Researchers announced in 2005 that a sculpted and
polished phallus which had been found in a German cave was amongst
the earliest representations of male sexuality ever uncovered.
The twenty centimetre-long, three centimetre-wide
stone object, which was dated to around 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 siltstone. Its life size suggested that it may well
have been used as a sex aid by its makers, people of the Gravettian
Leading the research was Professor Nicholas Conard,
from the department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology at
Tübingen University in Germany.
'In addition to being a symbolic representation of
male genitalia,' he explained, 'it was also at times used for
knapping flints. There are some areas where it has some very typical
scars from that.'
The researchers believed that the object's distinctive
form and etched rings around one end meant that there could be
little doubt as to its symbolic nature. It was highly polished -
and clearly recognisable!. 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 in
2004 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 that is associated
with the activities of modern humans (who were already well along
the road to completely replacing their cousins, the Neanderthals).
The dig site turned into 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 items from the
Upper Palaeolithic (Late Old Stone Age). Some have been truly exquisite
in their sophistication and detail, such as a thirty thousand year-old
avian figurine crafted from mammoth ivory.
The Hohle Fels cave has produced many great finds, including
this sculpted piece of mammoth ivory which may be the earliest
representation of a bird in the archaeological record, dating to
around 28,000 BC