Carved bison bone dredged up from bottom of North Sea

A 13500-year-old carved bison bone, which was dredged up from the bottom of the North Sea, was announced to be the oldest work of art found in the Netherlands.

The 13500-year-old carved bison bone (by Rijksmuseum van Oudheden)

The bone has been caught in the nets by a Dutch fishing vessel in 2005. The artefact is covered with a zigzag pattern. The fishermen who discovered it passed to archaeologists at the Leiden archaeological museum. Carbon isotope analysis showed the bone to be 13500 years old and part of a culture that decorated animal bones with zigzag and herringbone motives. Only three other similarly carved objects have been discovered so far: a horse’s jaw in Wales, deer antlers in Northern France and moose antlers in Poland. According to the researchers, these objects were not used as tools but belong in a ritualistic context. The decoration on the Dutch bone shows a typical geometrical motif of the period. What the carvings mean is unclear. Some have interpreted the zigzags as symbols of movement, rhythm, water or a need for symmetry.

(after Rijksmuseum van Oudheden & Dutch News)

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