What is This Mysterious Stone Age Object?

Archaeologists digging at Zaraysk, Russia, unearthed a trove of Stone Age figurines and carvings, including something puzzling: a cone-shaped object whose function remains a mystery:

Also among the finds was an object carved from mammoth ivory, shaped like a cone with its top removed. The cone is densely ornamented and has a hole running through its centre.

The authors note that the object is unique among Palaeolithic artefacts. "The function of this decorated object remains a puzzle," they say.

Since you guys are experts at guessing in our weekly What is it? game, let's try this one for size: what do you think the mystery object is for?

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(Photo: Amirkhanov/Lev/Antiquity)


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I honestly don't think ivory would be hard enough to withstand constant grinding. Most cultures would rather use stone for milling.

The drop spindle whorl theory gets the most points. Religious artifact would be next.

Although, if you do put a cord pull through the hole, it might be the decorative cover of some kind of urn that possible stored grain or oil. The size mentioned makes sense.
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Weird, when I first tried to comment the other day the comments were down.

Anywho, I vote for millstone as well. They would use this in conjunction with another stone, possibly with grooves in it, and the hole is for a stick to use as a receptacle for whatever weights were needed.

Still doesn't explain all the decorating, but whatever.
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I'm always amazed by the assumption that prehistoric people didn't decorate their tools. It's seems universal that craft and tradesmen decorate and personalize their tools whether we're talking about Studley's tool box or those Japanese/Pakistani decorated trucks.
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