A sculpted and polished phallus found in a German cave is among the
earliest representations of male sexuality ever uncovered,
The 20cm-long, 3cm-wide stone object, which is dated to be about
28,000 years old, was buried in the famous Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm
in Germany's Swabian Jura region.
The prehistoric "tool" was reassembled from fourteen fragments of
Its life size suggests it may well have been used as a sex aid by
its Ice Age makers, scientists report.
"In addition to being a symbolic representation of male
genitalia, it was also at times used for knapping flints," explained
Professor Nicholas Conard, from the department of Early Prehistory
and Quaternary Ecology, at Tübingen University in Germany.
"There are some areas where it has some very typical scars from
that," he said.
Researchers believe the object's distinctive form and etched
rings around one end mean there can be little doubt as to its
"It's highly polished; it's clearly recognisable," said Professor
The Tübingen team working Hohle Fels already had thirteen
fractured parts of the phallus in storage, but it was only with the
discovery of a fourteenth fragment last year that the team was able
finally to put the "jigsaw" together.
The different stone sections were all recovered from a well-dated
ash layer in the cave complex associated with the activities of
modern humans (not their pre-historic "cousins", the Neanderthals).
The dig site is one of the most remarkable in central Europe.
Hohle Fels stands more than 500m above sea level in the Ach River
Valley and has produced thousands of Upper Palaeolithic items.