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Bone pendant decorated with an engraved drawing of a wolverine


Length: 6.000 cm
Thickness: 1.500 mm

Christy Collection

P&EE Sieveking Catalogue no. 102

    Bone pendant decorated with an engraved drawing of a wolverine

    Late Magdalenian, around 12,500 years old
    Probably from the cave of Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France

    This finely shaped piece of bone is only 1.5 mm thick. It has a hole at one end so that it could be hung on a cord and worn as a pendant or part of a necklace. Both sides are smooth. On one side there is a delicate but deeply cut engraving of a wolverine. It is easy to recognize this animal from its bear-like face, pointed nose, small ears, heavy body and hairy paws. The artist has also carefully shaded its dark fur coat to show the ligher stripe along its side and on its face. The diagonal line across the animal's shoulder may be a spear. The pendant is broken so it is possible that there was once another figure in front of the wolverine.

    Wolverines are now known only from the cold regions of northern Scandinavia, Siberia and northern Canada but during the last Ice Age they were more widespread in Europe. By the Magdalenian period, carnivores are rarely represented by artists. This drawing may be an expression of fear and/or admiration for the wolverine, a fierce, strong animal which was a dangerous competitor for human foods such as reindeer, hares, fish, birds, eggs and berries. It also has a useful thick waterproof fur.

    A. Sieveking, A catalogue of Palaeolithic ar (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)


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