Exhibition Objects

Welcome to Exploring Objects. Here you can explore the rich collection of objects that have been unearthed from the Creswell Heritage Area. To find an object, type in the words that best describe what you are looking for and click ‘Search’

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Engraving of a man  © 2000 The British Museum

Engraving of a man

Art object made on rib bone of woolly rhinoceros from Pin Hole. Upper Palaeolithic, age uncertain.

On the end of this woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) rib is what appears to be the engraving of a male human figure. It is of unknown date and the use of size to conserve the object prevents us from obtaining a direct radiocarbon date. The bone was excavated by A.L. Armstrong from Pin Hole, on 7th April 1928 and discovered in the Inner Chamber over 20 metres (65') from the entrance and just over 1 metre (3'-6") below the surface of the deposits.

The human figure, who is facing right, stands 5cms tall. Features include a penis, a line drawn at the waist which may be a belt, a thin arm, and the upper portion of two legs. The face is distorted, a feature which has been interpreted as an animal mask. The figure has also been described as performing a ceremonial dance. The art style is similar to other engravings found at La Madeleine in the Dordogne, France which are dated from about 14,000 years ago. This poses two interesting problems. Firstly there is no evidence for people in Britain at this time and, secondly the most recent date for woolly rhinoceros in Britain is just over 22,000 years ago.

Glossary: Radiocarbon