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Technology Lingjing's bird, the oldest Chinese work of art

21:45  10 june  2020
21:45  10 june  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

Tiny songbird is East Asia's 'oldest' carved artwork

  Tiny songbird is East Asia's 'oldest' carved artwork A miniature bird sculpted out of burnt bone in China around 13,500 years ago is the oldest known figurine from East Asia, according to researchers who discovered it in a refuse heap near an archaeological site. While three-dimensional portable art has been documented in Europe dating back some 40,000 years, the researchers said the Lingjing bird was the oldest such example found in East Asia. Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in China are known to have manufactured bone tools such as spear points and needles, as well as personal ornaments made of shells, ostrich eggs and animal teeth, D'Errico said.

Photo et reconstitution 3D par microtomographie de la sculpture d’oiseau miniature. © Credit: Francesco d´Errico and Luc Doyon Photo and 3D reconstruction by microtomography of the miniature bird sculpture.

It is a small bird statue which does not look like a mine but which is nevertheless of great archaeological richness, unearthed in eastern China, it is more than 13,000 years old. It is the oldest found in this region. This discovery is the subject of a publication in the scientific journal Plos One, research signed by a Franco-Chinese team.

It is a small piece of burnt bone a few centimeters unearthed in Lingjing in south-east China: a bird statuette, the oldest work of art found there. “The bird has a perfectly recognizable shape and style. It's amazing to think that its creation dates back 13,500 years. It is not yet known if it is from here or if it was imported to China. There are much older figures in Europe and Siberia. But the Lingjing bird has a higher aesthetic value. The sculpture is very delicate and can be kept standing, ”says Li Zhanyang, archaeologist and professor at Shandong University.

Perched on a small pedestal, this bird fills a void in the history of art between China and the West. “This figurine fills a huge hole, several million km². We have some 3D representations for Siberia but for Southeast Asia, it is the oldest sculpted figuration ”, confirms Francesco D'Errico, is CNRS research director at the University of Bordeaux.

The statuette is now in Shandong University. It will then be exhibited in a museum.

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