Although, as noted above, parallels in the formal typology of portable artefacts or designs engraved upon them may relate solely to the circulation of such items, they indicate at the very least the currency of design norms across Magdalenian space. In a general sense, then, similarities will at least indicate areas over which elements of cultural repertoires are moving. The Final Magdalenian archaeological level at Pin Hole cave yielded four fragments of a mammoth ivory sagaie bearing two areas of engraving in the form of an outlined 'fish' and of a design reminiscent of coiled rope (Fig. 8.1). Armstrong (1925) noted the similarity between the design on the Pin Hole ivory sagaie and that on a bone example from the Late Magdalenian of La Madeleine. Further parallels can be found on Late Magdalenian sagaies at Laugerie Basse (Breuil 1937), and from the Late Magdalenian of the Trou de Chaleux, Belgium (Otte et al. 1994: pl. 32,6). All of these parallels are illustrated in Figure 8.1. Conceivably a very similar design is engraved on a sagaie fragment from Tito Bustillo in Asturias (Moure Romanillo 1989: fig. 5.16).

Two further examples of art mobilier from Creswell Crags serve to emphasize continental comparisons: the humanoid outline engraved on a rib of woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) from Pin Hole, and a horse head engraved on a broken rib fragment from Robin Hood Cave. The discoverer of the engraved humanoid, A. Leslie Armstrong, was aware of the significance of the find:

Unquestionably the most important find so far made at Creswell is that of an engraved bone, 8/2 inches long, believed to be a piece of... rib, bearing at one end the drawing of a masked human figure in the act of dancing a ceremonial dance. This is a unique find and of the greatest importance to British archaeology, as it establishes a definite cultural link with the cave art of France and Spain____The figure is anthropomorphic, half animal, half human... it is executed with a fine incised line, in profile, representing the right hand side, but the feet are not shown. The right leg is slightly bent, the left raised and bent at the knee, the genitalia being accentuated. The right arm is extended, and a club, or bow, is held in the hand. A line across the body at the waist may represent a belt, the bottom edge of a mask, or possibly it is part of the object held

Fig. 8.1. Late Magdalenian sagaies

1. Sagaie on mammoth ivory from Hole Cave, Creswell, bearing engraved designs. Drawing courtesy of Roger Jacobi.

2. Sagaie on antler from Laugerie-Basse (Dorgdogne) after Breuil (1937).

3. Sagie on antler form La Madeleine (Dorgdogne) after Armstrong (1925).

4. Sagie on bone form Trou du Chaleux (Belgium) after Otte et al. (1994). Not to scale in the hand. The head is covered with an animal mask giving an ape-like appearance to the figure. In general character this example compares closely with the engravings on stone and bone found in the caves of Altamira and Hornos-de-la-Pena, Spain, and Chancelade, Dordogne. (Armstrong 1928)

Today, the humanoid engraving is marked out in graphite, undoubtably where someone (possibly Armstrong himself) has sought to emphasize the engraved lines, and there is some question as to how much that one sees today is real, that is, part of the original design, and how much is fanciful interpretation. Jill Cook recently commissioned the removal of the graphite at the conservation department of the British Museum, and on the basis of this and her ongoing analysis of the piece, believes at present that the general outline of the 'humanoid' is genuine, but that the phallus was probably a modern interpretation and thus addition (Cook 2005). If this is so, the general human shape of the piece remains, but the sex is now ambiguous. Indeed, given its peculiar shape, one cannot rule out an attribution to either sex. The clearly 'muzzled' nature of the head lead Armstrong to believe that the head was covered 'with an animal mask giving an ape-like appearance to the figure', although there is no a priori reason why it need not represent a fusion between man and animal, an imaginary human-like being, or even a standing/ rearing bear (why not?). However one interprets the piece, it has numerous parallels with engraved and painted 'humanoid' outlines from France, Spain, and elsewhere (Sieveking 1987, 1992; Lorblanchet 1989, 1995; Powers 1994). Whether or not these really depict masked or muzzled humans, imaginary human-like beings, or standing bears, the similarity across western Europe is clear and once more attests to a strong degree of cultural uniformity, at least in the artistic realm.

Sieveking (1992) has also identified parallels between the horse's head on bone from Robin Hood Cave, Creswell (Garrod 1926: fig. 31,5), notably with examples from Paris Basin Magdalenian sites. Wider comparisons are also clear. In terms of the morphology of its angular jaw, lips, and snout, the bristling, forward-facing erect manes, and the 'hidden-ness' of the ear, it is clearly similar to contemporary Magdalenian depictions of horses on engraved plaquettes in France: for example, at the Rocher de la Caille (Saut-du-Perron) in the Loire (Tosello 2003a: figs. 1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 13, 28), Laugerie Basse, Limeul, La Madeleine, and Villepin in the Perigord (Tosello 2003b: figs. 33, 38, 180, 245, 253, 378); in Germany and Switzerland, for example, at Andernach, Gonnersdorf, Petersfels, Kesslerloch, and Schweizersbild (Bosinski 1982: pls. 9, 15, 21, 26; 1994: fig. 8; Bosinski 1994: figs. 6-8) and at Hostim in Bohemia (Vencl 1995: figs. 95, 96). Further parallels may be seen in both an engraved plaquette and parietal art of Tito Bustillo, Spain (Moure Romanillo 1989). The design may have originated in the preceding Magdalénien a Navettes, given that it can be seen on sagaies from such contexts in the Grotte Grappin a Arlay and the Grotte Blanchard, La Garenne, France (Allain et al. 1985), and plausibly forms one of the cultural motifs of the Magdalenian groups that recolonized the Northern European Plain.

Clearly, the designs engraved onto the Pin Hole sagaie and the ribs from Pin Hole and Robin Hood Cave had a wide currency across Magdalenian space. As such, they form a point ofdeparture for considering the parietal art of Church Hole. Clear continental parallels can be found for the more identifiably figurative art in Church Hole. Aurochs engraved on Late Magdalenian stone plaquettes from the Trou de Chaleux (Lejeune 1984: fig. 103) and at the parietal art site of Teyjat, France (Wiist 1999) are similar to the Church Hole Panel III bovid. Here, though, I concentrate on more enigmatic and conceivably non-figurative elements of the Creswell art, namely 'vulvae' and Panels VII and X which conceivably depict stylized human females.

0 0

Post a comment