The Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic (Late Old Stone Age) flourished between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago (or so we think, theories of carbon dating are subject to revision).
The Aurignacians are generally awarded the title of being our earliest genuinely human ancestors in Europe on the basis of artistic achievement. It was they who produced the Hohle-Fels Venus, the Chauvet cave paintings, and the Stadel cave LÃ¶wenmensch (“Lion Man”), all powerfully moving, but cryptic and fundamentally incomprehensible to us, artistic expressions.
The last object, the LÃ¶wenmensch, was discovered in a cave in the Swabian Alps in 1939. WWII resulted in its being neglected for 30 years, but eventually scholar attention arrived. The fragments were assembled, and interpreted. First, as a deity or a shaman representing a lion god, later as (Gawd help us!) a “cave lioness” and an icon of Stone Age Feminism.
Near the end of the last century, a few more pieces were discovered, so scientists are now in the process of removing earlier “restored” bits and having a go at reassembling the original artifact absent recent interpolations. The results will be very interesting.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.