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Archaeological dig unearths sculptures dating back to the Stone Age.

Byline: ANI

London, Dec 2 (ANI): Archaeologists have uncovered rare sculptures from the late Stone Age at Zaraysk, 150 km south-east of Moscow in Russia.

According to a report by BBC News, the findings have yielded figurines and carvings on mammoth tusks, including a cone-shaped object whose function "remains a puzzle" to the archaeologists.

Such artistic artefacts have been found in the nearby regions of Kostenki and Avdeevo, but this is the first such discovery at Zaraysk.

The new artefacts, discovered by Hizri Amirkhanov and Sergey Lev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, include a mammoth rib inscribed with what appear to be three mammoths, a small bone engraved with a cross-hatch pattern, and two human figurines presumed to be female.

Such "Venus" statuettes have been found in locations ranging from the mountains of Spain as Far East as Siberia, but their cultural significance remains a point of debate among anthropologists.

At Zaraysk, the two figurines were found carefully buried in storage pits.

Underneath each was a round deposit of fine sand toward the south. Toward the north, there was a deposit of red ochre - an iron-based pigment.

Each of the figurines had been covered with the shoulder-blade of a mammoth.

One is presumed to be finished and stands at a height of nearly 17 cm (6.7 in); while the other is clearly unfinished and about half as big.

However, both resemble examples of such statuettes found at the Avdeevo site to the south-west, suggesting cultural links between the two.

"This collection of artefacts is spectacular in a number of ways, not only for the range of representations of both humanistic and animal but also for the range of materials that is used," said Jeffrey Brantingham, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"These finds are really incredibly rare, and they offer a unique picture into human Upper Palaeolithic life," he added.

Also among the finds was an object carved from mammoth ivory, shaped like a cone with its top removed. The cone is densely ornamented and has a hole running through its centre. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Dec 3, 2008
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