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Object of the Month

Bone punch from Cornia Nou

Bone punch from Cornia Nou


Origin: The prehistoric village of Cornia Nou (Maó)

Material: Bone

Size: 20cm long and 2cm of maximum width, approximately

Culture: Talayotic

Excavation reference: Recovered during the excavation campaign of 2009.

Date: Approximately 800-600 BCE



It refers to an object made from a long piece of adult cattle bone. It is completely polished due to abrasion, therefore conserving none of its original surface, which makes it impossible to identify which part of the body the bone is from. The sharp end is very long and defined and the end used as the handle, is completely smooth.

From a general point of view, the bone punch is an object of remote origins, with a broad distribution across different continents during recent Prehistory, maintained by a similar development process and little variety of its final shape. The main conditioning factor was related to the type of faunal species available in each area.

In the Balearics’ prehistory, punches are the most common, amongst the bone instruments found. In agreement with both the ethnological research and experimental archaeology carried out on similar objects from other regions, its function could be linked to working with leather and/or basketry. There are also records documenting the bone punches use as a tool for textiles and related to grafting.

The punch to which this work refers to, comes from what they call the South Building of Cornia Nou, a rectangular construction of monumental nature which is attached to the southern side of the sites’ greatest talayot. It was recovered amongst the levels of debris in the West Room of Area 1 in the South Building. It has been possible to establish that this monument was already in use around the year 1000 BCE and was abandoned around 600 BCE. From the radiocarbon dating carried out, it has been suggested that the punch belongs to the last period of use of the South Building, dated between 800-600 BCE approximately.

The significance of the Cornia Nou punch must be understood within its context. This punch is part of a wider ensemble of objects made from animal bones, found in the South Building of Cornia Nou, amongst which there are more than 15 punches, 3 spatulas as well as 3 discs. In addition, the South Building has provided an abundant range of stone utensils (hand grinders, hammers, mortars and pestle), ceramics as well as vegetal and animal remains. Using all this evidence, it has been concluded that the South Building was an area used to carry out activities related mostly with the management, processing and storage of food for the community that lived at Cornia Nou during the first half of the 1st millennium BCE.

Card author: Damià Ramis



Anglada, M.; Ferrer, A.; Plantalamor, L.; Ramis, D. & Van Strydonck, M. 2011. Les comunitats humanes a Menorca durant l’edat del bronze: el jaciment de Cornia Nou. Quaderns de Prehistòria i Arqueologia de Castelló, 29: 27-46.

Anglada, M.; Ferrer, A.; Plantalamor, L.; Ramis, D. & Van Strydonck, M. 2012. Arquitectura monumental y complejidad social a partir de finales del segundo milenio cal BC: el edificio sur del sector oeste de Cornia Nou (Menorca). Sardinia, Corsica et Baleares Antiquae, 10: 23-44.

Anglada, M.; Ferrer, A.; Plantalamor, L.; Ramis, D. & Van Strydonck, M. 2013. La sucesión de ocupaciones entre el Calcolítico y la Edad Media en el yacimiento de Cornia Nou (Menorca, Islas Baleares). Espacio, Tiempo y Forma. Serie I, Nueva Época (Prehistoria y Arqueología), 6: 269-299.

Anglada, M.; Ferrer, A.; Plantalamor, L.; Ramis, D.; Van Strydonck, M. & De Mulder, G. 2014. Chronological framework for the early Talayotic period in Menorca: the settlement of Cornia Nou. Radiocarbon, 56: 411-424.

BUC, Natacha. 2011. Experimental series and use-wear in bone tools. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38: 546-557.

Ferrer, A.; Plantalamor, L. & Anglada, M. (coord.) 2014. Desenterrant el passat. Les excavacions arqueològiques a Cornia Nou. Maó: Museu de Menorca.

SIDÉRA, Isabelle & LEGRAND, Alexandra. 2006. Tracéologie fonctionnelle des matières osseuses- une méthode. Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, 103: 291-304.

UGARTE, Luxio 1987. Útiles de hueso actuales. Supervivencia de técnicas ancestrales en Oñati. Munibe, 3: 151-155.

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