21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine: Travel

Vogelherd Caves in Lone Valley
Eva bell

A 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 archaeologist’s 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.
Eva Bell Feb 13th 2008

More Travel


© Hackwriters 1999-2008 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by or affiliates.