Station: [18] The craft of processing bone and antler

  • Oldenburger Wallmuseum

Antlers, horn and bones are raw materials easy to process. They are ideal for producing items of everyday need such as knife handles, needles or broaches. The forerunners of our present-day skates, so-called skating bones, which could be fastened under loads or shoes, were also made by craftsmen using the metatarsals or spokes of cattle or horses, sometimes also from the fibulas of a pig.

Quite typical for early urban settlement was the comb-maker. He was a craftsman specialized in the working of antlers and bones and also made intricate tokens and decorated combs. In the top of the cabinet you can see the so-called three-layer comb. The plate into which the comb-maker saws the comb-teeth is placed between two covering layers. Then, all 3 layers are riveted together. The craftsman refines his product by carving.

The board game figure shown in the middle of the cabinet is another example of the work of the comb-maker at the prince’s courtyard. This game figure, which is richly decorated in great detail, is one of only a few finds of its kind. We now know that a full set of figures comprised of 15 colored counters and 15 counters with natural finish. The respective game dates back to the Roman period, known as ’12 Field Game’. Since the Middle Ages it was named Tric-Trac, today we know it as backgammon.