Found the oldest in East Asia, a work of sculpture

Archaeologists have discovered in China a small statuette of a bird older than 13 thousand years. It is the oldest specimen of sculptural art in East Asia. A description of the findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

The figurine was found in 2005 in the town of Linzin in Henan province. Chinese archaeologists under the leadership of Janana Lee (Li Zhanyang) from Shandong University studied the sequence of deposits containing eleven cultural layers age of 120 thousand years ago to the bronze age. One of the layers was broken in 1958, when digging a well, but all the excavated material was folded in a pile nearby.

Scientists have sifted through pile material and found in it pieces of black flint, similar to those present in the pristine layer, and a few artifacts — pottery shards, animal bones and charred figurine of a bird on a pedestal carved out of one of those bones. One of the bones had traces of chiselling, such as the sculpture of a bird.

Using the results of radiocarbon Dating for 28 samples of bone, the researchers determined the age of the figures with 13.4 and 13.2 thousand years. Prior to this, the oldest sculpture in East Asia were considered Chinese jade bird Neolithic age about five thousand years. The oldest examples in the world volume of art — figures of animals and people carved from mammoth ivory, found in Europe and are between the ages 40-38 thousands of years.

"This discovery identificeret original artistic tradition of the representation of birds in Chinese art, pushing her for more than 8500 years back centuries, the authors write in the article. — Figurine differs technically and stylistically from the other samples found in Western Europe and Siberia, and it can be a link between younger Chinese sculptures and famous examples of Paleolithic".

The authors note that even this one finds enough to understand that in East Asia in the Paleolithic formed its own unique artistic tradition, unlike its images on ancient culture of European and Siberian peoples.

In collaboration with colleagues from France, Norway and Israel, Chinese scientists have explored the figure with the help of modern analytical techniques such as confocal microscopy and computer microtomography. This allowed the scientists to reconstruct the Paleolithic artist's approach to making sculpture and the techniques of material processing.

Only the researchers identified four cutting methods in which the processed surface, which required, according to the authors, the alternation of different instruments and movements.

The authors note that the figure of Linzin the only Paleolithic three-dimensional object carved from burnt bone and depicting a bird standing on a pedestal. It is also the only carved artifact from the Paleolithic era, for which, thanks to exceptional safety, were able to recreate in detail to document all the stages of its manufacture.