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Horses in Cave Art

12 February 2020

In New Scientist, 23rd November, 2019, we had 'Horses reigned supreme among Stone Age artists' which is something of a conumdrum (but you wouldn't think so). In the 1990s Georges Sauret compiled a database of Palaeolithic European art – from mainly Spain and France. The images date between 12,000 and 30,0000 years ago. About 30% of the images were of horses – and they seem to have had a special status. Whereas lions, mammoth and bears were drawn in profile with the heads to the left, horses are most commonly drawn with the heads orientated to the right. In addition, horses are usually found up higher on the frame than other animals – and they are often depicted as larger than the other animals. Some kind of importance was attached to them; In addition, it is though that horses in Europe were not particularly common, a matter of opinion one might suppose. They are rarely found in archaeological contexts, in food waste or middens, and bones of horses are also lacking at most sites. How then did horses attain a high status amongst hunting communities of the period. No reason is offered but we may wonder if horses depicted a non animal object – with flaring mane and flowing tail. Do they depict comets and meteors?

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