The most lifelike piece found at Vela Spila (the term is Croatian for big cave) is the tiny dark brown torso and foreleg of an animal, possibly a horse or deer, complete with a smooth, anatomically correct hole in its rear. But when the piece was uncovered in 2001, the team stuffed it into a bag without identification.
“It was overlooked because no one expected to find ceramics in the Paleolithic,” Dr. Farbstein said.
Five years later, someone looked in the bag and realized what the figure was. When scientists went back to the cave that year to excavate further, they found the other 35 ceramic art pieces.
Story: Alanna Mitchell, NYT | Photo: Rebecca Farbstein, NYT