Museum of the Origins of Man


The production of sculpture of human heads joined with animal heads is subdivided into five phases: - from 2,500,000 to 750,000 years ago (Oldowan); - from 750,000 to 400,000 years ago (Acheulean and early Clactonian); - from 400,000 to 200,000 years ago (Acheulean and middle Clactonian); - from 200,000 to 40,000 years ago (Acheulean and late Clactonian, and Mousterian); - from 40,000 to 12,000 years ago (Upper Paleolithic). The typology of the sculptures is constituted by representations of man-animal hybrids (Fig. 6.1). These are not bicephalic, that is a human head joined to an animal head, nor do they represent two half faces of man and animal combined in one single head; they are rather a mixture of parts of a human face and parts of the muzzle of an animal in one single head (Fig. 6.3). These artistic-religious hybrids continue in sculpture during the post-Paleolithic ages and in ethnography (Fig. 6A10 ).

Fig. 6.1) Zooanthropomorphic stone sculpture (drawing). Found by MARY LEAKEY. It represents the head of an artistic man-animal hybrid, but it could be a hominid head realized in a style (an artistic language) that we are not yet able to define due to scarcity of finds. It is the most ancient sculpture known.
Dimensions: they are on the drawing; unknown thickness.
Origin: Olduvai Gorge (East Africa).
Material culture: Oldowan.
Absolute dating: 1,700,000 years.
This find was studied by Mary Leakey, Raymond Dart and K.P. Oakley.

Fig. 6.2) Zooanthropomorphic stone sculpture found by Isaïe Dharwent in 1902 or previously. It is an old photograph and it is not possible to see the worked parts on the flint nodule. It is perhaps damaged by alluvial rolling. It was interpreted by Dharwent as representing a monkey head. Our interpretation is different: the profile of the head has a human jaw and forehead, while the mouth and upper part of the face are of an animal, therefore is an artistic man-animal hybrid.
Dimensions: perhaps 2.3 inches in height.
Origin: probably central northern France.
Material culture: probably Clactonian or Middle Acheulean.
In this photograph the traces of work are not shown. We cannot see the back. Moreover, the mouth is atypical, perhaps influenced by the shape of the flint nodule; it is not possible to establish with certainty its authenticity.

Fig. 6.3) Zooanthropomorphic stone sculpture found by WALTER MATTHES before 1969. It represents, according to Matthes, "grotesque head", and that is correct. But we are more precise: according to our typology it is an artistic hybrid of a ferocious man-animal. The jaw is human. The proportioning of the head is human; the snout is animal; the mouth is opened wide.
The sculpture is worked in every part. The mouth has been obtained from a recess in the flint nodule. The clear patches are remnants of the surface crust that covered the flint nodule.
Material culture: Clactonian or Final Acheulean.

clikka per ingrandire l'immagine

Fig. 6.4) Zooanthropomorphic stone sculpture representing an artistic man-animal hybrid, looking upward, with a long neck and pointed neck.
Height: 5.5 inches. Width: 0.7 inches.
Origin: Varazze, Savona, Italy.
Material culture: Clactonian or Final Acheulean.
Collection of the Museum of the Origins of Man.

Fig. 6.6) Zooanthropomorphic sculpture in bone (drawing). It represents an artistic man-animal hybrid. The head and body are similar enough to a man’s (at least for the vertical body) while the ears are of an animal. It is the only finding from the Paleolithic, known by us, representing ears in either stone or bone sculptures. The representation of the ears is known only in small zoomorphic sculptures in baked clay from the Upper Paleolithic found at Dolni Vestonice in Moravia and at Vogelherd cave in Germany.
Dimensions: measurements unknown, but of small size.
Origin: France.
Material culture: Upper Paleolithic.




Page translated from Italian into English by Paris Alexander Walker.

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