Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 3-1 (November 2011)Wietske Prummel; Hülya Halici; Annemieke Verbaas: The bone and antler tools from the Wijnaldum-Tjitsma terp 1

7 Local bone and antler working or imports?

An important question in the discussion on bone and antler tools is whether they were made at the site or acquired from elsewhere. The presence or absence of production waste and unfinished objects may answer this question. Waste and/or unfinished bone and antler objects are represented in the Roman, Migration, Merovingian and Carolingian periods, but not in the Ottonian period (tables 1 and 4).

Antler working during the Roman period is demonstrated by an unfinished amulet or pendant and a worked piece of antler. Several unfinished objects and waste also point to tool production during the Migration period. These comprise of an unfinished sheep mandible awl, four unfinished antler combs, five other pieces of red deer antler with sawing marks and a waste piece of elk antler, which is presumably comb making waste as well.

An unfinished pendant or amulet and two pieces of production waste attest to the processing of red deer antler during the Merovingian period, whereas a partly perforated, sawn cattle caput femoris and a cattle horn core with cut marks attest to cattle bone and horn processing. The unfinished sheep tibia flute also dates to this period. Bone working at the site during the Carolingian period is attested by two unfinished needles. Other pieces of waste could not be dated to a particular period (table 4).

Tool production is thus attested to in the Roman, Migration, Merovingian and Carolingian periods. The small volume of production waste and of unfinished tools suggest small-scale production, mainly for use at the terp itself. There is no indication that bone, antler and horn tools were made in large numbers to be traded. An example of a site where many tiny antler waste pieces (353 on a total of 392 worked antler and bone remains) were found and that was perhaps an antler comb production site in the Merovingian and Carolingian periods, is Leidsche Rijn (Utrecht) (Esser 2009, 318-319). Maastricht and Antwerp are other examples of large-scale production sites (Dijkman & Ervynck 1998; Ervynck 1998).

Bone, antler and horn working were most likely some subsidiary activities of the inhabitants, who first and for all would have been farmers. They used the butchery waste that was present at the terp in large quantities and some antler. During the Migration, Merovingian, Carolingian and Ottonian periods the site was perhaps visited by itinerant artisans, who sold ready-made products such as antler combs or made or repaired tools on demand during their stay. These artisans could be compared with the goldsmiths who visited the terp during the Merovingian and Carolingian periods (Schoneveld & Zijlstra 1999; Nijboer & Van Reekum 1999).