Flint burins

Late Magdalenian, about 12,500 years old
From the rockshelter of La Madeleine, Dordogne, France

Tools for drawing and making bone and antler equipment

Burin is the name given to a common Stone Age tool. They have a narrow working edge made by a special technique. Using a stone or antler hammer, one or more flakes, known as burin spalls, are knocked off the edges at the end of a flint blade. The sides of the blade then slope to a small straight edge across the top as visible in the side view.

Burins like the one shown on the left are common throughout the Upper Palaeolithic, about 35,000 - 10,000 years ago. These pieces are late Magdalenian. They include a piece which is a burin at one end and a scraper at the other (centre), and a special type (right) called the parrot's beak form, found only at this time.

Such tools could be held like a pencil. They were used for drawing but also for cutting out pieces of bone and antler, which were then made into everyday items such as needles, fish hooks, harpoon and spear tips and jewellery.

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Flint burins

  • How to hold a flint burin

    How to hold a flint burin


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Length: 7.400 cm
Length: 7.400 cm
Length: 7.400 cm

Museum number

P&EE Christy Collection

not found on MERLIN

Excavated and bequeathed by Henry Christy


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