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Cave Culture of Palæolithic Age

Nature volume 143, pages 672673 (22 April 1939) | Download Citation



A COLLECTION of objects of the smaller kind, mostly belonging to the class known to the French archæologist as art mobilier, which illustrates the culture of the cave-dwellers of the Upper Palæolithic Age, has been put on view for a short period in the prehistoric saloon of the British Museum (Blooms-bury). These objects, which are drawn from the collections in the Museum, are derived from the caves of the departments of the Dordogne and Tarn-et-Garonne of southern France. The phases of culture they specially illustrate are the Aurignacian and the Magdalenian. Among the specimens shown are the well-known design of two reindeer following one another on mammoth ivory, and a number of those heads of horses which are excellent examples of the skill of the palaeolithic artist in seizing the salient features of animal life. This characteristic is especially to be noted in the eight specimens shown of the finely engraved animal figures on pebbles. The familiar but much prized and rare female statuettes in ivory of Aurignacian age, falling into the two classes of gross and slender, are not represented in the original, but by casts. An exhibit previously unrecorded is a tally rod of bone of the Aurignacian period. Examples are shown of the various types of harpoons, many of which are of extreme delicacy, and of the bone perforated needles, these being accompanied by the flint implements with which they were made. Among the exhibits of characteristic, or outstanding examples of flint implements from the caves, is a remarkable example of delicate workmanship in the form of a leaf-shaped Solutrean point, measuring about nine inches long.

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