Amazing Artefacts: This 14,000 Year Old Toy Might Be The World’s First Animation

The world's first animation? This smal bone disc is carved with a deer on either side. When you spin it, it looks like the deer is running.

The world’s first animation? This smal bone disc is carved with a deer on either side. When you spin it, it looks like the deer is running. Marc Azema & Florent Rivere, 2012.

The internet has fallen in love with this small bone disc marked with a deer on each side. It was made at least 14,000 years ago and when it spins, it looks like the deer is running.

This incredible artefact was originally discovered in 1868 in Dordogne, southwestern France. It’s made of bone, and similar ones have been found in northern Spain and the Pyrenees. For years, archaeologists assumed they were buttons, or pendants.

But then, in 2012, archaeologist Marc Azema teamed up with artist Florent Rivere Marc Azéma teamed up with artist Florent Rivère, and together they discovered that if you thread a string through the hole and spin it, you’ve basically got the world’s first animation.

Film-lovers were quick to point out that this could be the world’s earliest animation, and a recent article suggested it might originally have been made as a toy. In it, archaeologists argue that children are often overlooked in the study of prehistory, and that rather than being part of a ‘ritual’, this charming device could simply have been made to entertain.

And it’s not the only one. Similar bone discs have also been found in northern Spain and the Pyrenees.

Either way, we think it’s one of the most amazing artefacts we’ve ever seen, and can just imagine a Palaeolithic child being enthralled and enchanted by it – just as we are today!

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Written by Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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