Basal part of a Pointe d’Isturitz found in the 1930ies near Les Eyzies and sold during the early years of Vichy-France to a German soldier. Complete artifacts of this type are very rare. The point Pointe d’Isturitz is known from the Pyrenees (Isturitz, Gargas, Téoulé) and the greater Aquitaine (La Roque Saint-Christophe, Abri du Facteur, le petit Puyrousseau, Roc de Combe, Abri Pataud, Abri Labattut, Roc de Gavaudin).
Without presenting a detailed history of research of the Pointe d’Isturitz, it nonetheless seems essential to remember some important points about its discovery and identification as a typological and cultural marker.
The Pointe d’Isturitz was first described in 1878 by Loving, from findings at the Petit Puyrousseau site in the Dordogne. In 1949 and 1952, R. Saint-Perier, presented a first detailed study about this artifact based primarily on the rich data set of Isturitz. Between 1959 and 1960, the excavations H.-L. Movius at Pataud (near Les Eyzies) allowed the discovery of about twenty new pieces, associated with very rich material of the “Noaillien” (Movius, 1973). In 1966, N.-C. David described the Pointe d’Isturitz as the „fossil directeur” of the Gravettian with Noailles burins, followed some years later by
D. de Sonneville-Bordes (1971).
The Pointe d’Isturitz is an antler, bone or ivory artifact, which at one end is blunted and pointed at the other end. The pointed end is incised, usually slightly, with thin streaks grouped parallel to each other arranged transversely to the axis of the piece. Although early researchers suggested that the Pointes d’Isturitz could be interpreted as spear points, detailed analyses from central Pyrenean sites (Isturitz, Gargas), performed during the last years, favor a multifunctional interpretation. A new designation as “pieces with Isturitz-type modifications” has been proposed. Anyhow this type of artifact remains enigmatic.