Perforated baton with horse and symbol engravings

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

Made of reindeer antler

The beautifully engraved horses on this baton are typical of the late Magdalenian. Despite some ancient damage to the hole, the baton is complete. Two horses run up the shaft. The front horse is female. She is clearly followed by a male with a long flowing tail and thick mane. Their heads and eyes are large and not exactly to scale with their bodies.

On the opposite side there are four oval forms, flat at one end with three points at the other. These have been explained as fish or, alternatively, bear paw prints. They might even be human hands with the thumbs and small fingers held under the middle fingers. Hands feature in the decoration of many cave walls and human arms are sometimes drawn on antler pieces. Whether decorative or symbolic, these forms are carefully composed and drawn to cover the handle.

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More information


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


Length: 32.600 cm

Museum number

P&EE Sieveking Catalogue no. 313

not found on MERLIN

Excavated and bequeathed by Henry Christy


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