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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Stone figurine. The natural shape of a calcite cobble has been used to represent the outline of two figures in coitus. Their heads, arms and legs appear as raised areas around which the surface has been picked away. The figures have no faces. The arms of one hug the shoulders of the other and its knees are bent up underneath those of the slightly smaller figure. The image is also phallic.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 10000BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 102 millimetres
    • Width: 63 millimetres
    • Depth: 39 millimetres
    • Weight: 343 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    This figurine was found by a Bedouin and sold to the French Fathers at Bethlehem . It was then acquired by the French consul and prehistorian Rene Neuville who attributed it to the cave of Ain Sakhri where he excavated and found Natufian material. Although the source area of the figurine is not in doubt, its association with Ain Sakhri is unproven. This image of a couple making love is also phallic in all aspects. Although unique in showing a couple, simple phallic carvings are known from other Natufian sites. These have been associated with fertility rites but the arguments have tended to be simplistic. This object was sent for moulding in the Cast Shop between 19 and 28 March 1963 and several copies therefore exist (WAA, 'Transfers' book).


  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010 7 bibliographic details
    • Boyd & Cook 1993 pp.399-405 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2015-2016 May-May, HOTW, tbc. PROMISED
    2014-2015 Dec-Mar, HOTW, tbc. PROMISED
    2014 Apr-Aug, HOTW,Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2005 14 Jul-2006 27 Apr, Israel, Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, In the Beginning: Beyond the Myth of Creation

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Purchased at Sotheby's after Neuville's death.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: BCB79146

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