Split-based spear points

Early Aurignacian, about 35,000 years ago
From the abri Lartet in the Gorge d'Enfer, Dordogne, France

Points made to tip spears

These points are made of antler and are split at the base by the removal of a wedge-shaped fragment. The thinned end of a wooden spear shaft could be pushed into the slot and the join fixed with string made from animal hair, gut or muscle fibres. Although they vary in size, split-based points generally widen above the base then narrow to the tip, forming a lozenge shape with a rather flat cross-section. Notched decoration on the edges is rare.

Split-based points are characteristic of the earliest phase of the late Old Stone Age or Upper Palaeolithic known as the Aurignacian. Appearing about 40,000 years ago, they are the first distinctive spear tips to be made from bone antler and ivory and show the use of composite weapons made of more than one piece. In use for about ten thousand years, they were replaced later in the Aurignacian by rod-like spear tips with round and oval cross-sections, thinned or bevelled to fit the shaft.

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Dimensions

Length: 12.000 cm
Length: 12.000 cm
Length: 12.000 cm

Museum number

P&EE Christy Collection. Slip numbers 339, 340, 341

not found on MERLIN

Excavated and bequeathed by Henry Christy

Location

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