Bone Implements from Roc de Sers

The site of Roc de Sers is a collapsed rock shelter located about 20 km south-east of Angouleme. Research was conducted by L. Henri-Martin from 1909 to 1929 and completed in 1951 by G. Henri-Martin and R. Lantier. The site is famous for its upper Solutrean sculptures. The bone implements, shown here, would traditionally be called a needle and a projectile point. They come from an upper Solutrean layer, dated to ca. 19 k.a. BP.

Perforated bone, ivory or antler and stone, shaped into projectiles, awls, and needles are common during the Upper Paleolithic in Europe.

An object can unambiguously be called a needle, when it is eyed. It is self-evident, that the invention of an eyed needle must have been a significant step towards the improved production of tailored clothing. It is suggested that such an innovation would have been spread rapidly over social networks and would have been adopted quickly. Other non-eyed implements and some “projectile points“may have been also used for sewing, but this can hardly be proven. A general reassessment of the function of needles or needle like objects seems to be necessary, the last monograph about eyd needles is from 1979 and focused on France.

Needles have been traditionally associated with the sewing of garments of leather and hide for the production of tailored clothing but many of them are too small for this and likely reflect working with woven textiles and/or accessory stitching or embroidering rather than conjoining of animal hides. Similarly, many Gravettian-age and later inventories contain implements previously identified as hunting weaponry or decorative or “art” objects which may have been associated with textile production—for example, the bone “spear head” from Predmostı, which may be a netspacer, the sitting anthropomorphs made of mammoth phalanges from Predmostı, and their equivalents from Avdeevo in Russia, which perhaps served as loom weights” (Soffer 2000)

The oldest eyed needles have been found at Mezmaiskaya in the EUP (“Ahmarian like”) layers 1A and 1B, at least 33-36 k.a old. There are also reports about needles during the EUP of the Kostenki-Borshchevo area dating into the time interval of 40-30 k.a. BP.

Eyed needles seem to become more common during the Gravettian, Solutrean and Epigravettian periods (For example during the upper Solutrean at Badegoule and Laugerie Haute, the Pavlovian at the Krems Wachtberg site [27 k.a. BP], the Epigravettian at Grubgraben/Kammern [18 k.a. BP], the Epigravettian at Kastritsa  [between 24 and 15 k.a. BP]). During the European Magdalenian, eyed needles are found in large quantities both in France and Middle Europe.

Suggested book about Roc de Sers:

Sophie Tymula: L’art solutréen de Roc-de-Sers (Charente)

Suggested web-page about Roc de Sers:

http://www.culture.gouv.fr/poitou-charentes/pages/section6/artprehisto/solutreen/solutreen.htm

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