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Analysing the headdresses

How are the headdresses analysed further? In this article, Dr Ben Elliott explains.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Once the headdresses are removed from the ground, Dr Ben Elliott examines the artefacts in detail. In this video he is examining the third headdress we found (in the end we found a total of 12 which takes the total headdress count at Star Carr to 33). This one is not in great shape and so he has to clean it very carefully before examining it.

Ben examined all our headdresses in great detail in order to understand how these artefacts were made. What was particularly interesting about Ben’s analysis was that three of our specimens do not feature antler, although the skulls have been treated in the same way as the other frontlets. Two of them are the remains of male red deer which had recently shed their antlers – only the stubs remain. The other is the skull of a female red deer (females do not grow antlers at all) but again this specimen has been processed in the same way as the others.

When talking about the antler headdresses in the past we have tended to fixate on the antlers and how big they were, but perhaps the actual antlers were not so important to Mesolithic people. Perhaps the different sexes of the deer or the fact that some had just shed their antlers were important to the people who were making them. It is also important to note that five roe deer skulls show similar patterns of fragmentation and removal of certain parts of the skull. Were these also used in similar ways?

Further resources

If you would like to learn more about Ben’s analysis of the headdresses, please read Chapter 26

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Exploring Stone Age Archaeology: The Mysteries of Star Carr

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