Life and training of embroiderers, £8.99
Length: 28.200 cm
Bequeathed by W.A. Sturge
P&EE Sturge Collection 582A
Prehistory and Europe
Solutrean, about 16,000 years old
From Volgu, Saône-et-Loire, France
Fine leaf-shaped point
This fine leaf-shaped point, about 16,000 years old, is a masterpiece of the flint knapper's craft. It was discovered along with eleven similar points by workmen cutting a canal in 1873. No other artefacts or bones were found with the points and it was suggested that they had been buried as a hoard, hidden to be collected at some future date, but then forgotten.
The possible age of the point is suggested by its shape and the shallow parallel-sided scars left by the removal of long thin flakes struck off using an antler or wooden hammer. These features are typical of stone points made for spears and lances during the Solutrean period of the Upper Palaeolithic between 18,000 and 14,000 years ago. However, there is no independent evidence to confirm the dating of this point. It could be of more recent Neolithic age, only 4,000 to 8,000 years old. In either case, this exceptionally long point, only 6 millimetres thick, is a remarkable example of controlled percussion flaking.
Such an object may not have had a practical use. It might have been a trade item or status symbol as it is specially made from flint brought a long way from another part of France.