Quaternary Period - Ice Age hunters and early artists

Breathing heavily, the Ice Age hunters made their way home. Still, it had all been worthwhile − they were returning with quite a quarry. They carried pieces of several mammoths with them. Just imagine the delight of the tribal members they had left behind. They gave their hunters a rapturous welcome. This scene could have taken place in the Swabian Alb area about 30,000 years ago, that is in the middle of the last Ice Age.

For more than 2 million years, that is since the beginning of the Quaternary Period, ice ages had alternated with warm periods at almost regular intervals. A new creature had appeared on the Alb who we would hear a lot more about: man. A number of things left behind by man during the last Ice Age have been found in recent times and continue to be found today on the Alb. The caves in the Alb region represent a unique archive of history of civilization. World-famous discoveries were made in the caves of the Ach and Lone valleys − the oldest artworks created by man. The early Stone Age people created figures and instruments from mammoth ivory and animal bones. In fact, they even played tunes on the carved flutes!

The landscape and the plants and animals were completely different from those of the present: a seemingly endless tundra landscape extended almost as far as the horizon. Hard to imagine that a lot of water used to flow through the now „dry valleys“, because the Alb streams could not drain into the karstic bedrock due to the permanently frozen ground. Only masters of survival such as lichens and grasses and dwarfish bushes and trees survived the ice-cold winter. In a few exceptional locations on the Alb, some of these types of plants were able to survive thousands of years until today. Some animals that have become extinct long ago while others are still around today used to live on the Alb, such as mammoths, woolly rhinos, bisons, wild horses and reindeers, and all of them were hunted intensively by man. At Petersfels near Engen, animal bones were found which suggested that thousands of reindeers had been hunted and slaughtered in a narrow section of the valley! And maybe it was the Neanderthal man that drove the Alb marmot to extinction all those
years ago. Stone Age man may have come across one of the powerful cave bears as Weinland explains so well in his novel „Rulaman“. In the Bärenhöhle near Erpfingen, bones of hundreds of giant cave bears were discovered.

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