What are these barbs for? Preliminary reflections on the function of the Upper Magdalenian barbed weapon tips / Des barbelures pour quoi faire ? Réflexions préliminaires sur la fonction des pointes barbelées du Magdalénien supérieur

Abstract : Leaning on previous works by M. Julien (1982) and G.C. Weniger (1995), this paper presents some preliminary reflections on the possible functions of the osseous barbed points from the Upper Magdalenian (ca. 13,500-12,000 calBC). Starting from the statement that their appearance and development coincide with an increased interest in small animal hunting (fish, birds, lagomorphs), we attempted to correlate the relative abundance of barbed points with the representation of small game, but the data from our test area (the northern Pyrénées) did not provide conclusive results. A parallel survey of the barbed points of American northern hunter-gatherers known by ethnography shows a clear functional trend: « simple » barbed points are mostly used for fowling, for hunting big and small land game, and for war; while « true » harpoons are mostly used for fishing, for hunting sea mammals and aquatic mammals. However, once a rigorous operational definition of harpoons has been elaborated, it appears that the morphology of the Magdalenian barbed points does not allow their positive classification as harpoon heads. Thus, their function remains largely undetermined. Finally, several possible directions for future research on this topic are considered.
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Jean-Marc Pétillon. What are these barbs for? Preliminary reflections on the function of the Upper Magdalenian barbed weapon tips / Des barbelures pour quoi faire ? Réflexions préliminaires sur la fonction des pointes barbelées du Magdalénien supérieur. P@lethnologie, Presses universitaires du Midi, 2008, 1, pp.66-97 / 69-102. ⟨halshs-00403708⟩

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