Late Magdalenian, about 12,500 years old
From the cave of Courbet, Penne-Tarn, France

Forked and barbed points

The cave of Courbet is situated by the River Aveyron, and the people who camped there included fish in their diet. As well as fish bones and harpoons, the deposits in the cave also contained little forked and barbed points, of types known from other sites that date to this late phase of the Old Stone Age. Over the years, it has been thought that these points were arrow tips for shooting birds, or spikes for catching small animals in traps. However, it makes most sense that they were hooks used for line fishing.

There are simple V-shaped hooks with two prongs made of bone, as well as small barbed points made of antler. These were tied straight on to the line.

The pronged and barbed antler pieces were probably tied to bone or antler shafts to form barbed hooks.

The line would probably have been made from animal hair that was twisted or plied into long lengths of suitable thickness and strength.

Together with spears and harpoons this equipment reflects the diverse and sophisticated weaponry of late Stone Age hunters.

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  • Artist's impression of use

    Artist's impression of use


More information



Length: 4.900 cm
Length: 4.900 cm
Length: 4.900 cm
Length: 4.900 cm

Museum number

P&EE 1864.12-26.575-577



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