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This bone harpoon point was used by hunters 14,000 years ago

a photo of a harpoon point

The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

The 14,000 year old harpoon point made by modern human hands

This harpoon point, found at the famous Kent’s Cavern in Devon, was used to hunt around 14,000 years ago.

Few tool kits were as prehistorically sophisticated as the ones carried by the modern humans who arrived in Europe around 43,000 years ago. With a more varied box of tricks than the Neanderthals, they succeeded in becoming the dominant species.

Innovation took place quickly: our ancestors began using different materials, finding them from further afield – partly down to the expanded social networks and improved mobility they enjoyed.

This expertly carved harpoon point was one of over 1,600 items found at Kent’s Cavern, most of which are now held in the cave archaeology collection of Torquay Museum. Other artefacts include fine bone needles, a mammoth ivory rod and over 500 stone tools.

The extraordinary cave archaeology at Kent’s Cavern shows how habitation or use of the cave took place in every major period of time, from the lower Palaeolithic to the late Medieval, which makes it unique in the British Isles.

Torquay Museum’s collection of lower Palaeolithic tools from the cavern are amongst the oldest in Britain, and probably date to around 600,000 years old.


Torquay Museum

Torquay, Devon

Travel back through 400 million years of time at Torquay Museum – a hands-on family-friendly visitor attraction, with lots to see and do for children and adults alike. A wide variety of exhibitions are hosted throughout the year by the Museum, from child-friendly summer blockbusters to fascinating exhibitions about South…






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