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Tools from the stone age


tools from Kenya 2.5 million years old tools from Kenya 2.5 million years old


tools from Kenya 2.5 million years old


tools from Kenya 2.5 million years old tools from Kenya 2.5 million years old


tools from Kenya 2.5 million years old

Tools from Kenya, 2.5 million years old.

Facsimiles

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Display at Musée National de Préhistoire, Les Eyzies




pendant





A hand axe from Olduvai Gorge, over 1 million years old.

British Museum 1934,1214.59

Taken at the GLAM event on 13th October 2011 at the British Museum.

Photo: Discott
Permission: licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.






ancient tools

Bifacial flint hand axes, 300 000 BP.

From France.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




hand axes

Hand axes from North Africa.

200 000 BP.

These are of a coarse grained material, possibly silcrete.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




hand axes

Hand axes from North Africa.

These appear to be either the same axes as above shown from the other side, or very similar pieces, from a similar display at the same museum in 2012.

Photo: R., 2012
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




hand axes

Hand axes from France.

90 000 - 36 000 BP.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




mousterian hand axe

Flint tool, Mousterian culture, 90 000 - 36 000 BP.

Mousterian ovate hand axe.

Note what may well be a purposeful large flake taken out for a thumb grip.

The blank was struck from a flint core and bifacially worked. This form of production technology and similar tools are known from other European locations, and are named after the Neanderthal site of Le Moustier.

Tools such as this have often been recovered with the skeletal remains of Neanderthals, and are typical of early man.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




rock crystal tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Rock crystal (quartz) tools from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Rock crystal requires specialised techniques to knap, and the bipolar technique is often used. This involves an impactor striking the top of the core which rests on an anvil, with flakes being initiated from both ends of the core.

Rock crystal is sometimes used for large pieces and for microliths, but it often does not break in the consistent way that good flint does. While many of the flakes made from rock crystal are usable, they are difficult to retouch.

It is classified as macrocrystalline, as opposed to microcrystalline for materials such as flint and chalcedony.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany



blades tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Small blades from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Long blades (rather than flakes) appeared during the Aurignacian, or Upper Palaeolithic.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany
Text: Adapted from Wikipedia




blades tools

Small blades from the Upper Palaeolithic.

About 12 000 BP, almost at the end of the last ice age.

These tools are from Switzerland.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




blades tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Larger blades from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Blades were used as knives, and were easier to use if they were hafted, or put on a handle.

They were also the starting point for a wide range of other tools.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




blades tools

Blades from the Upper Palaeolithic.

About 12 000 BP, almost at the end of the last ice age.

Southern Germany.

Note that the blade on the far left has been formed into a percoir, or awl.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




burin tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Burins from the Upper Palaeolithic.

A burin is a flint tool with a chisel-like edge which was used for engraving, or for carving wood or bone.

They were also used for repeatedly scoring bone until a tool could be separated from the substrate in the desired shape.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




stichel

Burins from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




kratzer tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Scrapers from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Scrapers were used for cleaning the meat off hides and bones, and smoothing and shaping wooden tools.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany
Text: Adapted from Wikipedia




schaber tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Scrapers from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




schaber

Scrapers from the Upper Palaeolithic.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




spitzen

Points from the Upper Palaeolithic.

These points were fixed to the end of darts thrown with spear throwers.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




borer tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Drill bits from the Upper Palaeolithic.

These were hafted on a cylindrical stick, and a bow was used to rotate the tool for drilling holes. Very fine drill bits were needed to drill holes for the eye of a needle.

It cannot have been easy to attach the drill bit so that the point was exactly in the right place, spinning true in the centre of rotation.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




round scrapers

Round scrapers from the Upper Palaeolithic.

These are very small, it is difficult to work out exactly how they were used.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




flint cores

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Flint cores from the Upper Palaeolithic, from which tools were struck.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




bone tools

Petersfels, Germany, ca 15 000 BP

Bone tools from the Upper Palaeolithic.

These have been fashioned into bone wedges, points, needles with eyes, and polishers for working leather.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




 microliths
Geometric microliths.

A microlith is a small stone tool usually made of flint or chert and typically a centimetre or so in length and half a centimetre wide. It is produced from either a small blade (microblade) or a larger blade-like piece of flint by abrupt or truncated retouching, which leaves a very typical piece of waste, called a microburin. The microliths themselves are sufficiently worked so as to be distinguishable from workshop waste or accidents.

Two families of microliths are usually defined: laminar and geometric. An assemblage of microliths can be used to date an archeological site.

Laminar microliths are associated with the end of the Upper Paleolithic and the beginning of the Epipaleolithic era.

Geometric microliths are characteristic of the Mesolithic and the Neolithic. Geometric microliths may be triangular, trapezoid or lunate. Microlith production generally declined following the introduction of agriculture (8000 BCE) but continued later in cultures with a deeply-rooted hunting tradition.

Regardless of type, microliths were used to form the points of hunting weapons such as spears and (in later periods) arrows and other artefacts and are found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. They were utilised with wood, bone, resin and fibre to form a composite tool or weapon and traces of wood to which microliths were attached have been found in Sweden, Denmark and England. An average of between six and eighteen microliths may often have been used in one spear or harpoon, but only one or two in an arrow.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany
Text: Adapted from Wikipedia.




production of microliths

Method of the production of geometric microliths.

The original long blade was prepared by knapping suitably shaped sharp edges, then broken to form the microliths.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




 pendulum saw

Pendulum saw, Neolithic.

Hatchets and axes are tools that were used in the Neolithic period for home construction. They consisted of a stone blade and a wooden handle. For the stone blade they usually used river cobblestones.

By cutting up the raw material they could get multiple blades from a single large good quality stone. The cobbles were either cut with sharp-edged thin sandstone slabs, or with a 'swing saw', which was equipped with a blade made ​​of extremely hard flint. This last method was much faster.

Stones cut with a pendulum saw are easily recognised, and indicate that this saw was used in the Neolithic.

In contrast to the 'drill' (shown below) no sand is needed, as the flint blade is harder than the rock.

But it is a lot of work. It takes an hour and a half to cut a 3 cm deep groove in the rock.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




bore machine bore machine


Hole boring machine, Neolithic.

This machine requires a hollow wooden tube, which is supplied by the Elder or Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ), which is a small tree which grows only a few metres tall and tends to grow in poor quality soil. The branches of the elder are hollow, filled with pith which is easily removed.

To make an axe, people either ground it to shape, or knapped the stone. to attach the handle they had to drill a hole.

Thanks to the surviving traces of work on equipment and intermediate goods and by practical tests of experimental archeology, we can now reconstruct the technology of the stone drill.

A hollow elder wand was rotated by pulling a bow back and forth. When sand is added between the soft wooden tube and the stone, it adds friction to the drilling. In the middle of the drill hole a small cylinder forms, which falls out at the end when the hole is bored completely through the stone.

Such cores have been found in Neolithic settlements. Thus, the technique of drilling with a hollow wand has been established.

It remains uncertain, however, exactly what the drilling device looked like. The drill reconstructed here, shows only one way in which the drilling of the stone could have been performed.

The wooden beam which is located by the fork shown, has a stone on the far end out of frame which provides weight to bear on the rotating rod.

Put some sand between the hollow rod and the rock to be drilled.

Take the the bow in one hand and pull lightly on it to tighten the cord, then move the bow back and forth slowly. The elder wand rotates and rubs the sand against the stone surface.

It takes between 10 and 20 hours, depending on the hardness of the stone, to drill the hole through the axe head.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008
Source: Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe Germany




Spear straightener
This is a bâton de commandement/spear straightener/spear thrower/horse bridle found in the Dordogne region.

The two main contenders for the use of this tool are as a spear straightener and as a spear thrower. To be used as a spear thrower, the spear has a leather thong attached which then goes through the hole in the baton, the baton is laid along the spear, with the thong held by the hand, and the thong is released as the spear gains momentum.
Photo: T. Prideaux, 'Cro-Magnon Man'

Les Eyzies spear straightener

Spear straightener from Les Eyzies (facsimile).

Made from reindeer antler, this tool has horses carved into it, either as decoration or possibly as hunting magic.

Photo: Michael Hess
Source: Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt (Main)




tools from Russia tools from Russia
A display of various tools of the Upper Palaeolithic, and the Russian text accompanying it.

Source: Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2007




Text:

1 Иглы

2 ОРУДИЯ труда и охоты

3 "Шары"

4 «Начальнические жезлы»

Рог северного оленя, бивень мамонта, кость

«Начальнические жезлы»


В позднем палеолите были очень широко распространены предметы, назначение которых долгое время вызывало споры среди ученых. Они изготавливались, как правило, из рога северного оленя, отрезанного несколько выше или ниже глазного отростка и имели отверстие в утолщенной части рога. Обычно такие предметы называют «начальническими жезлами». Эти вещи получили свое название еще в годы первых раскопок пещер южной Франции, и были признаны знаком достоинства «начальников первобытных племён»,так как они часто богато украшались орнаментом и изображениями животных. Данное тогда название. сохранилось в научном обиходе, хотя такое толкование этих вещей не пользуется теперь признанием. Более правдоподобно объяснение, поддерживаемое этнографами, которые считают «начальнические жезлы» предметами, близкими к орудиям, широко распространенным среди многих народностей севера Сибири (эскимосы, например часто украшали их резьбой и скульптурными изображениями). Эти орудия служили главным образом для выправления древка стрелы или копья. У других народностей, как например, у рыболовецкого и охотничьего населения низовьев Оби в Западной Сибири еще в XIX веке подобныt инструменты использовались для разминания ремней. В настоящее время назначение «жезлов» подтверждено экспериментальным путем: они служили выпрямителями для выправления стержневидных изделий, которые со временем изгибаются. Употреблялись они и для разминания ремней. Некоторые «жезлы» имеют следы вторичного употребления в качестве ударного и отжимного ретушера (отбойника).



1 Needles

2 Instruments for work and hunting

3 "Spheres" (Perhaps for bolas, or used for grinding ochre or grains? - Don)

4 "Bâtons de Commandement"

Horn of northern deer, Tusk of the mammoth, bone.

«Bâtons de Commandement»


These "Bâtons de Commandement" from the late Palaeolithic have been a source of debate for a long time amongst scientists, and are widely distributed. They were made, as a rule, from the horn of a reindeer, and have had an aperture bored into the horn. They received their name when they were first discovered in the caves of southern France, and were thought to be staffs of authority of the "chiefs of primitive tribes". They are often richly decorated with abstract designs and images of animals.

The name was kept, even though it is now recognised that they were in fact spear straighteners, and are widely distributed amongst many nationalities, including Northern Siberia. Eskimos have frequently decorated them with carved lines and sculptural images.

They were used to straighten arrows and spears, either wood or antler and ivory, or darts thrown using an atlatl. They were used, for example, by the fishing and hunting population of the lower Ob River in Western Siberia in the 19th Century. Some staffs have traces of other uses for retouching flint tools.

One of the instruments shown here may have been used as a hammer.

tool from Olduvai gorge

One of the oldest known products of the human hand is this simple tool of pounded lava . It was found in the lowest stratum of the famous Olduvai site in East Africa. Front and side view.

Photo: Sklenar (1988)




tool from Shandalya or Shandalia

This chopper, made from a small stone, comes from the limestone cave Shandalya or Shandalia I, in the former northern Yugoslavia, the oldest archeological site in Europe. The tools are equivalent to those from Dmanisi, and the deposits of mammalian fauna are similar. (Gabunia, 2000)

Photo: Sklenar (1988)





goat skin cork
These are the most delightful tools I have ever seen. They are from the Perigordian IV, which is 30 000 BP to 28 000 BP.

They are called 'goat skin corks' which have a hand cut screw thread!

I was staggered when I saw them, I was looking for something else, and came across them by chance. You don't expect to find a screw thread in the Palaeolithic!

It would be a great way to get a watertight seal for a wineskin or waterskin. One should never underestimate the ingenuity of the human race. It was a palaeolithic Einstein who came up with that one - and a tour de force for the artisan who actually made it! Think of the special tool that would have been made in order to get it perfect….. It looks like a teamwork job to me, somebody to think of it, a group of people to create the tools necessary, and decide on the materials - wood? bone? ivory? and a long process in order to make it, ironing out the inevitable problems as they occurred.

It also indicates a large measure of affluence. People who live hand to mouth don't come up with a whimsical invention like this, and don't have the time, resources or energy to see the project through.

They are from two different sites, but the same time period. My bet is that both were made at one site, and traded to another. No two people come up with an intellectual leap like that independently, at the same time. It had to have been made by the same artisan or group of artisans, for sure. What is interesting, however, is that this was invented, but never became popular except in one general area at one time, about 30 000 years ago. I am reminded of the invention of ceramics at Dolni Vestonice, which flourished for a short time, then disappeared for tens of thousands of years.

The one on the left is from Roc de Combe-Capelle, and on the right from Fourneau du Diable. They are both in the Dordogne area, about 90 kilometres apart.

Notice that they are both right hand threads, showing that right handedness in humans has been around for a long time - though we knew that anyway because of the differences in arms on the right and the left of skeletons. Mungo Man had a wonky right elbow, either from using a spear thrower or a spear. It is given as evidence of a spear thrower 40 000 years ago, but it could just as well have been from throwing a spear.

The material of both is ivory. Hard to work, but it would be very durable. You are subjecting that thing to a lot of stress. Brass would have been better still……

Note that what follows is my version of how to use the stopper, not something that I know works, I've never actually made or used the complete set of equipment needed. But this thought experiment would be a good start, I reckon.

If I were going to make the whole shebang, I'd start with the complete hide of an animal such as an ibex. Pigs are good, I've drunk wine in spain (very ordinary wine I might add) that was stored in a complete pig's hide. I don't know how they did that, I assume they decided what they were going to do with the hide before they started, and made the smallest incisions possible to get out the squishy bits. The one I saw had only stumps of skin at the legs and neck, tied down firmly as you would expect. The advantage of a larger animal is that, of course, you can store a lot more liquid all at once.

OK, so imagine we've got a skin that is waterproof, an ibex skin say, with an outlet, let's say the front right leg of an ibex. This is a relatively large orifice, but it has a lot of loose skin flapping around. The other openings are folded over and tied down. One of these can be the filling hole, when ready for use as a water container you could untie it, fill the skin, then retie it.

You then take the femur (thighbone) of an aurochs or ibex, or rabbit, whatever you like, they are hollow because they are the repository of marrow, and are close to cylindrical.

Or a human thighbone if you aren't squeamish. Maybe that of your favourite aunt or your worst enemy.

Wood could be used, but it would probably split open very quickly, or immediately, probably, because of the stresses. That stopper is a wedge which would only be resisted by something very tough, like a femur. There are firewood splitters that actually work on the conical thread principle.

If available, I'd use an ibex femur, they average about 18 mm (female) to 22 mm (male) in diameter (Fernandez et al., 2006) at the smallest section of the diaphysis, the shaft of the femur. The lower, thickest part of those two screw threads is about 10 mm, so an ibex femur would be ideal.

All you'd do is circumscribe the bone at two convenient places near the middle where you are going to snap the rest of the bone off, either end.

Then circumscribe a few shallow (at least two) grooves in between the two deeper grooves. This provides a good method for securing the bone in the next step. Snap off the two ends at the two deeper grooves.

Wrap the loose skin of the wineskin at the orifice left unsealed around the bone cylinder, and make the junction waterproof by tying tightly with cords at the two (or more) grooves. This will form the pouring spout of the wineskin.

From a smaller animal, carefully remove the skin of a suitable part of the femur, but in a cylindrical state, not cut. Though I suspect you'd get away with just a rectangular piece of hide. I don't think it is critical that you have a cylindrical unbroken piece of hide, so long as what you had was soft.

Now you can start.

You have selected the cylindrical bit of skin so that it is about the same diameter, maybe a bit more, as the hole left by the marrow, which you have scooped out. Put this skin inside the thighbone.

Fill the 'wineskin' with water, (as above, you could instead use one of the other larger orifices in the hide, which you then fold over and tie down) and screw in the stopper.

The skin inside, between the stopper and the bone, forms a gasket so that water doesn't escape down the thread. The inside of the bone is compressible to a certain extent, and will soon conform to the thread of your stopper.

You need the screw thread to be conical because it allows you to use the same ivory stopper in a number of different sized femurs, and in any case, the conical shape means you can get the stopper really tight. The further in you screw the stopper, the tighter it presses against the inside of the femur. As the inside of the femur compresses with time ( it will! ) you just screw the stopper a little bit tighter. You might notice that the stopper goes a little further in every month or so for a while until the inside of the femur, and the leather cylinder 'washer' is compressed as far as it is going to go.

The threaded parts of the stoppers are about 35 - 40 mm (1.5 inches) long, the handle on the right is 40 mm (1.5 inches) long, the one on the left is 50 mm (2 inches) long. They are only small, about 90 mm (3.5 inches) long all up.

Photo: Lwoff (1962) after Peyrony




bone water bottle stopper

Ivory stopper for a leather water bottle, from Fourneau du Diable.

This is the original of the stopper on the right above. If you compare the drawing and the photo, it would appear that Peyrony (it is his original drawing, but was redrawn by Lwoff (1962)) has 'gilded the lily' more than a little with regard to the perfection of the screw thread. The thread is not nearly so deep, nor as perfectly helical, as he would have us believe. That's not like Peyrony. I regard him as the most important figure, apart from Breuil, of early French archaeology. I'd love to get a better photo from several angles of the original stopper.

Photo: Delluc & Delluc (1982)




bone water bottle stopper

Ivory stopper for a leather water bottle, from Laugerie Haute Est

This version has a rounded helix.

Photo and origin: Bordes (1959), Bordes (1978)




water bag stopper brassempouy

This is an ivory waterbag stopper from Brassempouy.

(this appears to be a museum quality facsimile - Don )

Photo: http://paleobox.forumactif.com/t2049p40-sortie-paleobox-le-29-septembre-au-man
Source: Display at Musée d'Archéologie nationale, Saint-Germain-en-Laye




water bag stopper brassempouy water bag stopper brassempouy

This is the ivory waterbag stopper from Brassempouy.

(this appears to be the original - Don )

Photo: © Saint-Germain-en-Laye, musée des antiquités nationales, © Direction des musées de France, 2002
Source: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/




water bag stopper brassempouy water bag stopper brassempouy

Aurignacian, deeply carved. The upper part of the object is smooth and rounded. It is followed by a cylindrical band fully decorated with rows of serpentine patterns.

The centre of the object is a wide band forming a constriction. The lower tapering part is decorated several rows of transverse incisions.

Photo: © Saint-Germain-en-Laye, musée des antiquités nationales, © Direction des musées de France, 2002
Source: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/




water bag stopper brassempouy water bag stopper brassempouy

Length 91 mm, maximum diameter 25 mm

Photo: © Saint-Germain-en-Laye, musée des antiquités nationales, © Direction des musées de France, 2002
Source: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/




spiral cast jewellery







The concept of the helix, used in some of the water skin stoppers, was familiar to the stone age inhabitants through sea shells.

These non-pierced interior casts of fossil Turritella, L. max.: 2.60 cm Ø max. 1.05 cm, a total of 180 pieces, were found at Grottes de Goyet, Belgium, in Magdalenien layers, ca 12 000 BP.

They are believed to have been sewn onto a bib of leather to be hung on the chest.

Photo and text adapted from: Cattelain et al. (2012)






bison Canecaude (Aude) - Magdalénien moyen, 14 230 ± 160 Crochet de propulseur en forme de mammouth (longueur: 8.7 cm). Le proboscidien des temps glaciaires, rarement représenté sur ce type d'objet, se reconnaît aisément à sa silhouette générale -crâne en forme de tiare, dos voûté et plongeant-, à sa trompe, dont ne subsiste que la partie préhensile, à ses membres massifs et à ses larges pieds, à ses yeux globuleux cernés de grosses paupières et à la notation du pelage ; toutefois, les défenses, assimilées à de longues cornes surprennent par leur implantation aberrante, sans doute due à la configuration du bois de renne utilisé comme support. Il faut préciser que cette grotte du versant méridional de la Montagne Noire n'a pas livré de restes de mammouth et que le renne formait 90 % du stock des espèces chassées.

Canecaude (Aude) - middle Magdalenien, 14 230 ± 160 BP. Hook of atlatl (or spear thrower) in the shape of a mammoth mm. The mammoth is seldom represented on this type of object, but is recognised easily by its general silhouette - the domed head, arched and plunging back, with its tusk, of which not all remains, with its massive legs and its broad feet, its encircled globulous eyes. It should be mentioned that this cave of the southernmost slope of the Black Mountain did not have any remains of mammoths and that reindeer formed 90 % of the hunted species.


Mammoth propulseur



Another version of the propulseur above.

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




atlatl Sculpture de mammouth sur un fragment de propulseur en bois de renne du Magdalénien de Bruniquel (Tarn-et-Garonne). Photo H. Delporte.

Sculpture of a mammoth on part of a spear thrower, made out of reindeer antler, of Magdalenian age, from Bruniquel (Tarn-et-Garonne). Photo H. Delporte.

This appears to be the other side of a specimen in the British Museum described below, although the photo here does not show the hook inserted into the back as described for the British Museum specimen. It is worth having a look at the image on the British Museum site.

Text below adapted from

http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/compass/ixbin/goto?id=OBJ1369

From the rockshelter of Montastruc, Tarn-et-Garonne, France

Carved from a reindeer antler

Spear throwers came into use about 18 000 years ago in western Europe. They consist of a straight handle with a hook at one end. The bottom of the spear fits against the hook and the spear shaft and spear thrower handle are held together with the hook end by the shoulder. Launching the spear in this way sends it with more force and speed and across a longer distance than if it was simply thrown by hand.

The hook ends of spear throwers are frequently decorated with an animal. This example from Montastruc shows a mammoth. It is the only known example which has a hole for an eye (which probably held an insert of bone or stone). The hook is also unusual because it is an ancient repair. The original hook carved from the antler broke off and was mended by cutting a slot on the back and inserting a bone or antler replacement. The mammoth's tusks appear on each side of the handle, most of which was broken off in ancient times.

Length: 12.4 cm



elephant trap

An engraving of South African Hottentots trapping elephant. Other methods included driving into swampy ground, which may have been practised in East Africa a million years ago.

Photo: Man before history by John Waechter


The Problem of the 'Bridles'

All photos and text below concerning the bridles/bâtons come from the excellent book 'Secrets of the Ice Age' (1980) by Evan Hadingham.

batonbatonA bâton de commandement (left) from La Madeleine in the Dordogne region, and (right) an undecorated example from the Russian Ukraine, shown here roughly at the same scale. (Note the two holes of different sizes in the left hand example. Are these different sized holes for different sized spears, or are they different sizes for purposes of a bridle? Don)


Although the cave bears that prowled the pine forests of Érd near modern Budapest during the Mousterian period are not likely to have been tamed, there were other species that were far more amenable to human control. At the turn of the century an excavator of a prehistoric site (La Quina, in the Charente district of southwest France) noticed unusual traces of wear on the front incisor teeth of horses dug up from the Mousterian layers. These marks resembled those on modern teeth that result from the "tic" or nervous chewing habit of horses shut up in captivity, where boredom drives them to nibble incessantly at hard objects.

A few years later, in 1915, a lengthy study of some 16 000 modern horses was published, comparing the teeth of those kept tethered up with others roaming in relative freedom on the North American prairies. This study concluded that the nervous "tic" and its associated pattern of tooth wear is never present on animals free to wander at will. Could it be, then, that some Mousterian communities kept corrals of horses at certain times of the year, facilitating a control over animals normally undreamed of for this remote period or for many thousands of years afterward? It may be significant that the excavator of La Quina also found no less than seventy-six of the mysterious stone spheres in the Mousterian layers that, if they formed parts of bolas (as suggested earlier), could have been used to bring down and capture animals alive. In any case, the problem of the peculiar tooth wear brought to light sixty years ago deserves to be reexamined with modern techniques.

A more startling claim, first advanced in the 1870s and revived recently by a British scholar, Paul Bahn, is that we may be able to recognize actual animal bridles among Paleolithic bone objects. This may seem a very far-fetched idea indeed, considering that horses are conventionally thought to have been domesticated in Asia sometime after 3 000 B.c. The arguments concern a strange type of object known by the picturesque term "commanders' maces" (bâton de commandement), which nevertheless do not seem to have been items of military insignia. These objects take the form of pierced staves of reindeer horn or bone, with a hole smoothly worked all the way through the branching point of the antler, usually shaped to a T or Y outline. bâtons without any form of surface decoration are known as early as the Aurignacian period from sites in the Dordogne, and they continued to be manufactured in increasing numbers right into the final centuries of the Magdalenian. As in the case of so many other forms of decorated bone work, elaborate animal carvings do not appear regularly until the middle Magdalenian, When depictions of horses are the most common theme. During this period, prehistoric engravers concentrated more attention and accomplishment on the bâtons than on any other item of equipment apart from the spear-thrower, which suggests that by this time the curious rods had acquired a special significance. The Magdalenian carvers seem to have delighted in the difficulties of decorating the narrow, rounded surfaces with a fine tracery of complex and well-proportioned animal forms,, Today, we can only grasp the total design when it is "decoded" in a single flat plane with the help of a cast of the entire rolled-out surface.

The quality of this carving and the fragility of some of the actual bâtons themselves make it difficult to believe that certain examples could ever have played a practical function. The idea of a sacred, symbolic wand may not, then, be improbable. During the seventeenth century, sorcerers among the Lapp reindeer herders used an identical type of object to beat a magic drum while they were in the midst of prophetic trances. Nevertheless, the signs of wear on some bâtons, especially around the inner edge of the hole, have inspired many ingenious, practical theories. One idea compares the prehistoric bâtons with identical objects worn by some recent Eskimo hunters as a kind of necktie under the throat. A more likely suggestion, one that is widely accepted by archaeologists, is that the bâtons were used as an aid in correcting the natural curvature of antler and ivory shafts intended for use as arrows and spears. According to one reconstruction, the shaft material was first softened over heat and steam; then one end of the shaft was wedged in the hole and the rest bound tightly under tension against the long arm of the bâton until it became straight. However, the only researcher to study the traces of wear around the holes concluded that the marks resulted from the friction of a soft strap (so could they be handles for slings, this investigator asked?). Note: I wonder if these bâtons have been found in pairs? Or are they like the ubiquitous thongs (flip-flop rubber sandals patterned after Japanese foootwear) washed up on Australian beaches, and only ever found singly? Don

bridles Horse bridles of a traditional type from Sardinia with wooden parts superficially resembling the prehistoric bâtons.

Yet another theory-the one that chiefly concerns us here-is that the bâtons formed the solid cheek pieces of leather or fibre harnesses that were slipped over the heads of horses or reindeer. In practical terms, such a use is quite convincing, for exactly similar antler pieces were traditionally employed in Sardinia for controlling horses through pressure exerted on the muzzle. Similarly, the Samoyeds of Siberia exercised some sort of control over the domesticated reindeer that pulled their sledges by tugging at the reins joined to simple head collars through the holes in pierced antler staves. Despite the feasibility of the bridle theory, there is no obvious reason why we should prefer it to any of the other ingenious ideas advanced to account for the bâtons; indeed, to accept it would mean adopting the unconventional view that horses or reindeer were domesticated by Paleolithic hunters.


PietteSome fascinating and ambiguous evidence provides unexpected support for the bridle theory, however. Like most of the early antiquarians who had excavated in the Ice Age caves, Édouard Piette for many years regarded the horse and reindeer bones he recovered as simply representing the remains of wild animals brought down by traditional hunting methods. In 1889, however, he startled the prehistorians assembled at an international congress by delivering an address on "The Question of Reindeer Domestication," in which he maintained that the high achievements of the Paleolithic engravers and toolmakers must be the product of a stable, sedentary society, based on an economy of domesticated animals. What had changed his mind? Piette explained that he had found several carvings at Mas d'Azil where the horses have a noseband. The semi-domestication of these animals is thus well established. Nothing proves that man harnessed them, nor made them pull loads, nor gave milk, but why should they not have raised them in herds and have known how to lead them?'


horse headPiette's views, stated modestly enough at the conference, became increasingly fervent as the years passed and as more of the curious "cut-out" carved horse heads came to light. The climax came in 1893, when an engraved bone piece was discovered in the cave of St. Michel d'Arudy, situated, like Piette's famous site at Le Mas d'Azil, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. (Photo at left) This spirited carving shows a horse head oddly divided up into panels, with an abstract row of chevrons partly covering the lower cheek. This, for Piette, was incontrovertible evidence for the existence of head collars and the final proof of his domestication theory. His views, however, awoke bitter and at times unreasonable opposition among the leading prehistorians of the day. Even the youthful Abbé Breuil, who considered the problem at length, eventually changed his mind and decided against the reality of the bridles. He examined the entire range of engraved bone silhouettes and supported the idea that the curious lines and panels carved on the horse muzzles represented stylized impressions of their coat markings or muscular structure. Because the weight of contemporary archaeological opinion fell against his theories, Piette's views were largely ignored in the years following his death in 1906.


D'Arudy horse

Grotte de St Michel, D'Arudy.

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





horse head Reconsidering the problem of the bone horse heads today, it must be admitted that there is a considerable variety in these depictions, whatever their inspiration. Some bear no traces at all of the supposed bridles, while the clarity and detail with which the "cheek pieces" and "nose bands" appear on the other silhouettes vary considerably. One of the most delicate of the engravings was found lying on the surface of a cave floor near Arudy in 1975, only a few hundred meters from the site of the 1893 discovery. This new chance find has shaded lines and panels in exactly the same positions as on the St. Michel muzzle, although they are depicted much more faintly and certainly could pass as indications of the natural horse hair. Because of the peculiar, stiff style in which all the Pyrenean profiles are carved, a question mark will always hang over the exact significance of the patterns on their muzzles.

All the images on the right come from Le Mas d'Azil except Lortet at the top and the 1975 discovery at Espalungue, Arudy at the bottom.


horse head

Shown is a carved stone from La Marche, Vienne, Western France, showing a horse head with numerous lines engraved over it, including some that closely resemble the outline of a halter.




abri blanchard
Carving from La Madeleine in the Dordogne that probably served as the weighted end of a spear thrower. Note the peculiar bridle pattern on the muzzle. This is a good argument against similar patterns on horses being representations of halters.




All photos and text above come from the excellent book 'Secrets of the Ice Age' (1980) by Evan Hadingham.








We now digress a little, to show an intermediate stage in the development of the bridle from the Pazyrk people.

Pazyryk - Пазарык


Pazyryk
A Pazyryk horseman, circa 300 BC.

The Pazyryk (Russian: Пазарык) is the name of an ancient nomadic people who lived in the Altai Mountains lying in Siberian Russia south of the modern city of Novosibirsk, near the borders of China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. In this part of the Ukok Plateau, many ancient Bronze Age barrow-like tomb mounds of larch logs covered over by large cairns of boulders and stones have been found. These spectacular burials of the Pazyryk culture closely resemble those of the Scythian people to the west. The term kurgan, a word of Turkic origin, is generally used to describe such log-barrow burials. This archaeological site on the Ukok Plateau is included in the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Pazyryks were horse-riding pastoral nomads of the steppe and some may have accumulated great wealth through horse-trading with merchants in Persia, India and China.

Photo and text: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pazyryk




Text below from: http://www.everyculture.com/Russia-Eurasia-China/Altaians-Orientation.html

Altaian is the general name for a group of Turkic peoples living in the region of the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia in the Altai Republic.

The Altaians constitute a group of related mountain peoples living beside the streams of the Altai complex of mountain ranges. This complex consists of the chief water-divide ranges, the South Altai, the Inner Altai, and the East Altai; the Mongolian Altai is connected to this mountain complex, rising to the southeast of the Siberian Altai region. The Altai system is located in the central part of southern Siberia, with Mongolia to the east and Kazakhstan to the south; it lies between 48° and 54° N and between 83° and 90° E. The mountains are of moderate elevation, with several reaching 4,500 meters; those higher than 3,000 meters are snowcapped throughout the year. The Altaians live in the broad plateaus, steppes, and valleys of the ranges.

The climate is continental, with considerable temperature swings, but is modified by the effect of the mountains, which cause a winter temperature inversion. In effect, the Altai forms an island of higher temperatures in winter than those found in the Siberian taiga to the north or in the Central Asian and Mongolian steppes to the south and east. The mean January temperature of the Chuya steppe, in the southeast of the region, is -31° C; winter temperatures fall as low as -48° C. The mountains form a nodal point for the gathering of precipitation. The main rainfall occurs in July and August, with a secondary and smaller period of rain in the late autumn. The western Altai has a mean annual rainfall of over 50 centimeters; the east is drier, receiving about 40 centimetres per year, or even less, and forms a transition to the more arid Mongolian steppe, farther east.

The Altai is rich in lakes and streams. The chief lakes of the region are Marka Kul in the south and Teletsk in the central part of the Altai region. In nearby parts of Siberia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan there are much larger lakes: Zaysan Nur, Kara Usu, Ubsu Nur, and Kulunda. The Siberian rivers Ob, Irtysh, and Yenisei have headwaters in the Altai Mountains. The most important rivers within the Altai are the Biya, Katun, Bukhtarma, Kondoma, Ursul, Charysh, Kan, Sema, and Mayma.


Pazyryk Bridles


Pazyryk bridle

Рис. 32. Уздечка из кургана No. 5, Пазырык. 5—4 вв. до н. э.
Рис. 33. Уздечка из кургана No. 5, Пазырык. V—IV вв. до н. э.

Bridles from Mound No. 5, Pazyryk, 5th - 4th Century BC

Photo and text: СКИФЫ Тамара Т. Райс, Scythians by Tamara T. Rice
My thanks to Vladimir Gorodnjanski for access to this resource.


Pazyryk bridle
Рис. 34. Седельные ремни с ажурными узорами из кургана No. 1, Пазырык. V в. до н. э.
Рис. 35. Седло из кургана No. 1, Пазырык. V в. до н. э.

Fig. 34. Straps with openwork designs from mound No. 1, Pazyryk. 5th century BC.
Fig. 35. Saddle from mound No. 1, Pazyryk. 5th century BC.


Excavations and the resulting archaeological materials from the south of Russia shed appreciable light on the way that Scythians harnessed and decorated their horses. However the earlier archaeological materials from the South of Russia were not of good enough quality to show the complete technical details.

Here in Pazyryk were unearthed complete sets of harnesses, and the method used by Altaians to equip their saddle horses, as well as showing the fine details of their equipment.

Photo and text: СКИФЫ Тамара Т. Райс, Scythians by Tamara T. Rice
My thanks to Vladimir Gorodnjanski for access to this resource.




Comparison between the bits and the straps on the heads of horses from Pazyryk and similar areas in the European part of the steppe, shows that they were essentially similar.

Consequently it seems more than probable that although the more easily disintegrated parts of the harness were not recovered from Western deposits, still they were very similar to those in Pazyryk.

However, both in the east and the western plains, bits have consisted of parts reminiscent of the modern snaffle. A snaffle bit is the most common type of bit used while riding horses. It consists of a bit mouthpiece with a ring on either side and acts with direct pressure. In Pazyryk bridles consisted of thongs for the nose, cheeks, forehead and ears, and all of this was fastened with a buckle, located on the side of the head of the horse, similar to a halter.

Pazyryk bridle

Parts of a snaffle.
Photo: Wikipedia


Pazyryk bridle

Parts of a halter.
Photo: Wikipedia


The bridle was used in Assyria in the first half of the first millenium was also, probably, the same as were invented by the first equestrians.

In Pazyryk, a metal plate was located on the forehead of the horse, held by leather thongs. This plate, the thongs on the nose and cheeks, all crossings of thongs and even the thongs themselves were generously decorated with geometrical patterns and images of animals. They were punched into the thongs, or were appliqués of various materials.

All the thongs or straps were made of excellent leather, carefully dressed, richly decorated, and there were frequently golden plates, or parts covered with gold or lead foil.








small spoon in mammoth ivory   small spoon in mammoth ivory

Click on the image to see a close up

Small spoon in mammoth ivory from New Avdeevo

Photo: M. Gvozdover, 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters'


spatula   
spatula   

Click on the top image to see a close up

(above) Fragments of tops of spatulas with oval widening of the edges, New Avdeevo

(below) Spatula with top with oval widening of edges and widening under the head. Drawing of the lowest spatula in the photo above.

Photo: M. Gvozdover, 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters'


hatted tool   
Click on the image to see a close up

Implement with hatted type top, New Avdeevo

Photo: M. Gvozdover, 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters'


Subtriangular zoomorphic points   Subtriangular zoomorphic points   

Click on the images to see a close up

Subtriangular zoomorphic points, ivory. These particular examples have a 'loop' on the side. The two images on the right side of the image on the left are the front and back of a particularly fine specimen. Note the cross sections shown in the drawing.

Photo: M. Gvozdover, 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters'


kostenki spadehead
The decorated head of a spade from Kostenki 1.

Photo: Archaeology of the USSR - The Palaeolithic of the USSR.

My thanks to Vladimir Gorodnjanski for access to this resource.


bone and art objects table   

Click on the image to see a close up

Table of bone artifacts and art objects from Avdeevo and Kostenki


Photo: M. Gvozdover, 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters'


Flint tools of the Kostenki-Avdeevo culture

Site Avd1-I Avd1-I Avd2-1I Avd2-1I K-1 3 K-1 3
Category Quantity % Quantity % Quantity %
1. Backed scaled knives 744 27.4 505 10.3 603 16.5
2. Shouldered points 174 6.4 353 7.2 465 12.7
3. Leaf points 23 0.8 76 1.5 91 2.5
4. Backed blades 288 8.47 469 9.5 368 10
5. Scaled pieces 18 0.6 - - - -
6. Burins 622 22.9 879 17.9 969 26.4
7. Scrapers 54 1.9 56 1.3 230 6
8. Variant points 35 1.2 224 4.5 61 1.6
9. Truncated flakes and blades 22 0.8 58 1.2 96 2.6
10. Borers and drills 19 0.7 54 1.1 41 1.1
11. Denticulate and notched pieces 21 0.7 133 2.7 90 2.4
12. Sidescraper-like pieces 30 1.1 42 0.9 10 0.3
13. Pieces and flakes with retouch 550 20.7 1546 31.4 540 14.7
14. (Combined) pieces 1575.7 363 7.4 100 3
15. Variant tools 23 0.8 164 3.3 - -
16. TOTAL 2720 100 4922 100 3664 100


Note: 1. 1946-1949 collection; 2. 1979-86 collection, the excavations are still in progress; 3. V.I. Belyaeva's data, 1979; 4. The data are not cited.
Data: M. Gvozdover, 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters'


needlecases

Decorated needlecases 1- 5 from New Avdeevo, 6 from Old Avdeevo

Photo: 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters: The Finds from Avdeevo' by Mariana Gvozdover

needlecases

Decorated needlecases (drawn) 1- 5 from New Avdeevo, 6 from Old Avdeevo

Photo: 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters: The Finds from Avdeevo' by Mariana Gvozdover

decorated adze handles

Decorated adze handles 1 - 4, 6 from New Avdeevo, 5 from Old Avdeevo

Photo: 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters: The Finds from Avdeevo' by Mariana Gvozdover

decorated adze handles

Decorated adze handles (drawn) 1 - 4, 6 from New Avdeevo, 5 from Old Avdeevo

Photo: 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters: The Finds from Avdeevo' by Mariana Gvozdover

decoration elements

Decoration elements from the Kostenki culture which also includes Avdeevo.

1. slanting cross and its variants;
2. short transverse line or stroke;
3. variants of wedge-shaped notching;
3d. with staggered interval, zigzag in background;
4. zigzag;
5. herringbone;
6. slanting checkwork.

Photo: 'Art of the Mammoth Hunters: The Finds from Avdeevo' by Mariana Gvozdover

The oldest known firestone. This crystal of iron pyrite was found in a Belgian cave, and has been dated at 10 000 years ago. The deep groove is from being repeatedly struck by a piece of flint to produce sparks to light a fire in tinder. No other easily obtainable combination will produce sparks hot enough to start a fire - two flints struck together will not produce a usable spark, for instance.
Photo: T. Prideaux, 'Cro-Magnon Man'

Firestone


neanderthals at moustier

Very characteristic fossil of the late Magdalenian culture is the barbed harpoon head, with both single and double rows of barbs. These are from Le Souci, Dordogne.

Photo: G. Clark, 'The Stone Age Hunters'








neanderthals at moustier

Le fossile le plus caractéristique de la culture Magdalénienne tardive est le harpon à barbelure, avec une ou plusieurs rangées de 'dents'. Ceux-ci ont été trouvés au Souci, Dordogne.

Photo: G. Clark, 'The Stone Age Hunters'






References

  1. Bordes F., 1959: Bordeaux, Gallia préhistoire, Tome 2, 1959. pp. 156-167.
  2. Bordes F., 1978: Le Protomagdalénien de Laugerie-Haute-Est (fouilles F. Bordes), Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, tome 75, N. 11-12. pp. 501-521.
  3. Cattelain P., Bozet N., Di Stazio G., 2012: La parure de Cro-Magnon à Clovis , Éditions du Cedarc - 2012
  4. Fernandez H., Monchot H., 2006: Sexual Dimorphism in Limb Bones of Ibex (Capra ibex L.): Mixture Analysis Applied to Modern and Fossil Data, Int. J. Osteoarchaeol 17: 479–491 (2007).
  5. Gabunia L., et. al., 2000: Current Research on the Hominid Site of Dmanisi, Eraul 92, 2000, p. 13 to 27.
  6. Lwoff S., 1962: Les Fadets, Commune de Lussac-les-Châteaux (Vienne), Bulletin de la Société préhistorique de France 1962, tome 59, N. 5-6. pp. 407-426.
  7. Sklenar K., 1988: Hunters of the Stone Age, illustrated by Pavel Dvorsky and Eliska Sklenarova, Heinemann Publishers Australia, 1988





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