- Museum number
Engraved bone fragment, thin and tabular in cross-section with marks on one suurface misidentified as a figurative engraving. This consists of a group of lightly engraved lines that was interpreted as the head, neck and body of a tiny animal, possibly a cervid, facing left. The engraving is minimal and the perceived animal is little more than a fortuitous grouping of natural marks.
Length: 2.70 centimetres
Thickness: 0.50 centimetres
Width: 2 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- In his report on the excavations at Mother Grundy's Parlour, Armstrong records that some 500 pieces of bones were cleaned and examined for the possible presence of figurative or decorative engravings. Only three were identified of which this was the most probable. Its identification was contested at the end of Armstrong's first lecture about the excavations at a special meeting of the Royal Anthropological Institute on 21 April, 1925 at which the finds were shown. A letter from William Boyd Dawkins was read suggesting that all of the three pieces showed natural damage by roots not engravings. The meeting was attended by eminent specialists from Britian and Europe. In letters dated 28 April and 22 May preserved in the archives at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, to Dr J Wilfred Jackson, palaeontologist and Assistant Keeper at Manchester Museum, Armstong wrote that he was not worried by Dawkins opinion because l'abbe Breuil gave 'his private view' that there was no doubt, Professor Kozlowski and Dorothy Garrod agreed as did Professor William Sollas from Oxford (see also Armstrong 1927). He added that Dawkins' view had caused much amusement. However, another note dated 6 May by J Wilfred Jackson in the same archive indicates that he had doubts about the pieces and admonishes Armstong for picking out the lines making up the perceived figure with chinese white which he considered to be misleading. These comments were subsequently published in the note to Nature (1925, vol.116 (2906) p.48), and Armstrong justified his action because it made the lines and the animal more easily visible.
Viewed through a microscope, the fine lines do not appear to be deliberately engraved or accidental cut-marks. The presumed figurative engraving is a fortuitous mix of natural striations and rootmarks.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1937,0712.11