Reindeer and horses were the preferred prey of the Magdalenians in the Paris Basin, on which their subsistence depended. We can however see that they used diverse hunting practices, perhaps depending on the length or season of the camp’s occupation or reflecting different types of economic planning. At Pincevent, we can see that the priority game varied. In certain levels, reindeer were subject to massive and certainly collective slaughter (for example, 76 individual animals are recorded on level IV-20) and on other levels reindeer and horses were both hunted (level IV-0). At Étiolles, too, we suspect there was some alternation, even if it is less obvious: in one of the levels of locus 1, there is a cluster of horse bones (“the horse cluster”) from the simultaneous hunting of three animals in spring, whereas in locus 2, there is evidence from several occupations of individual or small groups of reindeer being hunted during the spring or summer.
Weapons and hunting tactics
The relative diversity seen in the weapons used by Magdalenian hunters, and in particular in the range of their flint complements, inspires questions about the variety of hunting tactics. As well as the retouched flint bladelets that traditionally adorned the points of the Magdalenians’ sagaies made in reindeer antler, there were sometimes small flint points in the deposits at Cepoy (Loiret), Marsangy (Yonne) and in several loci at Le Tureau des Gardes (Seine-et-Marne). We don’t yet know if these points were used on the ends of spears, sagaies or arrows. Their presence, which links local weapons to the most northern and recent culture of the Magdalenian, could reflect particular hunting techniques.
There does not seem to be a particular link between the choice of weapon (points or retouched bladelets), the species hunted (reindeer or horses) or the hunting method (individual or collective) used. Therefore, the variety in hunting weapons may be due to other more subtle factors, such as the position of the hunters at the moment of the killing, the precise layout of the topography, the size of the herd and the hunting season.