Figure

Aprotomos ofbison in slight bas-relief, facing left (Figs. 2.7, 2.8), but thought to be natural by PP. It is 24 cm long, 23 cm wide, and with a maximum between parallels of 20 cm. Its orientation is 255° north. This figure is apparently easy to describe because it seems clear to us that it is the head of a bison, but there are various lines which confuse and complicate this task enormously. We shall begin its description by the clearest part, that is, the head which begins at the curved brow, which then continues fairly straight into the head which broadens until it reaches the muzzle. This line, made in low bas-relief at the beginning of the head, is barely 4 mm wide and 2 mm thick, whereas in the zone of the muzzle it attains 4 mm in width and a thickness of 10 mm.

The whole front part of the head is slightly curved till it reaches the muzzle where it ends perpendicularly. A series of slight indentations inside this low bas-relief seem to indicate the nostril and nearby areas, very characteristically deep-set as occurs in adult bison. As in other figures of this group, as soon as the muzzle has curved round to begin the jaw, the depiction stops, slightly continuing upwards.

Inside the head, in a very naturalistic position, one can see the more or less triangular eye with rounded sides. The lines that make up this outline are barely 3-4 mm wide and 2-3 mm thick. In the bottom left corner we observe that this elevation is extended another 3 mm, which doubtless represents the pronounced tear-duct which is also very characteristic ofbison. One could imagine that the elliptical shape to the right of the eye is the ear, but physically there is no bovid which has the ear at the level of the eye, or even slightly below it.

Fig. 2.7. Church Hole Panel IV, head Fig. 2.8. Church Hole Panel IV, head of bovid (Bison?) of bovid (line drawing)

A detailed examination of the whole surface, however, showed us that from the brow there emerges a very faint engraved line that projects slightly forwards and then immediately makes a concave bend backwards forming a mane that looks horse-like. But in the culminating part of this curved line, we encounter another low bas-relief that develops vertically from the inside of the mane and projects upwards, with a pronounced curve at its distal extremity. It is the horn, projecting forward at the very top. Next to it, to the right, can be seen the quadrangular ear, open at the bottom and somewhat deformed at the upper left. From there, the engraved mane continues, and is lost beneath a band of calcite. Starting at the line of the mane, perpendicular and towards the interior, there is a series of five vertical lines which seem to give some volume to the upper part of the head. The groove of the engraved zones has an open U-shaped section, 2 mm wide and 2 mm deep.

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