Abri Montastruc

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Habitation site
44.05, 1.67

The best-known object found in the Bruniquel shelters is a reindeer antler propeller depicting a leaping horse, or jumping horse propeller, preserved in the National Archaeology Museum and dated around 12,000 BC. This sculpture showing a horse jumping the obstacle, made in the round on reindeer antlers and found in the Montastruc shelter in the nineteenth century, is considered a masterpiece of Paleolithic furniture art.

Also from the Montastruc shelter:

  • the "girl" engraved on an animal rib, kept at the National Archaeology Museum;
  • the thruster decorated with a mammoth, carved reindeer wood in the round, characteristic of the Middle Magdalenian, preserved in the British Museum;
  • the "swimming reindeer", a sculpture around the tip of a mammoth tusk, preserved in the British Museum; this non-utilitarian object is considered a masterpiece on par with the bouncing horse thruster of the National Archaeology Museum; It is the position of the heads and legs that suggests that the two reindeer are swimming;
  • about 80 plates engraved on limestone or shale, of all sizes and various patterns;
  • harpoons made of bone or reindeer antlers, witnesses of an occupation at the end of the Magdalenian

In the middle of the 20th century, Bernard Bétirac made a few additional discoveries at the Montastruc shelter, the most notable of which was an object of adornment: a perforated bone washer, decorated with an ibex head turned to the left, published by André Leroi-Gourhan in 1965. This discovery is in addition to the few decorative objects discovered in the 19th century in the same shelter. These are in particular:

  • a bone roundel 15 decorated with chevrons forming a central barbed sign, which was presented to the Toulouse public in 1884 during an exhibition and published by Émile Cartailhac in 1885 before the transfer to the British Museum;
  • at least two other bone rounds with radiant decorations;
  • three perforated reindeer teeth;
  • a small decorated and perforated pebble and a pebble whose perforation has disappeared, which are probably pendants.

The portable art of the Montastruc shelter is part of long-distance cultural exchanges. We find, for example, the technique of eyes encrusted with black from the propellant to the mammoth on the scale of an area going from the north of Spain to Périgord. The notched rim that surrounds the ibex head washer has approximately the same distribution area. The horse's head cut out of a flat bone seems to echo a known motif cut out of the hyoid bone; its symbolic meaning, which we guess is linked to the resemblance between the hyoid bone and the head of a horse, would have disappeared between its Pyrenean origin and its arrival in the Aveyron valley. At the end of a long period of cultural exchanges on both sides of the Pyrenees, the area of ​​diffusion of the horse's head thruster no longer reached Spain and on the contrary extended towards the east with a copy in Kesslerloch in Switzerland.

Locally, the choice of a realistic decoration on the disc with the head of an ibex, an unusual choice compared to the usual geometric decorations, is found in the Aveyron valley at the Fontalès shelter ( with the bovid -cattle-fish association). ) as well as the Courbet cave (with deer). On the other hand, the presence of perforated reindeer teeth among the decorative objects differentiates the shelter from the Courbet - Fontalès group and brings it closer to the Plantade, Lafaye, and Gandil shelters on-site at Bruniquel.