lionlady.

I'd say the big wad between the legs is more than a little suggestive of male gender.
posted by Faze at 12:53 PM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Does anyone else picture Max von Sydow glaring at this thing in an Iraqi desert landscape while snarling dogs fight in the background?
posted by fleetmouse at 12:57 PM on September 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know, I know, furries are dumb and stupid and weird, etc. etc.. But what if they really are tapping into some kind of ... I dunno ... instinctual collective unconscious or something?

Since the beginning of time, mankind has yearned to dress in a chenille bodysuit and bone high school mascots.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:01 PM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pez dispenser.
posted by pracowity at 1:02 PM on September 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'd say the big wad between the legs is more than a little suggestive of male gender.

Yet the figure is sans mane. I don't know much about cave lions, but aren't males adorned with manes?
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 1:06 PM on September 17, 2010


Does anyone else picture Max von Sydow glaring at this thing in an Iraqi desert landscape while snarling dogs fight in the background?

...what, if anything, are you referencing, because I really want to see it.
posted by griphus at 1:08 PM on September 17, 2010


It's interesting enough to think that Germany had lions not too terribly long ago.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:10 PM on September 17, 2010


The Exorcist

most impressing opening shots.
posted by Substrata at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2010


"...Anthropomorphism is wide-spread enough across separate human cultures and vast oceans of time to make me wonder if there is some kind of instinctual component."

Absolutely, anthropomorphism is a basic tendency of human nature. There's a big section of our minds dedicated to pattern recognition, and the patterns we're most inclined to see are those made by other humans. We see faces in clouds and mountains, perceive violent storms as angry, and look for human traits in other living creatures. It's a way of controlling things, or at least our perception of things, to imagine that human traits are built right into the universe, and we're not so much alone but are instead part of a system that is understandable and empathetic. I guess the Lion Man shows that this pattern recognition was going on at least thirty millenniums back. They were a lot like us.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:12 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The 32.000 year old artifact...

Wow, that's some serious precision, but I guess if the artifact is only 32 years old, records are probably pretty good.


US-centrism rears its ugly head again!

Seriously, this is cool; my first thoughts were the same as ZenMasterThis. I hoist my beer to you!
posted by TedW at 1:16 PM on September 17, 2010


In The Golden Bough, Frazier writes about how the two ur-religions were the cult of the bear and the cult of the panther, and how artifacts and modern traces from both can be found all across the world. This would seem to be a remnant of the panther cult.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:17 PM on September 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


They address the lack of mane in the "Lion" link above. Apparently male European cave lions lacked a distinctive mane like African lions have.

Also, very cool post. Thanks for sharing.
posted by friendlyjuan at 1:20 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow people looked really different back then.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:34 PM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


There was something very similar to this that was featured in an interview during Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I heard the interviewee say something about it being a reproduction but it was focused on and shown in close-ups as if the real deal. Anyone know if it was a reproduction of the posted lion man?
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 1:51 PM on September 17, 2010


Not to be confused with Little Lion Man.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:54 PM on September 17, 2010


It's interesting enough to think that Germany had lions not too terribly long ago.

Not just Germany. Lions were widespread in England until around 10,000 years ago.
posted by Justinian at 1:57 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about cave lions, but aren't males adorned with manes?

Oh, you bet they are.
posted by hippybear at 2:23 PM on September 17, 2010


I thought it might be an Achewood action figure with poor articulation. Some people are just ahead of their time. Others are way ahead of their time.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:26 PM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Faze: "I'd say the big wad between the legs is more than a little suggestive of male gender."

Ancient European female representations from more recent eras often portrayed women with extremely large vulvas and long, dangling labias (an anatomic variation now extremely uncommon in European ethnic groups, but still common in some insular African ethnic groups). The possibility of labial modification may also be a factor here. Therefore, as with the Venus figures that enhance female sexual characteristics, the "big wad" may in fact be an artistically enhanced representation of a female genital.
posted by meehawl at 2:48 PM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Yet the figure is sans mane. I don't know much about cave lions, but aren't males adorned with manes?"

Not juvenile ones.
posted by Sukiari at 3:30 PM on September 17, 2010


Yet the figure is sans mane. I don't know much about cave lions, but aren't males adorned with manes?

European cave lions were virtually maneless:

The cave lion is known from Paleolithic cave paintings, ivory carvings, and clay figurines. These representations indicate that cave lions had rounded, protruding ears, tufted tails, possibly faint tiger-like stripes, and that at least some had a "ruff" or primitive mane around their neck, indicating males.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:32 PM on September 17, 2010


Unboxed and missing the Sword of Omens and claw shield? Worthless.
posted by griphus at 3:36 PM on September 17


This important artifact does not deserve your snarf.
posted by orme at 5:54 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see what you did there.
posted by freecellwizard at 6:15 PM on September 17, 2010


The story of Beowulf makes much more sense to me if we take Hrothgar and his thanes out of their hall and move them back a couple of centuries into the mouth of a large cave, and recast Grendel and his 'dam' as cave lions living in the depths of that cave.
posted by jamjam at 8:36 PM on September 17, 2010


Or cave bears, I suppose.

If we make them bears we can preserve the ripping off of Grendel's 'arm', and the deep message of the saga becomes the defeat of one the old gods (see Bear Worship) by the new (Christ).
posted by jamjam at 8:53 PM on September 17, 2010


Is it fair, though, to cast Beowulf as a Christian hero? Some say no.
posted by hippybear at 9:02 PM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Avenger and others might find this Boston Globe article interesting:
Animals make us human. She means this not in a metaphorical way — that animals teach us about loyalty or nurturing or the fragility of life or anything like that — but that the unique ability to observe and control the behavior of other animals is what allowed one particular set of Pleistocene era primates to evolve into modern man.

The hunting of animals and the processing of their corpses drove the creation of tools, and the need to record and relate information about animals was so important that it gave rise to the creation of language and art. ...Our love of pets is an artifact of that evolutionary interdependence.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:18 PM on September 17, 2010


<ozzy>I AM LION MAN</ozzy>
posted by The Tensor at 9:52 PM on September 17, 2010


Dude had some bone, some flint, and some spare time. He carved a lion. It was shitty. His friends laughed and said, Dude, you carve like shit. So he carved some more. He got pretty good at it. He began to experiment with new forms. Lion-men. Or labial Lion-women.

His friends said, Dude, seriously, those are kinda cool.

Then one day the other tribe from the valley on the other side of the mountains came up and killed them all, and smashed the lion carvings, because, well, what the fuck else are you going to do when you eradicate another tribe? You kill them and smash their shit. Besides, if you take their art back home, it might have bad juju on it, even though you know the Mrs. would like a cool looking lion-man. Or worse, you don't want the Mrs. pointing out what a dumbass you are for bringing bad juju home. So, uh, smash it. Then, if she complains you didn't bring anything good home from the raid, you can say, well, yeah, there was some cool lion-men carvings, but they broke.
posted by Xoebe at 11:35 PM on September 17, 2010


Very interesting, hippybear.

I was completely unaware of Tolkien's role in raising Beowulf into the canon:

It should also be noted that the poem was often overlooked as a literary benchmark until J.R.R. Tolkien's 1936 criticism Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics suggested that the poem be considered as such.
posted by jamjam at 11:39 PM on September 17, 2010


Justinian, I am sceptical of your statement about lions living in England 10,000 BP. Can you provide a reference?
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 5:41 AM on September 18, 2010


'Super sized lions' roamed UK in ice age
posted by hippybear at 7:13 AM on September 18, 2010


Justinian, I am sceptical of your statement about lions living in England 10,000 BP

Hippybear gave one reference. here is another. Yes, wikipedia but the claims are sourced in the footnotes. Taken together I think there is good evidence that there were lions in the British Isles during the time period in question.
posted by Justinian at 12:39 PM on September 18, 2010


There's a lot of restoration (done in putty, you can see the color difference) around the face. The original may have looked very different.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:06 PM on September 18, 2010


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