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 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)