The Neschers antler showing the engraved head and front legs of a horse. Image credit NHM
Past Horizons reports on the 24 March the rediscovery of a 14,000 year-old engraved reindeer antler that had lain all-but-forgotten since 1882 in London’s Natural History Museum –
The engraving consists of a partial horse figure, produced some time in the Palaeolithic, towards the end of the last ice age around 14,000 years ago. In the 1800s very little was known about the early history of humans, so the significance of discoveries like the Neschers antler went largely unrecognised at the time and it was some decades before cave art was to be accepted.
The antler was put on display and mentioned in a Museum gallery guide, but its scientific importance was not recognised. It was eventually returned to the storerooms until 1989 when it was rediscovered by mammal curator Andy Currant and placed in secure storage. Despite this, it again remained unstudied and forgotten until an audit of possible worked bone and antler in the fossil collections began in 2010-2011. This was when its true scientific importance became apparent and finally, over 160 years after its discovery, a full description is now being published.
Museum human origins expert Prof. Chris Stringer, part of the research team says, “the remarkable story of this forgotten specimen shows how careful study and detective work can belatedly give an important relic the significance it deserves.”
Full article here . See also our earlier feature on the Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind at the British Museum.