A study published on Wednesday revealed that a bird statue from the Stone Age discovered in China could be a “missing link” in our understanding of prehistoric art.
The sculpture dates back approximately 13500 years and is now the oldest known example of 3D art in East Asia, and is ahead of other discoveries in the region by about 8,500 years.
The statue was found at an archaeological site in Lingjing, Henan Province, central China, and described as “in exceptional condition of preservation.” It was hand carved from the bones of burning animals using stone tools.
Researchers say that the statue depicts a bird on a base, referring to the intentional marks where the creature’s eyes and bill would be. It is believed that the tail of a large bird was made to prevent the statue from tilting forward when placed on a roof.
The Flying Statue is the oldest statue found in East Asia. credit: Francesco Derrico / Luc Duyon
“This discovery identifies the original artistic tradition and pushes more than 8,500 years to represent birds in Chinese art,” the authors said in a press release. “The statue differs technologically and stylistically from other specimens found in Western Europe and Siberia, and the missing link may have been the Chinese statues dating back to the Stone Age.”
In addition to using radiated carbon dating to verify the life of the object, scientists used CT scans to reveal the sculpting techniques used by the Stone Age sculptor. They found evidence that scraping, measuring, scraping and moving stone tools were used to produce the statue.
The excavation was led by researchers from Shandong University in eastern China, as well as experts from colleges in France, Israel and Norway. Li Changyang, who led the study, has excavated the site since 2005. Other discoveries there include pottery fragments, remains of burning animals and an ostrich egg pendant.