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This “owl” would be a toy made by a child 5000 years ago

2022-12-02T14:19:35.077Z

About four thousand of these objects have been found in Spain and Portugal for more than a century. It's by having children draw



What a funny bird!

Since the end of the 19th century, about 4,000 have been discovered in Spain and Portugal of these endearing plates bearing designs in the shape of owls or owls.

Their age is a certainty: in 2014, researchers estimated that they were at least 4750 years old and for some, nearly 5500 years old.

On the other hand, their usefulness as well as the profile of their creators continues to be debated.

The prevailing hypothesis is that these artifacts had ritual significance and represented deities or the dead.

A team of Spanish researchers is now hooting another melody: in a study published Thursday in Scientific Reports, they claim that these objects are toys and that they were made by children!

More dolls than amulets

According to Juan J. Negro of the Biological Station of Doñana, a research institute in Seville, and his colleagues, these palm-sized stone objects are not the work of skilled craftsmen, as has been shown. think.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers evaluated around 100 plates and scored them according to the presence or absence of a number of morphological bird traits, such as eyes, tufts of feathers, beak and wings.

The authors of the article compared these plates to one hundred modern drawings of nocturnal birds of prey drawn by children between the ages of 4 and 13 and observed many similarities in the shortcomings of some.

They say this suggests that the ancient plaques of owls and owls were made by children of varying age-related abilities.

Plaques dating back around 5000 years and depicting owls and owls.

Scientific Report

Scientists have also observed the presence of two small holes at the top of many plates.

They suggest that they are more dolls than amulets, because if the holes had been used to pass a cord, they would show signs of wear.

Instead, they speculate that feathers may have been inserted to resemble the tufts on the heads of some regional raptor species, such as the long-eared owl.

The specimens have two large frontal eyes that also recall the little owl.

Simple to design

The team does not deny that these slate plaques may have had a ritual dimension.

They have also been found in graves and pits.

But "the boundary between play and ritual is diffuse in the societies" of this period, the article explains: "There is no contradiction in playing with animal-like toys and, at some point, to use them as offerings in community rituals linked, for example, to the colossal megalithic tombs so characteristic of the Copper Age.

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"The actual engraving of the plates may have been part of the game," the study suggests.

But why owls and owls?

No other animal has, in fact, been taken as a model to make these prehistoric toys.

These beasts are known not to be shy.

At a time when cats had not been introduced to the peninsula, they may have appeared as useful rodent eaters to farmers.

It may also be through anthropomorphism, the team guesses, with humans easily identifying with these birds with “large forward-set eyes in their huge heads.”

Today like yesterday, we always represent these birds from the front, while many species are generally only drawn in profile, also argue the authors.

Now, the way the slates come apart makes it easy to make slabs that look like owls.

Making silhouettes of other animals "would have required additional sculpting skills and specific tools," the article claims.

Replication experiments showed that the design of the owl and owl-shaped plates was simple and did not require advanced skills or intensive labor.

Source: leparis

All tech articles on 2022-12-02

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