Near Eastern - North African Acheulian Figurine Symbolizing Traditon
From this traditionwhich corresponds to the Near Eastern and North African Later Acheulian Ovate-Cordiform tool traditionw e now have at least two verified anthropomorphic figurines. The Tan Tan (Morocco) figurine, gender indeterminate (300-500,000 BP) and the Berekhat Ram (Israel) female figurine (233,000-470,000 BP) are the most securely dated and accepted examples of Later Acheulian figurative art. This tradition appears to have replaced the Middle Acheulian tradition that emphasized the symbolic pairing of globular lanceolates and picks. (For a more detailed summary see Notes on Later Acheulian Symbol Systems and Spiritual Principles.) The Tan Tan figurine was painted with red ochre unlike the tools nearby. This supports the inference that the figurine has a symbolic and religious function. Similarly, the Berekhat Ram figurine is made of a bright red tuffic material and other features confirm its spiritual function. bottom appears abraded to create a small, flat surface, perhaps to allow the object to stand (DErrico and Nowell 2000). That the figurines were found in association with handaxes suggests that perhaps the Near Eastern/North African Symbol Tradition involved a symbolic pairing of an anthropomorphic figurine, gendered female, and a handaxe, now gendered male; conversely the association lends support to the idea that some handaxes played a symbolic religious role in the Later Acheulian. Whether there are zoomorphic or other sculptural elements in this system remains to be examined.