Raiders of the Lost Past with Janina Ramirez

The Lion Man

Series 1 - Episode 2 The Lion Man



Think Nazi archaeologists are just the stuff of Indiana Jones fantasies? Step forward Robert Wetzel, a key figure in the story of the remarkable Lion Man, a half-man, half-lion figurine, made of mammoth ivory, that was discovered in pieces in a cave in southern Germany just days before the outbreak of the Second World War. The Lion Man is special a) because it’s 40,000 years old, and b) it is, as Janina Ramirez says, “the very first work of our imagination”.

Wetzel found the Lion Man at the end of a dig funded by a branch of the SS tasked with finding the very origins of German society. How the figurine came to look as we know it today is worthy of a film in itself. It’s an amazing story, and Ramirez’s telling of it also involves her being howled at by a cheerful Sami shaman.


Dr Janina Ramirez looks back at the discovery of three pre-war treasures, and the explorer-archaeologists who came across them. This time, she examines the discovery of a 40,000-year-old artwork known as The Lion Man, found in a remote cave in Germany in 1939 by Nazi party member and archaeologist, Robert Wetzel.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Dr Janina Ramirez
Director Ben Harding
Executive Producer Emma Parkins
Executive Producer Ed Stobart
Producer Ben Harding
Series Producer Luke McMahon
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Documentary Education