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Decorated bone pin

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Length: 20.000 cm

Bequeathed by Henry Christy (1864)

P&EE Sieveking Catalogue no. 151 (Christy Collection slip number 51)

Prehistory and Europe

    Decorated bone pin

    Early Aurignacian period, about 34,000 years old
    From the abri Lartet in the Gorge d'Enfer, Dordogne, France

    Deliberately made jewellery is unknown in Old Stone Age sites in Europe before the start of the Upper Palaeolithic. Some of the oldest known pieces came from the abri Lartet, a shelter formed by a rock overhang where the users of distinctive split-based spear points camped during the early Aurignacian period, which in France lasted from 35,000 to 29,000 years ago.

    The decorated pin is a rare piece. There is nothing to compare with it in the whole of western Europe. From the flattened tip the smooth shaft becomes more rounded towards the middle where the simple notched decoration starts. This extends all round the shaft onto the head which is in part still rough and may not have been finished. The tip is thin and flattened. It appears unsuitable for use as a tool. On a person, it might have been worn in the hair or, to hold the sides of a collar or jacket front together below the shoulder.

    Perforated bone pendants with notched decoration and waste from making ivory beads were also found at the site.

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

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