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Here I report the discovery of a female mammoth-ivory figurine in the basal Aurignacian deposit at Hohle Fels Cave in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany during excavations in 2008.This figurine was produced at least 35,000 calendar years ago, making it one of the oldest known examples of figurative art.Similar terms include: "rock carvings", "rock engravings", "rock inscriptions", "rock drawings" and "rock paintings".This type of Stone Age art is traditionally divided into two main categories: (1) Petroglyphs: meaning, rock engravings or carvings; this category also includes works of prehistoric sculpture that are part of the rocks themselves (known as parietal art), such as relief sculpture. While these petroglyphs and pictographs have been found on the walls of caves, or on exposed outdoor sections of rock, in practice, the earliest art of Europe was created in subterranean caves, while in (say) Northern Africa it is found mostly on the surface of the ground.The most important, but mysterious, type of petroglyph is the cupule - a non-functional cup-shaped hole created by percussion in the horizontal or vertical surface of a rock.By far the oldest art, cupules have been discovered on every continent except Antarctica, and continued to be created throughout all three eras of the Stone Age.
This discovery predates the well-known Venuses from the Gravettian culture by at least 5,000 years and radically changes our views of the context and meaning of the earliest Palaeolithic art.
Rock art is a rather vague term which denotes prehistoric man-made markings on natural stone.