Ivory figure beads

British Museum

British Museum

Among a number of beads that were made by perforating animal teeth and shells, as well as bone pendants, there are two mammoth ivory beads in the collection from Courbet. The shape of these beads are similar to that of the engraved side view of the woman on the broken lamp from the site. The perforation through which the bead would have been threaded, or perhaps sewn on as a button, is placed at the widest point at the level of the shapely bottom. The figure tapers towards the head and knees. Small female figure beads and pendants occur in the late Stone Age in France and Germany on the same sites as the engraved drawings of women. They are often made of distinct, less common materials such as ivory and jet and may have had special significance for the women and/or men who wore them.

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  • Title: Ivory figure beads
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 18.20mm; Width: 7.70mm; Thickness: 3.60mm; Weight: 0.50g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: Palart.520
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Courbet Cave
  • Period/culture: Upper Palaeolithic
  • Material: mammoth ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Lastic Saint-Jal, Louis Marie de