At first the scientists believed the geometrical figure carved onto the antler could have been either the mentioned woman, or a nude man raising his arms. Measurements to determine the ratio of the stick figure limbs, in addition to comparisons with other early human representations, lead the researchers to support the woman interpretation.
Zigzags are very popular motifs on artifacts from many cultures throughout the world, with many possible meanings, but Płonka said, "I think our zigzag lines are connected with water and life symbolism."
The lines also appear to have been carved by different individuals, suggesting that some group effort was involved in the creation of the object.
A geological study of the Polish site found that thawing of ice blocks occurred, increasing the number of water bodies in the region.
"Consequently, the role of aquatic environment as the source of food (fish, mammals) and perhaps transport thoroughfare gained importance," the scientists concluded.
Giant elks were the most imposing animals of the European Plain, perhaps symbolizing "the power of life," according to Płonka. The structure of the carved antler indicates its growth stage was spring or summer. The scientists believe the elk was selected and killed on purpose to make the object, which may have served a role in rituals for many years.
"Some strokes of zigzag lines, which are near the edge of the ornamented surfaces are worn," Płonka explained.
Oh, I just bet they're worn. And I'm guessing the scientists wore thick rubber gloves while picking this baby up. You never know where it's been.