Browsing Science by Publisher "Royal Archaeological Institute"
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The Clacton Spear: the last one hundred yearsIn 1911 an eminent amateur prehistorian pulled the broken end of a pointed wooden shaft from Palaeolithic-age sediments at a seaside town in Essex. This artefact, still the earliest worked wood to be discovered in the world, became known as the Clacton Spear. Over the past 100 years it has variously been interpreted as a projectile weapon, a stave, a digging stick, a snow probe, a lance, a game stake and a prod to ward off rival scavengers. These perspectives have followed academic fashions, as the popular views of early hominins have altered. Since discovery the Clacton spear has also been replicated twice, has undergone physical transformations due to preservation treatments, and has featured in two public exhibitions. Within this article the changing context of the spear, its parallels, and all previous conservation treatments and their impacts are assessed.