Refer to this website http://palaeoart.com for much more information on this object. Scroll down on that website to access numerous journal articles and published specimens similar to this rare object.
Paleolithic art is frankly, priceless. Very little of it is in private hands with the small numbers of authentic specimens mostly residing in museum collections. Paleolithic or Paleo (Palaeo) Art means human-made art dating back to BEFORE 10,000 years ago. The majority of prehistoric art dates back to the days of Cave Art and Cro-Magnons, during the Upper Paleolithic Period. NEANDERTHAL ART that is, art from the much earlier Mousterian Period, is immeasurably more rare and it is argued that Neanderthals produced little if any art but recent discoveries are challenging that.
This incredible MUSEUM-CLASS object was collected on a MOUSTERIAN NEANDERTHAL site and found with other flaked tools and objects that date to the Neanderthal Mousterian period. This is a knapped anthropomorphic figure of a BEAR in full side profile. Acquired years ago from an old Dutch private collection, it was originally found on the famous Neanderthal Fontmaure site in West Central France. While the majority of Mousterian stone flake artifacts at this site are jasper, this art object was knapped out of silicified sandstone. This type of stone is much harder to shape and work with but it is far more durable than jasper. One reason why it might have been chosen, seeing that this piece would have been a prestige piece, is that in sunlight, this stone sparkles making it much more unique than what would have been usually worked and used. The rarity of this specimen cannot be over-stated - Neanderthal art is basically impossible to purchase on the open market. This is the only art object we have had or seen for sale in 32 years in business!
The majority of published Paleolithic art pieces found at the Fontmaure site are of bears like this specimen. The Paleolithic era artist of this piece perfectly captured the image of a huge and old bear with its massive shoulder hump, lowered head and a complete side view with both, front and rear legs. This object does not follow any specific Mousterian tool type in its design and the bear imagery is undeniable, especially when compared to other published specimens (see http://palaeoart.com). Despite this being an art piece, it also functions as a multi-tool with the head of the bear serving as an engraver / knife, and the legs of the bear being able to function as a saw / denticulate. Judging by its meticulous flaking and workmanship, far exceeding what would have been needed on a utilitarian level, no doubt this Neanderthal flake tool was a PRESTIGE PIECE. The EXCLUSIVE prehistoric site this specimen was collected from is only approximately 1 acre in size and is now closed and protected by the government. This rare artifact was legally collected with the landowner's permission decades ago before the area was sealed. Fontmaure is one of Europe's most famous Neanderthal sites and the fact that this small unique prehistoric site is off-limits to any collecting, makes this wonderful stone tool artifact exceedingly rare and desirable!
Unlike inferior surface-collected specimens that occasionally are offered on the market, this artifact was dug from the actual subterranean level that was once a Neanderthal occupation layer. What this means is that it was not weathered and damaged by exposure to the elements or plow. This entire specimen is in perfect, AS MADE condition with a rich natural soil sheen from long-term sediment burial. Original minerals and patina deep in microscopic crevices and hinge fractures provide evidence of its prehistoric authenticity, traits not found in modern or altered copies. NO RESTORATION, REPAIR OR MODERN DAMAGE. Our fortunate purchase of a very old private Dutch collection allows us to offer this SCARCE Neanderthal artifact.
Out of the many archaeological sites in France containing Paleolithic objects, Fontmaure is one of the "Crown Jewels" of the period of the Neanderthals. This site is very small, spanning only approximately one acre. It gets its name from the neighboring farm where it is located. Artifacts from Fontmaure have been dated to at least 40,000 years old and are classified as from the Chatelperronian and Mousterian era, having been fashioned by the Neanderthal people. One of the unique published finds of Fontmaure is the very beautiful and unique jasper which is only found here and is primarily red and yellow. Many of the objects found in Fontmaure are made of this stone with other objects made of sandstone, flint and light gray quartz. This light gray quartz originates from a place that is situated about hundred kilometers from Fontmaure. Another unusual feature is that, to date, it is one of a few known open-air settlements. Even more interesting is the fact that along with the stone tools found, human and animal figures have also been excavated. There are also stones used in some type of ritual, such as triangular stones, round discs and stone balls (bolas) that have been discovered in Fontmaure. These art objects of the Neanderthals make up some of the oldest art known from Europe! Today, we find the unusual, bright colors of the Fontmaure Neanderthal tools to be intriguingly beautiful and no doubt, the Neanderthals of prehistory coveted and prized these pieces, as well!