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.

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Decorated bone pin

  • Reverse



More information


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


Length: 20.000 cm

Museum number

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

not found on MERLIN

Bequeathed by Henry Christy (1864)


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