Bone incised with reindeer in autumn migration

Bone incised with reindeer in autumn migration
Artist Nationality/Culture: 
Artist Life Dates: 
Object Date: 
1-1/2 x 4-1/4 x 3/4 inches
Geography B (Ancient)
Excavation Site: 
Geography A (Modern)
Modern Country: 
More Details
Available Provenance: 
J.J. Klejman; purchased 1966 by John and Dominique de Menil; deeded in 1998 to The Menil Foundation, Inc.
Object Paragraph
Object Paragraph: 
The incised bone (possibly antler) depicts two reindeer from the side view. Carved in bas-relief, the stylistic treatment of the two animals is characterized by sloping, curvilinear incisions. The delineated musculature of the animal in the foreground produces the impression of slow, deliberate movement towards the edge of the frame. The directionality of its body contrasts with the animal’s gaze, further emphasizing the dynamism of the figure. A second animal, placed in the background, stands higher in the frame, which adds depth of space and overlapping perspective. Its neck and head are tilted forward in a limp, almost droopy stance that contrasts with the strong posture of the animal in the foreground. The naturalistic style of the sculpture suggests that it dates to the Magdalenian Period (15,000–9000 BCE). A Magdalenian context has been proposed because the renderings resemble a known species of reindeer from the Upper Paleolithic. The Magdalenian Period is characterized by the prolific occurrence of reindeer depictions in the material culture record, so much so that experts initially dubbed the epoch “the age of the reindeer.” The date of the piece has also been assessed by studying its fabric. The utilization of bone rather than ivory for sculpture occurs later in the Paleolithic as a result of more refined lithic technology and, possibly, changes in faunal resources.
Object Number (Accession Number): 
X 614