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Slab with engraved horse
Limestone
Centimetres: 8.4 (height), 25 (length), 21.7 (outside diameter)
Upper Palaeolithic; Gravettian; circa 25,000 BC
Area of Origin: Terme Pialat; France; Europe
Area of Use: Terme Pialat; France
929.29.318
ROM2004_1041_3
 

Description: An important aspect of the development of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) is the development of art. Some evidence may exist of behaviour not entirely related to sustenance from pre-modern humans, but it is only with modern humans that we see unequivocal evidence of such behaviour. This object is an example of Upper Palaeolithic art, from the Gravettian period at Terme Pialat in France. It is rare to find this type of prehistoric art in a museum because most art from this period is parietal, that is, found on cave walls. Artwork on moveable objects is known as mobiliary art. This particular piece depicts a horse, the rump being clearly visible to the left, the head is missing. The exact motivation of this sort of art is a matter of debate. It is possible that the artists created this artwork to better provide sustenance, but it clearly reflects a human with the ability and time to ponder concepts in a similar way to our own.

Publications: 1. Randall White. 1986. Dark Caves, Bright Visions: Life in Ice Age Europe. The American Museum of Natural History. p. 119, fig. 140.

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