Atlatl discovered by Édouard Piette during excavations of the Magdalenian layers (ca. 15,000 years BP) of the Mas d'Azil Cave at Mas d?Azil (Ariège).

Sculpted from reindeer antler, this atlatl, as a blunted hook suggests, depicts three horse heads. At one end, a small foal's head is sculpted in ronde-bosse aplatie. On one side of the shaft there is a larger horse's head, also sculpted in ronde-bosse aplatie. On one side of the piece, an emaciated horse's head is sculpted in low relief. The bone structure and muscles have been accurately rendered, and there are many details, including the ears, eyes, nostrics, mouth, teeth, beard, withers and mane. The three horse heads perhaps symbolise the three stages of life - youth, maturity and old age, which lead inevitably to death.

Object on display at the Piette Gallery and, in the form of a cast, in the Palaeolithic Gallery of the National Archaeology Museum - Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Length = 16.5 cm; Width = 9.0 cm; Thickness = 1.7 cm. MAN 47 080

© RMN - Grand Palais (musée d'Archéologie nationale) / Thierry LeMage
Atlatl decorated with three horses from Mas d?Azil