The base object is an anthropomorphic red tufic pebble, 35 mm (1.4 in) long, which has had at least three grooves incised on it by a sharp-edged stone. One is a deep groove that encircles the narrower, more rounded end of the pebble, two shallower, curved grooves run down the sides. These grooves can be interpreted as marking the neck and arms of a figure. They closely resemble marks made in similar material by sharp-edged tools during exercises in experimental archaeology and they can be clearly distinguished from naturally-created lines.
Moreover, microscopic analysis by American researcher Alexander Marshack has proved the grooves around the "neck" and down the "arms" beyond all doubt to be artificial, so this pebble is unquestionably a "figurine", an art object.
It is therefore agreed that that the pebble has been modified by human action, even though it bears little resemblance to the much later "Venus figurines" of the Upper Palaeolithic.
Because it was found between two layers of ash, it has been dated by tephrochronology to at least 230,000 years before the present. If the artifact was intended to replicate a female figure, it would be the earliest example of representational art in the archaeological record. Rather than being made by modern humans, it would have been made by Homo erectus, hunter-gatherers and Acheulean tool users. There is some other evidence of an aesthetic sensibility during the period although compelling examples do not appear in the archaeological record until the emergence of modern humans around 50,000 years ago.