The Hohle Fels Cave near the village of Schelklingen in the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany lies some 1,600 feet above sea level in the valley of the river Ach. Over the years it has been a rich source of various Paleolithic artifacts including the Hohle Fels bird, a 30,000 year old figurine carved from mammoth ivory, as well as other carved figurines of a horse and a creature described as part human and part lion.
The latest find to be announced is a sculpted and polished cylinder of fine-grained siltstone measuring 19.2 cm (8 inches) long, 3.6 cm (1.5 inches) wide and 2.8 cm (1 inch) thick. The object, which has been dated by multiple radiocarbon measurements as being 28,000 years old, resembles nothing less than a stone age dildo. And although not quite the oldest phallic object ever found, its discovery is nevertheless an exciting moment for students of stone age artifacts as according to Professor Nicholas Conard, of the department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology at Tübingen University; "Female representations with highly accentuated sexual attributes are very well documented at many sites, but male representations are very, very rare".
Despite only recently being announced, the recovery of the Hohle Fels phallus has actually taken a number of years, as it was broken into fourteen separate fragments at some point in the dim and distant past. It is only in the past year that Professor Conard's team finally came across the fourteenth and final fragment which enabled them to piece together the find in all its original glory.
Described by its finders as being "life size"; although truthfully it is slightly larger than life size as far as most of the male population goes, they have thus speculated that it "may well have been used as a sex aid by its Ice Age makers". Oddly enough the object also bears unmistakable signs that it was also used as a hammerstone for knapping flints. This apparently is not unusual as Paleolithic objects commonly have a dual purpose and served as both functional tools and figurative representations.
The Hohle Fels phallus is now appearing in an exhibition at the Prehistory Museum in Blaubeuren, which has variously been reported as bearing the title of 'Ice Art - Clearly Male' or 'Ice Age Art: Definitely Masculine', depending no doubt on how you translate from the original German.
Note that the BBC refers to the Hohle Fels phallus as a "prehistoric 'tool'". I would not stoop so low.
- Jonathan Amos, Ancient phallus unearthed in cave Monday, 25 July, 2005
- First Fine-grained Phallus Found in Europe sourced from AlphaGalileo.org
- Marsha Walton, Cave art from 30,000 years ago? Thursday, December 18, 2003