- Museum number
- Volgu point
Large, thin, laurel leaf-shaped point made from pale, translucent flint. From a point at the base, the symmetrical edges diverge to a maximum width of 67 mm approximately 70 mm up the length. From this point, they converge with slight convexity towards the tip formed by an acute angle less than 3mm wide. Both faces are entirely modified by the removal of long, thinl flakes from the edges producing neat, shallow, parallel removal scars that meet in the middle without forming a prominent ridge. The edges are fresh, sharp and show no signs of use or depositional damage. The point is so thin it is translucent despite some slight iron staining acquired during deposition. The fine grained, homogeneous flint from which the point is made does not occur near to the site but has been traced to deposits in the southern part of the Paris Basin, some 150 kms downstream on the Loire from the site of Volgu (Aubry et al 2003) where nodules over 40 cms long must have been available to produce the points found at Volgu that are between 23 and 35 cms long. These nodules were probably reduced in size at or near the source before the production of rough pre-forms that could be transported for completion elsewhere. No flint working waste (debitage) was found at the Volgu findspot suggesting that the the cache of about fifteen large points was not completed in the vicinity where there were no indications of a living site.
Points exceeding 15 cm in length and of such exceptional workmanship are known typologically as Volgu points (feuilles de Volgu). Their size, delicacy and lack of use damage precludes their use as weapon armatures. It takes great skill and at least five hours to make such large, thin well-finished points. The detachment of every flake has to be precisely calculated and the edges prepared by abrasion and notching to control each removal and prevent breakage. This overinvestment of time in a non-functional tour de force suggests both specialization in toolmaking and the production of superb objects to communicate or symbolize ideas, perhaps connecting the special relationship between the skills of the toolmaker and the success of the hunter.
- Production date
Length: 282 millimetres
Thickness: 6 millimetres
Width: 67 millimetres
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013 24 Jun-16 Sep, Spain, Santander, Fundación Botín, Ice Age Art
2013 7 Feb-26 May, London, BM Ice Age Art
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The Volgu points from Volgu were dug up by workmen. Chabas 1874 refers to 14 pieces of which three were broken. In 1927, a local historian, J B Jost, suggested there were 17, but now only 15 are known. Thirteen of these are in the Musee Vivant-Denon in Chalon-sur-Saone, France, having been acquired by La Societe d'histoire et d'archeologie de Chalon-sur-Saone to which Chabas reported. Another is in the Museum d'archeologie nationale at Saint Germain-en-Laye, Paris. It is not clear how or when William Allen Sturge acquired his example. He was a well-known connoisseur of stone implements and a regular buyer from dealers. He did not exhibit the Volgu point subsequently bequethed to the British Museum at the exhibition of his collection for the Congres International d'Anthropologie et d'Archaeologie in Monaco in 1906, but notes in the preface of his catalogue for that show that it was impossible for him to transport all of his material to Monaco. It is perhaps notable that the British Museum and MAN pieces are made from the same flint as the others but show a few more tiny inclusions.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number