International Writers Magazine: Travel
Caves in Lone Valley
trip to the Vogelherd Caves in Lone Valley is not advertised on
any travel brochure. There are no glaring signboards pointing that
way; no tempting souvenir shops beckoning.
Vogelherd Ivory Horse 32000 BC
At the Museum Schloss
Hohentubingen in Tubingen, I was attracted to several miniature ivory
animals on exhibition. A horse, a bison, an elephant, a lion, each about
four to six cms long, and intricately carved. According to museum sources,
these were the oldest works of figuratve art in the world and were excavated
not far from here.
And so from Tubingen, we motored south to the Lone Valley. This region
in Baden Wurtemberg is important to archaeologists since 1860, especially
those involved in Paleolithic Research.
In the district of Heidenheim, not very far from Ulm, we travelled through
country roads, until we saw a small board at the foot of a hillock.
It was a steep climb of about twenty meters, and covered over with dense
jungle foliage. It had rained the night before, and the soil was dark
and slippery. At the top of the hill was a stone table and bench, and
even a well, probably left behind by excavators.
Descending for some distance on the other side, were the three openings
of the Vogelherd caves. They were roughly hewn into the hill, and were
dark and cold inside, but dry. We could visualize the occupants of those
caves probably the first inhabitants who could be recognized
physically as human beings the Neanderthals who lived, hunted
and survived 35000 years ago, when the place was overrun by wild horses,
bison, and gigantic mammoths. How did those primitive people learn the
fine art of sculpting and carving? What instruments did they use?
Though research in the Lone Valley has been going on since the latter
part of the 19th century, it was only in 1931, that the archaeologist
Gustav Riek from the University of Tubingen began excavating these caves.
They were completely filled with deposits, probably limestone, as one
can still see a lot of limestone debris around the caves.
The artifacts in the museum were of extremely good craftsmanship. The
animals were recognizable, even though chipped in some places. They
were small and delicate. Like individual signatures, the artists had
etched lines, crosses or dots on their handiwork. Some of them had a
hole through one end, as they were propbably used as pendants. The ivory
did not come from elephants, but from large hairy mammoths with long
tusks. Ice age drawings too were found in these caves.
Three other caves have been located in south Germany the Holenstein
caves, the Geissen Klosterle and the Hohe Fels, from which similar artifacts
have been recovered, even as late as 2002. This is an archaeologists
gold mine, and Vogelherd Caves is a good place to start. However, a
preliminary visit to the museum to see the exhibits, would make this
trip more meaningful. The Hohentubingen Castle Museum is worth visiting
for its priceless exhibits.
Bell Feb 13th 2008
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.