Conclusion on the Horses of Roucadour

Hence, the horses of Roucadour display a general trend towards schematiza-tion; their graphism shows a few conventions that are well known at the start of Palaeolithic art—absolute profile, limbs without volume or perspective, reduction of the head, duck-bill, hanging bellies, arch-shaped manes, X-shaped legs—but at the same time they escape uniformity through a frequent recourse to detail: the markings ofthe coat, the astonishing precision of certain anatomical segments, especially the legs and manes which are found more often in the images of Magdalenian horses; for example, the legs and hoofs of VII-1 and X-1 and the mane and head of XII-42 would be perfectly at home in Magdalenian works. An original form of animation already seems to be depicted in two cases through the opening of the mouth (IV-1 and IV-15).

It should be noted that archaic conventions are sometimes found on the same animal next to characteristics that occur in all phases of Palaeolithic art until its end: for example, the association on the same horse of legs made of parallel lines and X-shaped legs or well-shaped legs and duck-bill heads; or the association of archaic traits with polychromy and the marking of coats, that is, with characteristics which are still generally attributed to evolved phases of Palaeolithic art.

Taken as a whole, all the images in Roucadour astonish us through their mastery and their graphic freedom, their trend towards the conventional simplification of the outlines, marking a distance from the anatomy of the subjects, associated with an episodic search for the true detail and even an attempt at animation. The current study ofsuperimposition oflines seems to underline the homogeneity of the parietal layout at Roucadour which, chronologically, must be dated to around 25,000 to 28,000 years ago. The original signs of Roucadour, especially the indented circles, which are associated with all the types of horses that have just been described, further emphasize this homogeneity.

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