Life and training of embroiderers, £8.99
Diameter: 6.800 cm
Bequeathed by W.A. Sturge
P&EE Sturge Collection 723 (Sieveking Catalogue no. 440)
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
Bone disc decorated with horses
Middle Magdalenian, about 13,000 years
From the rockshelter of La Tuilière, Dordogne, France
Reindeer bone pendant
This disc, only 1.5 mm thick, was cut from the shoulder blade of a reindeer. It is incomplete due to ancient damage. Despite the breakage, it is still a precious example of a rare type of disc decorated with animal drawings. Less than ten such pieces are known, and this is the only one showing horses. Others have reindeer, chamois, mammoth, ibex and a human. The horses are finely engraved on both sides of the disc. They are not complete and appear too big for the space. This is the artist's trick to make them look awesome. On one side a smaller horse has been drawn within the head and neck of a larger one.
The disc has two holes. One of these is at the top and suggests that the disc was worn as a pendant before the edge broke, and a second hole was made at the centre.
Decorated discs are found on sites in south-western France, the Pyrenees, central Europe and Russia. Most are decorated with line motifs.
A. Sieveking, A catalogue of Palaeolithic ar (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)