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
5 Six groups of bone tools, production waste and unfinished tools

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5.2 Personal utensils: combs, pins, rings and beads

All combs found in Wijnaldum-Tjitsma are composite combs made out of a row of tooth plates that were fixed between two side plates with iron or bronze nails to keep the tooth and side plates together. After the tooth and side plates were joined, the teeth were created by sawing the plates (Ulbricht 1978; Ambrosiani 1981; MacGregor 1985).

Most comb finds in Wijnaldum-Tjitsma are fragments of broken combs: isolated tooth plates, fragments of side plates, or tooth and side plate fragments of the same comb. Complete combs are rare (table 1). The fragmentary state of the comb material hampered the attribution of all comb fragments to a comb type.

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Figure 8 One-sided type 1 composite comb made of red deer antler, find no. 1145, period unknown. Combs of this type have curved, high-sided plates and extended end tooth plates. The comb is decorated with parallel and crossing lines.

We recognized five types of one-sided composite combs. Type 1 has curved, rather high side plates; the end tooth plates extend at both ends beyond the side plates. The top of the tooth plates follow the curved top of the side plates. At Wijnaldum-Tjitsma the combs’ tooth and side plates were made out of red deer antler. One side plate of each comb is decorated with crossing and parallel lines (fig. 8). The upper edge of the tooth plates is sometimes decorated with lines. Type 1 is represented by five complete or larger parts of combs. Two date to the Merovingian period, the other three are undated. This type of comb was quite common in the Frisian and Groningen Early Medieval terpen area (Miedema 1983, 224; Knol 1993, 82-83).

Type 2 of the one-sided composite combs has the same curved, rather wide side plates and is also made out of antler. The end tooth plates, however, do not extend beyond the end of the side plates. Both side plates are decorated with point-circles and lines (fig. 9). Three combs are attributed to this type. One is dated to the Merovingian period, one to the Carolingian period and the third is undated. This type of comb was quite common in Dorestad (Roes 1965).

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Figure 9 One-sided composite type 2 comb made of red deer antler, find no. 11624, Merovingian period. These combs are similar to type 1 but the end tooth plates do not extend beyond the side plates.

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Figure 10 One-sided composite type 3 comb made of red deer antler, find no. 6047, Carolingian period. The end tooth plates of this type extend beyond the ends of the side plates. The side plates are straight and narrow.

The end tooth plates of one-sided composite comb type 3 extend beyond the ends of the side plates, similar to type 1. The side plates, however, are straight and narrow. Four such combs were found, one dates to the Carolingian period, two to the Ottonian and the fourth is undated. The side plates of these combs are decorated with lines and, similar to type 1, only one side plate of each comb is decorated (fig. 10). These combs were made out of red deer antler, cattle metacarpus and sheep rib (table 3). This type of comb is quite often found in Frisian and Groningen terpen (Roes 1963; Miedema 1983, 225; Knol et al. 1996, 334).

One-sided composite comb type 4, which is only represented by a fragment, is a so-called winged comb. In this type, the end tooth plates extend as wings above the ends of the side plates. The Wijnaldum comb of this type has straight and narrow side plates, similar to type 3. The wings are small. The comb was made of red deer antler. The end tooth plates and the side plates are decorated with point-circles and there are lines on the side plates. The Wijnaldum winged comb dates to the Migration period (fig. 11). Winged combs are found in other Frisian and Groningen terpen (Roes 1963, 19-20; Miedema 1983, 228; Knol 1993, 82-83).

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Figure 11 Fragments of a one-sided composite type 4 comb, the so-called winged comb, made of red deer antler, find no. 8018, Migration period. The end tooth plates extend like wings above the straight and narrow side plates.

The tooth plates of one-sided composite comb type 5 extend far above the side plates. Only one example was found in Wijnaldum, dating to the Carolingian or Ottonian period. It was made of red deer antler. The only side plate present is decorated with lines (fig. 12).

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Figure 12 Fragments of a one-sided composite type 5 comb made of red deer antler, find no. 6067, Carolingian of Ottonian period (AD 770-900/950). The tooth plates extend above the side plates.

The many tooth plates and side plate fragments from broken combs mainly come from combs of type 1, 2 and 3. The side plates are either undecorated or are decorated with parallel lines, crossing lines, zigzag lines or point-circles or combinations of these elements. The side plates and the end tooth plates of the only complete two-sided composite comb are decorated with point circles and lines (fig. 13).

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Figure 13 Two-sided comb of red deer antler, find no. 9608, Migration period; a. photograph, b. drawing.

One-sided composite combs are much more common in Wijnaldum-Tjitsma than two-sided ones (table 1: 87% against 13%). A different picture emerges in Late Roman and Early Medieval Maastricht (AD 450-750) in the south of the Netherlands, where 82% of the composite antler combs are two-sided composite combs and 18% are one-sided combs. Of the one-sided composite combs, 91% have triangular side plates (Dijkman & Ervynck 1998). The three (late) Roman composite combs from Wijk bij Duurstede-De Geer show the same distribution: two are two-sided and the only one-sided comb has triangular side plates (Thach & Lauwerier 2010). This type is completely absent in Wijnaldum-Tjitsma but was found in the Hallum, Oosterbeintum and Englum terpen (see below) and in some other terpen (Roes 1963, plate XIV-XVI; Miedema 1983, fig. 169). Triangular combs are absent in Early Medieval Dorestad and Leidsche Rijn (Roes 1965; Clason 1980; Esser 2009).

Other personal utensils in Wijnaldum-Tjitsma are pins for clothing and hair, rings and beads. One of the pins was made out of a pig fibula (fig. 14). Wear trace analysis (link to report in supplementary material) on a pin made from red deer antler demonstrated that it was used on wool, i.e. on clothing. A pin made from a mammal long bone was presumably a hairpin, since it seems to have made contact with hair, which may have been slightly oily or dirty, at least not very clean. Both pins date to the Merovingian period. The rings are made from antler (fig. 15) and unidentified bone and the bead was made of antler bone (fig. 16) (table 4).

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Figure 14 Two hair or clothing pins made from a pig fibula (left: find no. 8021, Migration period) and a mammal long bone (right: find no. 5453, Merovingian period).

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Figure 15 Two red deer antler rings. Left: find no. 1004, Migration period; right: find no. 702, Ottonian period. The last object might be a pendant instead of a ring.

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Figure 16 Unfinished bead of red deer antler, find no. 3945, Migration period.