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La Madeleine - a rock shelter in the Dordogne with exquisite art objects from the Magdalenian

Bison

Bison licking its shoulder, from La Madeleine

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




La Madeleine is a rock shelter located in the Vézère valley, in the Dordogne, France. In 1926 the skeleton of a three year old child was discovered, with exquisite shell jewellery, dating from the end of the Magdalenian period. It is a treasure house of art and knowledge about the people of the Magdalenian. Much of this art is on display at the Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Vezere Map









Map of sites in the Vézère Valley of France, including Fort de Tayac.



If you click on the map you will see a larger map with the ability to click on the sites marked with a red dot and get further information.

Photo: Don Hitchcock





La Madeleine

View down the Vézère valley from the Medieval La Madeleine rock shelter.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008


La Madelaine

Map of the location of La Madeleine on the Vézère River

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Display at La Madeleine


La Madelaine

Aerial photograph of the location of La Madeleine on the Vézère River. Note that according to the legend on this photograph, the gisement, or archaeological site, of La Madeleine is not accessible to the public. Thus the rock shelter used in mediaeval times shown above may or may not have been used during the Magdalenian. I would appreciate further information on this point. However it seems certain that the major archaeological site is further downstream from the cave shown above. I understand that the gisement of La Madeleine, an historic monument since October 1956, is now private property.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Display at La Madeleine

La Madeleine gisement La Madeleine gisement La Madeleine gisement


La Madeleine gisement La Madeleine gisement

Le gisement, or archeological site, of la Madeleine, downstream from the tourist site and the medieval rock shelter of La Madeleine

Photo: http://www.pole-prehistoire.com/page_site.php?site=20

Photo credits:
Christine Dubourg, Service archéologique départemental Dordogne, Christine Dubourg, Service archéologique départemental Dordogne, Service archéologique départemental Dordogne.




La Madeleine gisement

Looking upstream along the Vézère River from the Medieval Rock Shelter at the tourist site of La Madeleine.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




Map of the Magdalenian
Maps showing a) the extent of the Magdelanian, as well as the the maximum extent of Weichselian glaciations (the last glacial maximum, LGM, between 26 500 and 19 000 - 20 000 BP) and distribution of loess covers in Europe (orange patches); b) the Late Weichselian major glacial phases (Pz = Poznan, Pm = Pomerania, Ga = Gardno, Sb = Stupsk Bank, Sm = Southern Middle Bank), distribution of loess covers in Poland (orange patches).

(This is an important map which shows how widespread the Magdalenian culture was, from relatively warm coastal areas in southern France and Spain, to continental climates within fifty kilometres of the ice sheet at its maximum extent, although of course at the time of the Magdalenian, 18 000 BP to 10 000 BP the ice sheets were in retreat from their maximum extent at the LGM. The site of Klementowice in Poland, known since the early 1980s, is the furthest east and north which displays this culture - Don )

Photo: Wisniewski et al. (2012)




Map of the Magdalenian





Location map of Homo Sapiens during Magdalenian culture, between 17 000 ~ 10 000 BP.

Photo: Sémhur, Furfur
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.






At the end of 1863, Edouard Lartet, a palaeontologist, and his friend and benefactor Henry Christy discovered the shelter of La Madeleine by the side of the Vézère River. They were returning from investigating Le Moustier a few kilometres away, and noticed a large shelter on the right bank of the river. At this time there was no bridge, and they stopped a passing boat for assistance in crossing the river. A search was carried out with shovels and spades, and they began to realise the importance of the site. Each level revealed the presence of mankind: burins, flint blades, spear points. Numerous unrecognised objects turned up, made from unknown bones: harpoons, spears, needles, and numerous artefacts made from reindeer antlers. They decided to leave a serious investigation until spring.

The next spring, they continued their research. In May 1864 workers discovered five fragments of an ivory plate, which once reassembled, revealed an exceptional engraving of a mammoth. The accuracy of the engraving confirmed without doubt that the artist had observed the living creature and reproduced it in accurate detail: wooly coat, tusks, and hump were all faithfully recorded. The rear end of the animal was also clearly defined.

madeleine map




Map of the shelter of La Madeleine.

Photo: Patrick Paillet
Source: Paillet (2011)




plan of la Madeleine excavations








The plan of the gisement at la Madeleine by Capitan and Peyrony, as well as some cross sections.

Photo: after Capitan et Peyrony (1928)




mammoth engraving




Drawing (engraving) of a woolly mammoth engraved on a plate of ivory found in the cavern of La Madeleine, Perigord

Photo: C. Lyell 'The Antiquity of Man' (1873)




mammoth engraving




Woolly mammoth engraved on a plate of ivory found in La Madeleine.

(note that this is a photo of a facsimile. The original is not in good condition, see below - Don )

Photo: Delporte.




mammoth engraving




A recent photograph of the mammoth from La Madeleine.

In its present size, the fragment of La Madeleine mammoth ivory measures 248 mm long and 106 mm width. Its thickness is 18 mm section on the left side and 8 mm on the fracture.

Photo: © Patrick Paillet (2009) avec l’autorisation du Département « Histoire de la Terre », Muséum national d’histoire naturelle.
Source: Paillet (2011)




mammoth engraving




A recent tracing of the mammoth from La Madeleine.

Photo: © Patrick Paillet (2009)
Source: Paillet (2011)




mammoth engraving




A selective tracing of the mammoth from La Madeleine.

Photo: © Patrick Paillet (2009)
Source: Paillet (2011)




mammoth engraving




The back of the piece of ivory on which the woolly mammoth was engraved in La Madeleine.

Photo: © Patrick Paillet (2009) avec l’autorisation du Département « Histoire de la Terre », Muséum national d’histoire naturelle.
Source: Paillet (2011)




Reindeer and calf Reindeer and calf
Reindeer and calf on a slab of limestone, from the excavations of Peyrony.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Madeleine tools and artefactsLa Madeleine tools and artefacts
1: Ciseau, chisel or wedge.

2: Lissoir, polisher, used to stretch hides during the tanning process.

3: Aiguille, eyed needle.

4: Poinçon, awl, used to make holes in hides preparatory to sewing.

5: Pointe double, thin rod sharpened at each end.

6: Propulseur, spear thrower.

7 and 8: Pendeloque, pendant.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Madeleine tools and artefactsLa Madeleine tools and artefacts
9: Sagaie à base fourchue sculptée, engraved spear point with forked base.

10: Sagaie à biseau simple, spear point with a single bevel base.

11: Harpon, harpoon.

12: Baguette demi-ronde, half cylindrical spear point, one of a pair.

13: Harpon, harpoon.

14: Sagaie à biseau double, spear point with a double bevel base.

15: Harpon, harpoon.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Madeleine tools and artefactsLa Madeleine tools and artefacts
16 and 17: Perçoir, drill.

18: Pointe de Laugerie-Basse, point typical of some points from Laugerie-Basse.

The Laugerie-Basse point has a particular shape and method of retouch which makes it quite unique.

Photo: (left) Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye

Photo: (right) Bordes et al. (1973)




La Madeleine tools and artefactsLa Madeleine tools and artefacts
19 to 22: Lamelle à dos, small backed blade.

23: Lamelle denticulé, small toothed blade.

24, 25, 26: Burin.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Madeleine tools and artefactsLa Madeleine tools and artefacts
27, 28: Burin

30: Grattoir double, scraper on each end of the tool.

31 and 32: Grattoir , scraper.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Madeleine tools and artefacts
33, 34, 35: Grattoir, scraper.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye








In 1868 Gabriel de Martillet established a new timescale for the prehistoric centuries, and La Madelaine became the type site for "Magdalenian" times.



baton perce

Larger version

Bâton percé in deer antler.

Magdalenian, between 17 000 and 10 000 BP.

La Madeleine, Tursac, Dordogne, France.

Former collection of Édouard Lartet (1801 - 1871), Muséum of Toulouse.

Size : 165x48x21 mm

Photo: Original, Didier Descouens
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.




The site was also studied by Paul Girod and Elie Massenet, as well as numerous amateur investigators. Denis Peyrony restarted the research in 1911, and refined knowledge of the site. In 1926 the skeleton of a three year old child was discovered, with exquisite shell jewellery, dating from the end of the Magdalenian period. In 1968, following several years without further developments, the research was restarted by Jean-Marc Bouvier.

reindeer on bone

Fragment of decorated reindeer metatarsal (bone) engraved on the obverse surface with two reindeer, one of which is now incomplete; decorated bone; Palaeolithic; Madeleine, France.

Photo: © The Trustees of the British Museum
Text: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/9847457/Ice-Age-Art-in-pictures.html?frame=2470431










spike or compresseur

Assegai (spear point) with double beveled base from la Madeleine. Two views of the same object.



Sagaie à base biseautée double. Deux vues du même objet.

Magdalenian
Locality: Tursac, Dordogne, France ; site of La Madelaine
217 x 18 x 15 mm, 21.3 g
Collection Edouard & Louis Lartet
Muséum of Toulouse MHNT.PRE.2010.0.1.4

Photo: Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr
commissioned by Wikimédia France
Permission: licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license.




Madeleine tools




These are exceptionally well made tools from La Madeleine.

Photo: http://www.aggsbach.de/




horse on baton percé
Perforated baton with low relief horse, 16.6 cm long.

Late Magdalenian, about 12 500 years old
From the rockshelter of La Madeleine, Dordogne, France
Made from reindeer antler

Between about 14 000 and 10 000 years ago, many objects made of bone and antler were decorated with animals. At La Madeleine, horses seem to have been a particular favourite. Here the surface of the antler around the outline of the horse has been scraped away, so the body stands out in low relief.

The line of the horses' chest, the way in which the front legs point towards the back and the upward position of the tail all suggest that the animal is running. Its head and eye are large and not accurately to scale with the body. This may be the artist's way of emphasising the character of the animal in a small space. It is a common technique in portable art, but one that is rarely seen in the painted cave art of the period.


Source: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_image.aspx?image=k125497.jpg&retpage=21186

Photo and Text: © The British Museum

Other Data:
Length: 16.600 cm
Excavated and bequeathed by Henry Christy
P&EE Sieveking Catalogue no. 310
Room 2





spear straightener

Same object as above, perforated baton with low relief horse, Late Magdalenian, about 12 500 years old, from the rockshelter of La Madeleine, Dordogne, France.

Made from reindeer antler, on display in the British Museum.

Photo: Johnbod
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.




La Madeleine tools and artefacts
Bâton percé gravé figurant une file de chevaux, spear straightener engraved with a line of three horses.

13 000 BP, reindeer antler, 31 cm long.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




spear straighteners

Pierced batons from la Madeleine.

Photo: Johnbod
Permission: licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Source: BM Ice Age Art Event, 2011


Angles sur anglin



Fish carved in reindeer antler.

Photo: http://anetcha-parisienne.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/en-passant-par-saint-germain-en-laye.html
Source: Facsimiles on display at Le Musée de Saint-Germain-en-Laye






wall relief wall relief

Reclining female figure on the wall at La Madeleine. Her arms are extended, and the left leg is crossed over the right, with the left knee obscuring the right ankle. Large breasts and a pubic triangle are shown, but no face.

Length 100 cm, height 76 cm

Photo: Vialou (1991)


woman bas relief

La Magdeleine: femme étendue (paroi gauche) La Magdeleine: Reclining woman (left wall)


Photo: André leroi-Gourhan L'art pariétal Langage de la préhistoire




woman bas relief



Another version of the reclining nude, left wall.

Photo: Leroi-Gourhan (1973)




woman bas relief



Reclining nude, left wall, drawing.

Photo: Leroi-Gourhan (1973)




woman bas relief



Reclining nude, right wall.

Photo: Leroi-Gourhan (1973)




wall relief wall relief

Reclining female figure on the right wall at La Madeleine.

Length 91 cm, height 28 cm

Photo: Lorblanchet (1995)


woman bas relief



Reclining nude, drawing, right wall.

Photo: Leroi-Gourhan (1973)




Squelette panorama

The skeleton of the child burial at La Madeleine.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008




La sépulture de l'enfant de la Madeleine
Magdalénien final


Découverte par D. Peyrony en 1926, cette sépulture d'un enfant de 2 à 4 ans vient d'être datée par spectrométrie de masse de 10 190 ± 100 B.P. (fin de Magdalénien)

La structure funéraire reste modeste: une simple fosse accueille le corps allongé sur le dos; la tête placée au Sud, est entourée de trois pierres. Cette simplicité contraste avec une parure exceptionelle (présentée ci-contre), probablement ocrée, composée de près de 1500 pièces réparties sur le corps.

Burial of the la Madeleine child
Final Magdalenian

Discovered by D. Peyrony in 1926, this burial of a child 2 to 4 years old has been dated by mass spectrometry at 10 190 ± 100 BP (the end of the Magdalenian)

The funeral was modest: a simple pit houses the body lying on her back, her head placed to the south, and was surrounded by three stones. This simplicity contrasts with an exceptional adornment, probably sprinkled with ochre, comprising nearly 1 500 shells spread over the body. (possibly originally attached to a garment - Don)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
Text: Display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac

Parure Parure
La parure de l'enfant de La Madeleine (Tursac, Dordogne) est fortement enracinée dans le monde magdalénien, bien que datée de 10 190 ± 100 B.P.

En 1927, Denis Peyrony la découvrit ainsi: " [Le] squelette était allongé, étendu sur le dos, suivant la direction Nord-Sud, la tête vers ce dernier point [...]. De nombreux petits coquillages perforés (dentales et turritelles) et des dents percées, se trouvaient dans la région des chevilles, des genoux, des poignets, des coudes, du cou et de la tête [...]. Le cadavre de cet enfant enduit de rouge (saupoudré d'ocre, ou plus vraisemblablement peint avec cette matière), avait été déposé là soigneusement, orné d'une riche parure". L'analyse récente des objets renseigne sur la fabrication, l'assemblage et l'utilisation de cette parure. L'usure des coquillages, tronçonnés en tubes de petite taille, indique que les dentales auraient pu être cousus sur l'habit et que l'enfant aurait pu porter le vêtement de son vivant.




Le nombre d'objets impliqués et le temps nécessaire à la réalisation de cette parure évoquent une motivation dépassant l'affection parentale. Serait-ce lié à une hiérarchisation sociétale à base héréditaire ou à un statut social propre à cette classe d'âge dans les sociétés de la fin du Paléolithique Supérieur?
  1. Dentalium sp. (1275)
  2. Cyclopes (5)
  3. Turritelles (19)
  4. Néritenes (24)
  5. Canine de renard
  6. Phalange de lagomorphe
  7. Humérus de lagomorphe
  8. Vertèbre de poisson
The parure (a parure is a set of various items of matching jewellery) of the child from La Madeleine is strongly rooted in the Magdalenian world, although dated 10 190 ± 100 BP, at the very end of the period.

In 1927, Denis Peyrony discovered the burial: "The skeleton was lying, stretched out on its back, in the North-South direction, head to the South.... Many small perforated shells (Dentalia and Turritella) and pierced teeth were in the region of the ankles, knees, wrists, elbows, neck and head. The corpse of the child, which was covered with red ochre (sprinkled, or more likely painted with ochre), was removed carefully, and was decorated with a rich parure. The child wore seashells, cut into small tubes, so that the Dentalia shells could be sewn onto the garment, and the child could wear the vestments for the rest of time.

The number of objects involved and the time required to achieve this dress evoke motivation beyond parental affection. Could this be related to a social hierarchy based hereditary or social status specific to this age group in the societies of the late Upper Palaeolithic?
  1. Dentalium sp. (1275)
  2. Cyclope sp. (5)
  3. Turritella (19)
  4. Néritenes (Neritidae?) (24)
  5. Fox canine tooth
  6. Lagomorpha phalange (Lagomorpha are animals from the hare/rabbit family)
  7. Lagomorpha humerus (Lagomorpha are animals from the hare/rabbit family)
  8. Fish vertebra
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac


plan of la Madeleine sepulture
Excavated by D. Peyrony in 1926 (Peyrony 1926, 1927, Capitan et Peyrony 1928) in the eponymous site of the Magdalenian, the tomb of the La Madeleine child was discovered in a strongly ochred depression, located in the eastern part of the shelter 260 cm from the wall.

Although Peyrony estimated the remains to be of a child of 5 to 7 years old, they correspond more closely to an individual aged between 2 and 4 years of age.

The child had been deposited lying on the back. The head, facing south, was surrounded by three stones and decorated, as was the neck, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles by "many small shells and perforated teeth" (Capitan et Peyrony, 1928). Unfortunately, Peyrony did not give more precise information on the nature and location of these objects.

Their representation in the drawing that illustrates the burial site of the monograph is too schematic to identify them and do not reveal morphological differences sufficient to identify each category of objects and identify their location on the skeleton.

In its inventory of shell ornaments associated with this burial Taborin (1993) mentions 900 Dentalium, 160 Neritina, 20 Cyclope and 36 Turritella shells.

The attribution of this tomb in Magdalenian IV, given by Capitan and Peyrony and accepted by most authors, has recently been contradicted by the direct dating by AMS 14C of a fragment of the skull of the child which gave an age of 10,190 ± 100 BP (95,457 GIFA) or 9990-10390 cal BP, which assigns the child to the Azilian period.

Photo: Capitan et Peyrony (1928)

Text: translated from Vanhaeren et d’Errico (2001)






Photo: Vanhaeren M., d’Errico F., 2001. La parure de l’enfant de la Madeleine (fouilles Peyrony). Un nouveau regard sur l’enfance au Paléolithique supérieur, Paléo 2001.




parures - ornaments from the child burial




Ornaments found in a box labelled "Magdalenian IV" but probably belonging to the La Madeleine child.

Photo and text: Vanhaeren et d’Errico (2001)




map of likely source of Dentalium






It seems likely that the Dentalium shells used for parure on the Madeleine child were collected from beaches. Shown on the map are the location of the La Madeleine site and Miocene fossil outcrops from Saucats-La Brède. Coastline at 10 ka BP is indicated by a solid line, present day coast by an interrupted line.

Bottom: Geological map with the location of the La Madeleine site (white dot). C3EZ: Middle–Upper Coniacian, C4BS: Lower Santonian, C4MZ: Middle Santonian, A, E, C, FC, FX: Quaternary formations.

While the identification of the source of shells used as personal ornaments is crucial for determining home range and exchange networks of prehistoric hunter-gatherers, it is often difficult to identify the coastal versus fossil origin of the shells as most genera used as beads were available both at beaches and fossil outcrops. Here we present the first application of 87Sr / 86Sr isotope dating to identify the origin of Upper Palaeolithic shell beads. We analysed four out of a collection of one thousand Dentalium shells associated to the La Madeleine child burial dated to and one Dentalium from the occupation layers of this site.

87Sr / 86Sr ratios indicate that shells were collected by Late Upper Palaeolithic beadworkers on far away beaches rather than at nearer Miocene outcrops. This may be due to the narrowness of Miocene Dentalium shells, incompatible with the size of bone needles used to sew these shell beads on clothes.

Photo and text: Vanhaeren et al (2004)




madeleine pebble




Human profile engraved on a pebble from la Madeleine.

Photo: http://www.arretetonchar.fr/




Cyclope neritea
Cyclope neritea, one of the cyclope shells, from Spain, San Carlos de la Rapita. On sand, 20 cm deep. June 2001.

This is probably not the same species as was used for the La Madeleine parure, but gives some idea of the genus.

Photo: http://www.conchology.be/en/availableshells/shellsforsaledetails.php?uniquenumber=305516#f




Theodoxus fluviatilis
Theodoxus fluviatilis, common name the river nerite, is a small species of freshwater and brackish water snail with a gill and an operculum. It is an aquatic gastropod mollusk in the family Neritidae, the nerites. (This I think is similar to the shells labelled Néritenes in the display of the parure of the Magdalenian child. - Don)

Photo: Wikipedia




Turritella
There are many species of Turritella, and those in the parure were not identified to species, but one of the most common in Europe is Turritella communis, a species of medium-sized sea snails with an operculum, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Turritellidae.

The photo shows three beachworn shells of Turritella communis from North Wales

Photo: Wikipedia




Parure Parure Parure
Parures Funéraires

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Parure Parure Parure


Evocation d'une parure paléolithique
F. Boutis, 2004

La réalisation de ces pièces contemporaines s'est appuyée sur l'étude d'éléments de parures paléolithique.

Evocation of a Paleolithic parure
F. Boutis, 2004

This beautiful recreation was based on study of the elements of Paleolithic decorated clothing.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Parure
Several views of a single deer canine, drilled for a necklace.

Photo: (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Collier_1.8_global.jpg)
Date: 14 juin 2010
Photo: Didier Descouens
Permission: En tant que détenteur du droit d’auteur, je publie cette œuvre sous la licence suivante : w:fr:Creative Commons, paternité partage à l’identique. Ce fichier est disponible selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Paternité – Partage des conditions initiales à l’identique 3.0 Unported

Source: Original on display at the Muséum de Toulouse MHNT PRE 2010.0.1.8 (Size 20x11x7 mm)




Carved rod

Photo of a human figure, snake and horse heads on a bone from La Madeleine, indicating two arced leaves on a branch. Note the depth of the engraved notational marks at the left.

Photo and text: Marshack (1972)



Carved rod

This is Marshack's drawing of the piece above.

Photo: Marshack (1972)




Carved rod

This is Breuil's drawing of the piece above. Note that, as Marshack points out, the twig the man is carrying has leaves which arc in an opposite direction to the one on the object, and also that the mouth and eye drawn by Breuil are not really there, but only seem to be there because of breaks and marks on the bone.

Photo and text: Marshack (1972)




Parure
A necklace from Abri du Rocher de la Peine, near Les Eyzies.

It is Magdelenian in age, and consists of three cave bear teeth and one lion tooth, together with other drilled teeth and shells, including fossil Dentalium shells.

This is the description from Beloit College, the Logan Museum of Anthropology:

Magdalenian IV, ca. 12 000 BP

Dentalium shell and bear, lion, fox and deer teeth

Largest tooth 8.5 cm

Rocher de la Peine, Les Eyzies (Dordogne), France

Museum Purchase

LMA 4.7.253

These objects were purchased in 1925 from Jean Esclafer, a local miller who had excavated the site, and from whom the Logan Museum leased the site for further exploration. Three of the large teeth are bear canines, the fourth is from a lion (second from the right). A number of smaller teeth are also present: a wolf incisor, a deer canine and incisor, and a fox canine.

Photo and text: http://www.istmira.com/foto-i-video-pervobytnoe-obschestvo/3923-iskusstvo-predystorii-pervobytnost-1.html




Parure

Necklace detail.

LMA 4.7.253

A detail of the lion canine reveals a series of incisions along all sides of the tooth. The tooth has been flattened and drilled for use as a pendant in a necklace. The incisions may indicate that this was considered a valued piece, perhaps because it came from a lion rather than from the more common bear.

Photo and text: http://www.beloit.edu/logan_online/exhibitions/virtual_exhibitions/before_history/europe/rocher_de_la_peine.php




Parure
Necklace detail from Rocher de la Peine.

LMA 4.7.253

A variety of other teeth and shell form the remainder of the pendants. Here we have, (from the top), a red deer incisor, turritella shell, fox canine and cowrie shell. Such variety indicates the relative rarity of the various pieces, as well as a degree of artistic sensibility.

The site at the Abri Rocher de la Peine was excavated in 1926 by George Collie and Alonzo Pond, and has been referred to as the "Logan Museum site". The site yielded a large number of ivory objects.

Photo and text: http://www.beloit.edu/logan_online/exhibitions/virtual_exhibitions/before_history/europe/rocher_de_la_peine.php




rocher de la pein postcard




An early postcard of the Abri Rocher de la Peine.

Photo: Oeuil de Lynx, http://www.flickr.com/photos/oeuil_de_lynx/2250600432/lightbox/




rocher de la pein postcard



Abri Rocher de la Peine, 2007.

Photo: mettekoo, via Panoramio.




Bison Bison Bison




Carvings from La Madeleine in the Dordogne

These stunning pieces of art were used as propulseurs. A bison licking its shoulder on the left, a hyena in the centre.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac

Another version of the hyena above:

Hyena

This is a large, high quality, in focus version of this very important work, and I am grateful to the uploader of the image. I have flipped it horizontally to agree with reality.

Wikipedia text: Part of a spear thrower made ​​of reindeer antler, found in the Abri La Madeleine (Tursac in the Dordogne, France). Exhibit of the National Prehistoric Museum in Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Photo: Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany
Permission: Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0 Germany




(note that this photo seems to have been slightly stretched longitudinally compared with the photo I took, shown above this one. Perhaps it is just the angle at which my photo is taken, which has slightly foreshortened my image. However, the Wikipedia image has been horizontally flipped at the time of writing, 19th October 2011, which I have remedied here.

At the time of writing, readers may compare the versions at:

http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Propulseur_hy%C3%A8ne_rampante_-_La_Madeleine_-_Tursac_-_MNP.png&filetimestamp=20110823160802

The first, out of focus version is not horizontally flipped, but all subsequent photos on Wikipedia have been. The last, not shown on donsmaps.com, has been outlined to remove the background, which is rarely a good idea. I am very grateful that Wikipedia gives the various versions which have been posted, a very responsible attitude, such as we have come to expect from Wikipedia in all sorts of ways. I had not realised before the great value of this particular idiosyncrasy of Wikipedia - Don
)




Harpoons





Harpoons from La Madeleine in the Dordogne

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Harpoons





Harpoons from La Madeleine in the Dordogne

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Lamp Lamp


Lamp Lamp


Lamp

Lamps carved in sandstone. They would have had fat or oil in the depression, with a twist of moss or string for a wick.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




plaque plaque



Engravings on stone, Magdalenian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




reindeer



Engraving of a reindeer on stone, Magdalenian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




aurochs



Engraving of an aurochs on stone, Magdalenian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




horse



Engraving of a horse on stone, Angles-sur-Anglin , Vienne, France, Magdalenian.

This is a masterwork. The artist knew and understood horses intimately.

Photo: World Imaging
Permission: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Source: Original on display at Le Musée d'Archéologie Nationale




Ibex



Ibex carved on a rib, from Grotte des Eyzies, Magdalenian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




Bison



Bison carved on a lissoir, a polisher, from Arancou, Magdalenian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




pendant

Bone pendant decorated with an engraved drawing of a wolverine, Late Magdalenian, around 12&nbp;500 years old.

Probably from the cave of Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France

Photo: Johnbod
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


horses







Two horses carved on a compresseur or spear thrower, from La Madeleine.



Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac








Venus of La Madeleine

Ciseau



This piece was labelled "Ciseau - Magdalénien moyen" which translates literally as "Chisel - Middle Magdalenian". It is 131 mm long.

It looked to me more like a rough draft for a venus figure, and Duhard (2009-2010) (see below) agree.

It was discovered by Capitan and Peyrony at La Madeleine, (Capitan et Peyrony, 1928) and was described as a dagger blade made of reindeer antler. 'It was decorated with deep oblique furrows, symmetrical, two by two, from the edge and converging towards the middle without meeting. The handle bears a longitudinal groove and three arcs deeply incised, presumably to avoid slipping when held in the hand. The deep incisions were probably intended to promote the flow of blood from injured animals.'

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




horses horses horses horses
(left) Anterior side (cortical bone), 131 mm long.
(left centre) Right lateral side with bow form frieze
(right centre) Back (spongy bone)
(right) Left lateral side with longitudinal groove.

This object, elongated and with a semi-circular section, is shown in a case in Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, and labeled 'fragment of antler, chisel'.

Its true nature did not escape N. Aujoulat who in his inventory of portable art of the MNP, has called it a 'probable anthropomorphic sculpture'. Rightly so, because it is actually a human, specifically a female figure carved and engraved, represented by the upper trunk to the beginning of the thighs.

Coming from the Magdalenian IV, this is a segment of cortical reindeer antler, an elongated and round semi-section 131 mm long, 30 mm wide and 13 mm thick, cut from a reindeer antler, probably in the antler or antlers of the central stem.

Reindeer had to be the principal game because 'reindeer antlers were piled up in all directions and formed a powerful deposit in the lower layer' as reported by Capitan et Peyrony, (1928)

The object is unlikely to have been used as a dagger or chisel. Nothing is less certain: it is small, appears fragile and has no sharp proximal or distal end.

Photo and text: Duhard (2009-2010)




horses

Detail of the pelvis, 30 mm wide.

Photo and text: Duhard (2009-2010)









Baton percé Batons percé


Batons percé
Batons perforé - 1, 2, 3, Magdalénien moyen, 4, 5 Magdalénien supérieur

Pierced baton - 1, 2, 3 Middle Magdalenian, 4, 5 Upper Magdalenian

Note that baton 1 (left) has been carved with the likeness of two aurochs or bison, or one of each - they have the characteristic "beard" of a bison.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




(Bâtons de commandement or bâtons percé or batons perforé have been pretty much decided to have been spear straighteners, (which may be why they are often found broken at the hole). No one seriously thinks they were marks of rank within the community any more.

The spears used are more properly referred to as darts, they were not the strong thrusting spear as used by, say, the Romans, but a long, thin, whippy piece of wood. The ability to bend is an integral part of why they are able to be thrown such long distances. The bend stores up energy which is released in the form of extra speed as it leaves the spear thrower.

An alternative explanation, and one that has been confirmed by experiment, is that the batons can be used as spear throwers or atlatls. You can attach a thong near (but not at) the end of a spear, thread the thong through the hole, lay it along the baton, hold the baton and the thong and the spear (!) in one hand, and by deft handling, send the spear and the attached thong on its way just as with a conventional spear thrower, of which there are of course many examples. I have read of one of these batons showing wear from a leather thong, so it is possible that some were used in that way. You've then got a spear thrower and a spear straightener all in the one tool! - Don
)

Penis Penis
Gauche (14) - Phallus sur antler - Magdalénien supérieur
Left (14) - Phallus carved from "antler" (deer or reindeer?) - Upper Magdalenian

Droit (12) - Phallus sur bois de renne - Magdalénien supérieur
Right (12) - Phallus carved from reindeer antler - Upper Magdalenian



Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac

Penis on baton percé
Gauche (12) - Bâton percé - Magdalénien supérieur
Left (12) - Pierced baton - Upper Magdalenian

Droit (13) - Bois de renne sculpté d'une tête de cheval - Magdalénien supérieur
Right (13 - Reindeer antler sculpted into the shape of a horse's head.



Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac

compresseurs
19 La Madelaine - Compresseur - Magdalénien

20 Saint-Germain-la-Rivière - Bâton percé (pierced baton) - Magdalénien

21 Grotte des Eyzies - Fragment de côte (rib) - Magdalénien

22 Pont-d'Ambon - Fragment d'os (fragment of bone) - Azilien

23 Laugerie-Basse Bois de cervidé (deer antler) - Magdalénien

(Note - number 20 seems mislabelled, it seems not to be a Bâton percé, it is much more likely to be a compresseur, used for doing delicate retouch on a flint tool - Don)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac





harpoon and spikes






Harpoon and spikes from l'Abri de la Madeleine.

Photo: World Imaging, 2009
Source: Musée d'Archéologie Nationale
Permission: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.





La Madeleine tools La Madeleine tools


La Madeleine tools
La Madeleine tools.

Denis Peyrony is a giant of the field in this area. He made many important discoveries, and was indefatigable in his endeavours to find and recover for science evidence of the former inhabitants of the Dordogne.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac





carved plaque carved plaque
Gauche - Ciseau - Magdalénien supérieur
Left - Chisel- Upper Magdalenian

(Note - Ciseau translates as chisel, and I have found that they are used for scraping, or at least have marks due to scraping, but I am very unsure of their exact mode of use. They may also have been used to split open pregrooved bones along the line of weakness. Some have marks of percussion on the blunt end, as in a chisel. The ones I have seen have all been decorated, but this might be because decorated tools are more likely to be photographed and displayed - Don)

Right - Plaquette - Magdalénien supérieur
Right - Carved plaque - Upper Magdalenian

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac





propulseur
Propulseur - Magdalénien moyen

Propulseur - Middle Magdalenian

(This propulseur is enigmatic, it reminds me of a fish shape, but it is difficult to identify the carvings as anything in particular. I would like to have been able to turn it over and examine it more carefully. I fancy I can make out an animal's head lightly engraved into the right hand side of the object - Don)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac





coxal bone
Coxal d'herbivore - Magdalénien moyen

Coxal bone of a herbivore - Middle Magdalenian

(The coxal bone is part of the pelvis. This one has been decorated with a carving of what could be a reindeer or horse - Don)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac





propulseur
Épois - Magdalénien moyen

Point from the end of a deer's antlers, decorated with what could be a horse or a deer - Middle Magdalenian



Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac





carved  bone
Diaphyse - Magdalénien moyen

Decorated long bone - Middle Magdalenian

This is a curious creature. It bears some resemblance to an otter. Only one rear limb is shown on the engraving.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




carved  bone


This image of two creatures is remarkably similar to the otter-like one above, but importantly, it is shown wearing neckbands, bracelets and anklets. These creatures may be human, or figures from mythology, or even two images of an animal god of some kind. They may also represent a shaman dressed in shape-shifting clothes and mask.

The creatures are marked with barbs and other symbols, but it is not certain what they represent.

Source: "Exploring the Ice Age" by Margaret Cooper, copyright 2001, isbn 0-689-82556-0

The book says that it comes from a French Pyrenees rock shelter, but no other information is given. It comes from Isturitz, and is of Magdalenian age.

My thanks to Marion for bringing this excellent book to my attention.

carved  bone


Another photo of the object above, apparently of the original.

Source: http://prehistoart.canalblog.com/

The web page says it comes from Isturitz, it is ten centimetres long, and that on the other side is the image of a bison and the rump of another. The barbed signs are apparently not uncommon in the art of Isturitz, and it assumes that the two figures are of women.




carved  bone

Photo: http://polephylogenie.free.fr/GrotteIsturitz.htm

This is a drawing of the two sides of the bone. It shows clearly the barbs on both sets of images.

According to this site, JA Mauduit describes the object in 40 000 ans d'Art Moderne:
"A man lying naked, adorned with bracelets, reaches for a woman lying before him. The woman is strong and hairy, and on her thigh, an arrow with a triple row of barbs, the symbol of his conquest. The engraving on the other side is not unrelated to the previous one: it is a bison male ready to mate with a female of which there are the hindquarters and tail erect, the male also has on the shoulder of barbed arrows.

Source: Figure taken from the book of Heuvelmans et Porchnev, p. 430.




carved  bone



And yet another image, this one showing the reverse side, with the two bison. Note that the breast of the woman in front is lying flat on her chest, as though she is standing up.

Photo: "Journey through the ice age" by Paul G. Bahn, Jean Vertut




carved  bone
Ronde-Bosse de patte de cheval- Magdalénien moyen

Carving of a horse - Middle Magdalenian

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




carved  bone
Ronde-Bosse de bison- Magdalénien moyen

Carving of a bison - Middle Magdalenian

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




female reindeer and fawn



Female reindeer and fawn engraved on a stone block. Such careful and realistic representation is typical of Leroi-Gourhan's late Style IV, from La Madelaine, Dordogne. 65 cm in length.

Photo: Sieveking (1979)
Source: Original on display at Le Musée de Saint-Germain-en-Laye




horse

Horse engraved on a stone block, Magdalenian.



Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




carved  bone

Broken bone rod from La Madeleine engraved with the head of a bear facing a complex phallic form. Upper Magdalenian.

Photo and text: Marshack (1972)



carved  bone

Baguette demi-ronde- Magdalénien supérieur

This baguette demi-ronde is possibly one half of a projectile point that together with another similar one would form a specific point - a baguette demi-ronde. - Middle Magdalenian

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008, Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




(The carvings on this piece are surreal - what looks like a bear's head and a double phallus.

As far as I can make out, baguette demi-rondes were fixed to a shaft, (somehow!) and the reason for the half round shape, i.e. round on one side, flat on the other, is that they were tied together around a flint (or bone or ivory I suppose) projectile point, with the flat sides against the point and each other, the round shape towards the outside.

Thus the two round sides made a roughly cylindrical shape, which could then be, say, inserted in a socket in the spear shaft and secured in some way. The end of the spear shaft could also have been whittled down to a tongue shape, flat on both sides, around which the two baguette demi-rondes were placed and secured with cord. If I was doing it, that's what I would try first. The darts weren't really of a large enough diameter to be able to carve a hole to accept the baguette demi-ronde. Harpoon shafts, however, were used more as thrusting spears as far as I can work out, so they could be of a much larger diameter, into which you could carve a socket.

Birch bark glue may have been used, and the glue would also have been used to strengthen the cords holding the two halves together. Birch bark glue is a very difficult glue to make, but the technique was well understood at that time.

The advantage is that if the flint is broken by impact with the ground or a bone, you can simply insert another flint head, attach it with cord or a leather thong, and you are ready to hunt again. You then only have to carry a few spear shafts and many light and easily packed flints when you go on a hunt, apart from the other things you need.

The spears used are more properly referred to as darts, they were not the strong thrusting spear as used by, say, the Romans, but a long, thin, whippy piece of wood. The ability to bend is an integral part of why they are able to be thrown such long distances. The bend stores up energy which is released in the form of extra speed as it leaves the spear thrower, and the spear straightens.

I emphasise that this is all conjecture on my part, I have been unable to get anything more than very unsatisfactory allusions to the technique.

However the idea of a fore-shaft is one that was used in a number of cases, and especially for harpoon heads. Methods were needed to attach bone or ivory harpoon heads to the shaft of the harpoon, and I've heard of sockets being used in that instance.

In the abstract of Pearson (1999) you will find this, in reference to north american hunting methods:

Based on the compiled information, a new hafting method for Clovis points is put forth that links the attributes of bi-beveled rods to a specific role within this system. This new hypothesis suggests that bi-beveled rods were tied facing each other around a Clovis point and a main shaft as part of composite clothes pin-like foreshafts.

 - Don )

baguettes

7, 8, 9 - Baguettes demi-ronde.

10, 11 - Bâton percés.

From La Madelaine. Note that the Bâton percé at number 10 is a small, delicate example, as though it was made to straighten lighter, thinner diameter darts.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Originals on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




carved  bone
Base de perche débitée- Magdalénien supérieur

Carved bone - Upper Magdalenian

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Original on display at Le Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac




La Madelaine

La Madeleine Medieval rock shelter panorama

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008


La Madelaine

Panoramic view of part of the inside of the Medieval La Madeleine rock shelter

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008


References

  1. Bordes F., Deffarges, R., de Sonneville-Bordes D., 1973: Les pointes de Laugerie-Basse dans le gisement du Morin. Essai de définition.Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, Comptes rendus des séances mensuelles. 1973, tome 70, N. 5. pp. 145-151.
  2. Capitan L., Peyrony D., 1928: La Madeleine : son gisement, son industrie, ses oeuvres d’art. Paris, Librairie Emile Nourry, 1928.
  3. Duhard J., 2009-2010: Une nouvelle représentation feminine à la Madeleine (Tursac, Dordogne) Paleo, No. 21 – 2009-2010 – Pages 127 à 134
  4. Leroi-Gourhan A., 1973: Prähistorische Kunst: d. Ursprünge d. Kunst in Europa, Herder, 1973 - 601 pages
  5. Lorblanchet M., 1995: Les grottes ornees de la prehistoire: Nouveaux regards, Editions Errance (1995)
  6. Marshack, A., 1972: The Roots of Civilization: the Cognitive Beginning of Man’s First Art, Symbol and Notation New York, McGraw-Hill
  7. Paillet, P., 2011: Le mammouth de la Madeleine (Tursac, Dordogne), Paleo, 22 | 2011, pp 223-270
  8. Pearson, G., 1999: North American Paleoindian Bi-Beveled Bone and Ivory Rods: A New Interpretation, North American Archaeologist, Volume 20, Number 2 / 1999 pp 81 - 103
  9. Peyrony, D., 1926 - Fouille de La Madeleine, Carnet de fouilles D. Peyrony, Archives du Musée national de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, p. 110-112.
  10. Peyrony, D., 1927 - Découverte d’un squelette humain à La Madeleine, Institut International d’Anthropologie, Amsterdam, 1927, 3, p. 318-320.
  11. Pearson, G., 1926 - Fouille de La Madeleine, Carnet de fouilles D. Peyrony, Archives du Musée national de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, p. 110-112.
  12. Sieveking, A., 1979: The Cave Artists, Thames and Hudson
  13. Taborin, Y., 1993: La parure en coquillage au Paléolithique XXIXe supplément à "Gallia Préhistoire" Paris : CNRS, 1993
  14. Vanhaeren, M. et d’Errico, F., 2001: La parure de l’enfant de la Madeleine (fouilles Peyrony). Un nouveau regard sur l’enfance au Paléolithique supérieur, Paléo [En ligne], 13 | 2001, mis en ligne le 26 mai 2010, Consulté le 04 octobre 2010. URL : http://paleo.revues.org/index1058.html
  15. Vanhaeren, M. et d’Errico, F., Billy, I., Grousset F., 2004: Tracing the source of Upper Palaeolithic shell beads by strontium isotope dating, Journal of Archaeological ScienceVolume 31, Issue 10, October 2004, pp. 1481–1488
  16. Vialou D., 1991: La prehistoire (L'univers des formes), Gallimard (1991).
  17. Wisniewski T., Mroczek P., Rodzik J., Zagorski P., Wilczynski J., Nyvltova Fisakova M., 2012: On the periphery of the Magdalenian World: An open-air site in Klementowice, Quaternary International 272-273 (2012) 308 - 321


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