Monday, December 12, 2011

Artifact Reproductions at Pech Merle, France

Flint blade in wood handle, with pitch glue. (Neolithic)
The cave at Pech Merle is one of the most spectacular cave art sites in southern France.  Of the handful of caves that we visited this fall, it was my favourite.  It was kind of overwhelming.  The setting of the cave (above ground and below), the paintings, the history, the interpretation, the region, were all unbelievably rich.  I've been putting off writing about it because there's too much that I want to say.  Maybe if I break it down into some more focused topics, it'll seem less daunting.

Burin in bone handle (Palaeolithic)
So, with that in mind, here are a few photos of the artifact reproductions in the museum at Pech Merle. I'm afraid that I don't know who the craftsperson(s) is that made these reproductions, but I certainly envy them.  Some of them may have been made from scratch, but I think many of them are actual lithic artifacts hafted into modern organic handles.  If you made these - Well Done! - and I'd love to hear from you and give you credit for your work.

Flint scraper in bone handle (Palaeolithic)

Ground and polished Neolithic axes with antler sockets.  I don't think these are reproductions, but they are refit so they aren't out of place here.   The antler sockets would have fit into a heavy wooden handle.

A spindle whorl (Neolithic).  If you've ever visited L'Anse aux Meadows, then you may have seen the Norse interpreters using a drop spindle to spin wool into yarn. They haven't changed much in a few thousand years.

Neolithic sickle made from flint blades fit into a slot in a curved branch.  Simple and sharp.
The Neolithic Cabinet, Pech Merle. Artifacts and Reproductions mixed in to help flesh out the incomplete pieces.

Another hafted scraper (Palaeolithic).  I'm not certain, but I think some of these reproductions might be original stone artifacts mounted in modern handles.  The good thing about using natural glues is that they are generally pretty easy to reverse, so there's no danger in permanently defacing the stone tools.

Mousterian spear (Palaeolithic).  One of the simplest and earliest types of composite spears.  Its held in place with some sort of resin glue in a split wood shaft.  There are no notches or stem on the point, the binding is there to clamp the split wood closed and prevent further splitting.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. i really dig the sickle---John from Massachusetts

  2. Yeah, I like the sickle too. Its interesting - in broad strokes, the advent of agriculture marked the beginning of the end of our reliance on stone tools. But at the same time, many tools used in harvesting grain continued to use knapped flint blades long after they'd been replaced by metal in all other areas of everyday life.

  3. ! Flint scraper in bone handle (Palaeolithic)!

    I found one in Denmark this year. Remarkably the same size. Thx 4 sharing info on this.


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