A Unique Engraved Shale Pendant from the Site of Star Carr: the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain Open Data

Nicky Milner1, Michael Bamforth1, Gareth Beale1, Julian C. Carty1, Konstantinos Chatzipanagis2, Shannon Croft1, Chantal Conneller3, Ben Elliott1, Laura C. Fitton4, Becky Knight1, Roland Kröger2, Aimée Little1, Andy Needham1, Harry K. Robson1, Charlotte C.A. Rowley1, Barry Taylor5

1. Department of Archaeology, The King's Manor, University of York, YO1 7EP, UK
2. Department of Physics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
3. Archaeology (SALC), University of Manchester, Mansfield Cooper Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
4. Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences, Hull York Medical School, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK
5. Department of History and Archaeology, University of Chester, Chester, CH1 4BJ, UK
Corresponding author: nicky.milner@york.ac.uk

Cite this as: Milner, N. et al. (2016). A Unique Engraved Shale Pendant from the Site of Star Carr: the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain, Internet Archaeology 40. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.40.8


Photograph of the pendant showing the faint engravings

In 2015 an engraved shale pendant was found during excavations at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr, UK. Engraved motifs on Mesolithic pendants are extremely rare, with the exception of amber pendants from southern Scandinavia. The artwork on the pendant is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain; the 'barbed line' motif is comparable to styles on the Continent, particularly in Denmark. When it was first uncovered the lines were barely visible but using a range of digital imaging techniques it has been possible to examine them in detail and determine the style of engraving as well as the order in which the lines might have been made. In addition, microwear and residue analyses were applied to examine whether the pendant showed signs that it had been strung or worn, and whether the lines had been made more visible through the application of pigments, as has been suggested for some Danish amber pendants. This approach of using multiple scientific and analytical techniques has not been used previously and provides a methodology for the examination of similar artefacts in the future.

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