The Lion-Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel

A great example of prehistoric art, and one of the oldest artworks, the Lion-Man was found in 1939 in the Stadel-Höhle im Hohlenstein Cave. It was carved out of mammoth ivory using a flint stone knife, dated to 30,000-35,000 years ago.

The lion is represented by the head, the long shapedbody and the arms formed like hind legs. The human part is represented by the legs and feet, as well as the upright position.

It is about 30 centimeters tall and weighs 250 g. Its creator polished it with saliva and leather. According to an experiment, it likely took about 320 hours to carve the figure.

The original was heavily damaged by the discoverer himself, the geologist Otto Völzing. When excavating, he actually stroke and broke the statue. In 1988 it was reconstructed from 220 fragments but 30% was still missing. In 2011 a new reconstruction was made by adding 1,000 found new fragments found in the cave after sifting through all of the rubble from 1939. The result was an almost complete Lion-Man! The original is in the Ulmer Museum, Ulm.

The Lion-Man in 1988 (L) and 2011 (R)

The Lion-Man in 1988 (L) and 2011 (R)

What is it?

  • A mythical creature?
  • A shaman under an animal hide?
  • Is he standing on tiptoes? Is he dancing?
  • There is a series of stripes on the left upper arm. Are they marks of scarification, like they do in some African populations today?
  • The genitalia are unrecognizable. Is it a Lion-Man or a Lion-Woman?
Dancing jaguar shaman (L). Stripes on Lion-Man (R)

Dancing jaguar shaman (L). Stripes on Lion-Man (R)

Two similar statues

  • A female figurine with a deer head from Las Caldas cave in Asturias, Spain, dated 14 KYA.
Venus de Las Caldas

Venus de Las Caldas

  • Sejmet, the Egyptian warrior goddess and the goddess of healing, year 4000 BP. She was depicted as a lioness:


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