Horse hunting and exploitation at Solutré

The horse was the most numerous species in the Solutrean, with a high percentage in the famous horse "magma" of the Gravettian (27,000 BP – 19,000 BP). The "magma" observable in layers up to 2m thick was made from fine sediments transported by the wind during a particularly harsh climatic phase. The horse remains are highly dense since it is estimated that a cubic meter of magma comprises the bones of about 11.5 horses.

Hunters only used a small portion of the carcasses and left entire sections behind. The study of bone distribution reveals that virtually complete and fully connected skeletons were left at the site. As very few cut and butcher marks have been observed on the bones, it is assumed that prehistoric man at Solutré hunted for hides and meat alike.

At Solutré, prehistoric man hunted for hides and meat alike.

Bone studies have revealed information regarding hunting methods. Tooth analysis indicates that horses were killed from the spring onwards, especially during the summer months. In the Aurignacian (37,000 BP to 28,000 BP) and the Gravettian, hunting took place from May to November. An examination of horse tooth cementum indicates that adults were the most hunted horses. Hunting strategies were especially aimed at capturing groups of stallions in the Gravettian and mares and foals in the Magdalenian (18,000 BP to 10,000 BP).

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