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No. 33: May-Jun 1984

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The Azilian Pebbles

Although Bahn's article is primarily about how to spot fake Azilian pebbles, he also provides some fascinating facts about the real ones. Genuine Azilian pebbles seem to have been carefully selected for size and shape. Most are oval or oblong and may be up to 8 centimeters long, 3 centimeters wide, and one centimeter thick. Over a thousand have been found around Europe. They have been considered primitive art, markers for prehistoric games, and possibly early forms of notation. Claude Couraude has analyzed the markings and concluded that particular combinations of signs recur frequently; the same for certain numbers of dots. There are 16 simple types of signs (dots and lines) but only 41 of the many possible combinations have been found. Evidence supports the existence of some sort of 'syntax.' Couraud speculates that some sort of cyclic notation is involved, perhaps lunar in nature, like some of the markings found on bones from the same general period.

(Bahn, Paul G.; "How to Spot a Fake Azilian Pebble," Nature, 308:229, 1984.)

Reference. Additional information on the Azilian pebbles may be found in our Handbook Ancient Man. To order, visit: here.

Azialian pebbles Typical Azialian pebbles (from Ancient Man)

From Science Frontiers #33, MAY-JUN 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987