2011 | 14 | 5-9
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ANTHROPOMORPHIC ANTLER SCULPTURES IN ABORA I NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENT, LAKE LUBANS WETLAND (Antropomorfas raga skulpturas Aboras I vela neolita apmetne Lubana mitraja)

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The Lake Lubans Wetland in Latvia shows evidence of more than 25 Neolithic settlements. Anthropomorphic antler sculptures from this wetland, as in other parts of the Eastern Baltic and the neighbouring territories, are considered a rare category of finds due to the special conditions of preservation. Two such objects were excavated in 1970 and 1971 at the Late Neolithic site of Abora 1. One is a male figure and the other is asexual. Their age has been calculated based on radiocarbon samples, which were collected during excavations. The anthropomorphic antler figurines correspond to several cultural occupations. The first is characterized by pottery with a smooth surface and the second by all-over-cord impressed and pseudo-textile impressions that are characteristic for Eastern Latvia. The sculptures were discovered in the central, most densely populated part of Abora. The male sculpture (Latvian National History Museum, inv. No. 76: 2262) was found in the north-eastern part of the excavation area, only 1 m north of the disturbed child burial, No. 34. The asexual sculpture (Latvian National History Museum, inv. No. 76: 3833) was uncovered in the central part of the site, in the northern corner of the excavation area F, and only 17 m south of the male sculpture. It came from an oversaturated cultural layer corresponding to the moment of intensive occupation. The anthropomorphic sculptures are made from the widest portion of an elk antler. They show a significant level of technical skill, preparation and proficiency in their manufacture. Both sculptures are three-dimensional, realistically formed figures. The interpretation of the meaning and functions of these Abora figurines may be first approached by examining their integrity as whole or broken objects.
  • Ilze Loze, Institute of Latvian History, University of Latvia, Akademijas laukums 1, Riga LV-1050, Latvia
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