Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!
A Palaeolithic Work of Art Volume 55 Number 5, September/October 2002
by Hizri Amirkhanov and Sergey Lev

(Hizri Amirkhanov and Sergey Lev)

Scientists are heralding the discovery of a remarkably naturalistic 20,000-year-old bison figurine found at the Upper Palaeolithic site of Zaraysk, 100 miles southeast from Moscow.

The figurine, four inches high and carved from mammoth ivory, was found on a specially built podium at the bottom of a small storage pit. The site has been excavated by the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1995.

The figurine has a length-to-width ratio of 1.6:1, which perfectly coincides with that of an adult bison, and its beard and mane were carefully engraved. The bison's left legs had been broken off before it was put in the pit, and traces of red ocher and black pigment still remain on its surface.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America