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Fri Oct 26, 2012, 12:46 PM

Most Ancient Pottery Prehistoric Figurine of the Iberian Peninsula Found in Begues

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026084641.htm

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The figurine is dated 6500 years ago and named “l‘Encantat de Begues”. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universidad de Barcelona)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 26, 2012) — In the course of the excavation process in Can Sadurní cave (Begues), members of the Col-lectiu per la Investigación de la Prehistòria i l'Arqueologia del Garraf-Ordal (CIPAG), together with the University of Barcelona Seminar of Studies and Prehistoric Research (SERP), found the torso, with one complete arm and the initial part of the other, of a human figurine made of pottery. Its chronostratigraphic unit makes it, until now, the most ancient human figurine of the Prehistory in Catalonia; it is dated 6500 years ago.

The figurine, which is also the most ancient one found in the Iberian Peninsula, is an important indicator of the relevance that Can Sadurní might have had as a meeting point for the inhabitants of the closest areas during the Neolithic Age. This is not the first discovery that has been made in the cave, where the CIPAG researchers have been working for 34 years, and where the most ancient evidence of production and consumption of beer were previously identified. These discoveries point that Can Sadurní might have hosted some feasts, in which rare products might have been consumed. Moreover, other rituals with a mark symbolic nature might have been hosted there, any kind of crucial celebration to bring together groups scattered around the area and to ensure their economical, ideological and sexual reproduction.

The figurine matches with the beginnings of the Middle Neolithic, exactly the discovery has been made in the layer 11 (post cardial Middle Neolithic 1a), on its contact with the layer 11b (post cardial Early Neolithic 0). The figurine, only found until now its torso, its neck and its right arm, represents a human figure, probably a male one. The preserved fragment is 8 cm height, 1.90 cm thick and its width depends on the point from which we measure: 2.5 cm from its waist, 4 cm from its chest (if we only take into account the preserved arm), and about 5.5 cm on the same point, but we imagine both arms stretched out. The development of the rest of the body make think about a 16-18 cm height figurine.

Although it is impossible to notice them clearly to the naked eye, when the figurine is observed with grazing light two different lines can be noticed; they could be carvings that seem to reproduce some elements of clothing and ornaments. In fact, this kind of images used to be dressed up as humans and they do not show clearly sexual attributes, so normally the only element that allows to know the sex of the figure are breasts. In the case of Begues discovery, the absence of female breasts makes think that probably it is a male figurine. This male attribution means a novelty in the Iberian Peninsula because, up to now, more than the 80 % of similar Mediterranean and European representations are female ones.

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