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Bevel-based spear tips

British Museum

British Museum

Throughout the late Old Stone Age or Upper Palaeolithic (about 40,000-10,000 years ago) people hunted with spears. The tips of these spears varied through time: sometimes they were made of antler, bone or mammoth ivory, while in other periods stone tips were preferred.By 12,500 years ago the hunters using the cave of Courbet were, like people elsewhere at this time, using antler tipped spears together with equipment such as harpoons and fish hooks. The plain antler points are smooth with a round or oval cross-section and a fine sharp tip. Their bases are simply thinned or bevelled to fit into the slot at the top of a wooden shaft. They would probably have been fixed with cord and possibly some glue made from the sticky sap from pine or birch trees.The deadly efficiency of these weapons would have been improved with the use of a spearthrower, a common and often decorated piece of equipment in the Magdalenian.

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  • Title: Bevel-based spear tips
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: 1864,1226.58
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Courbet Cave
  • Period/culture: Late Magdalenian
  • Material: antler
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Lastic Saint-Jal, Louis Marie de
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