British Museum puts world's oldest figurative art on display
A sculpture of an adult female bison worked from a large piece of mammoth tusk dates at least 21,000 years old, discovered at Zaraysk, Osetr Valley, Russia, is seen on display in an exhibition 'Ice Age Art : arrival of the modern mind' at the British Museum in London, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Published Tuesday, February 5, 2013 10:46AM EST
LONDON -- The art world loves hype. Works are touted as the biggest, the rarest, the most expensive.
Even in an age of superlatives, the British Museum has something special -- the oldest figurative art in the world.
The artworks on display in the new exhibition "Ice Age Art" are so old that many are carved from the tusks of woolly mammoths.
Made between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, they are carved from bones, tusks and antlers and depict animals such as bison and lions, as well as human figures.
The show, subtitled "arrival of the modern mind" explores the moment human brains began to embrace abstraction, symbolism and imagination.
Curator Jill Cook said Tuesday that the prehistoric creators of these works "are fully modern humans ... capable of imagination and creativity."