Bonetool of the Month Archives

February 2014

 bta 2014 02 jerusalem1  bta 2014 02 jerusalem2
bta 2014 02 jerusalem3 bta 2014 02 jerusalem4
Photos: Ariel Shatil.

The images above show cattle metapodials found in dumps of the 3rd-2nd centuries BC in Jerusalem. They seem to be the refuse from the first stages of manufacture of bone objects. There are two interesting phenomena here:
First, it seems the artists shaved the complete bone before removing the epiphyses. Maybe it was done in order to reduce the volume of the bone before carving. We hardly have any items from more advanced stages of manufacture or complete items associated with these finds, so we have no clear idea as to why this volume reduction was needed.
Second, the sawed off epiphyses show evidence for rotation of the bone while sawing. The saw marks reveal that the saws used were rather rough and thick. Again we don't know if the reason for turning was technological or other. It is possible that the saws were not strong enough and the artists had to make sure they will not break if cutting too deep into the bone cortex. Another suggestion is that after the bone volume was reduced, the bone was more fragile and had to be turned in order to keep it from breaking or splitting. Any idea or suggestion on these topics will be welcomed.

Ariel Shatil

January 2014

 bta 2014 01 rinkelbel
Photo: Jörg Ansorge

The objects above are parts of toys for small children, a combination of a flute and a rattle called "Rasselflöte" in German or "rinkelbel" in Dutch. They have been excavated by Dr. Jörg Ansorge (Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Abteilung Archäologie) in Stralsund, Germany. The finds from the feature are from the middle of the 18th century.

Ansorge, Jörg (2011): Kurze Fundberichte Mittelalter/Neuzeit. Hansestadt Stralsund, Fpl. 303. – Jahrbuch Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 58, 436-444  [Abb. 224.1-3].
Ansorge, Jörg (2011): Bericht zur archäologischen Untersuchung Hansestadt Stralsund Parkhaus Fährwall, Fpl. 303, Schwerin [page 29-31, Abb. 22.8-12]
Ansorge, Jörg (2013): Archäologische Untersuchungen auf der ehemaligen Fährbastion in Stralsund. – Jahrbuch Bodendenkmalpflege in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 60

December 2013

bta 2013 12 whalebone chair
Photo: Hans Christian Küchelmann

This sidechair in Chippendale style (18th century) was manufactured by whalers out of sperm whale panbone, the articlar end of the mandible. It is exhibited in the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Massachusetts, USA (inv. no. 2001.100.52).
It weighs 10,4 kg and its size is 103 x 40 x 34,3 cm.

Frank, Stuart M. (2012): Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved. Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum, 264, Fig. 11.93, New Bedford

November 2013

 bta 2013 11 snuff-container
Photo: Richard Meadow
Cattle horn snuff containers from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century probably of Austrian or German origin. The diameter of the lid is ca. 4 cm.

October 2013

bta 2013 10 viisuludaEstonia
Photo: Eesti Rahva Muuseum, inv.-no. ERM 17622

Bone tools, called ‚viisuluda’ in Estonian, were used for entwining bark and bast objects (e.g. shoes, bags) in Estonia. These tools were made from split long bones of large ungulates. Such tools have a tapering tip which was used for widening the gap between two parallel bark strips for sticking a crossing strip through it. Ethnographic assemblages in Estonia contain several such bone tools. The tool on the photo is from the collections of Estonian National Musem and is dated to 1885.

Heidi Luik