Collection: National Archaeology Museum © RMN-Grand Palais / Loïc Hamon

Le Mas d’Azil (Ariège): likely a dart-thrower fragment

Created with reindeer antlers, this piece is interpreted to be a dart or spear thrower. It was unearthed in the excavations conducted by Edouard Piette in the Mas d'Azil Cave in the late 19th century and is now attributed to the Middle and Upper Magdalenian.
Three horse heads are treated in a sensitive and realistic fashion. Two are detached from the object's body; treated in relief on the trunk of the object, the third depicts an animal with eyes closed, tongue hanging out and a portion of the skull visible. These elements suggest an échorché or decaying head, a rare representation among the found Paleolithic artefacts.