The discovery of the engraved pebble at Étiolles is of great importance, giving us as much new information as it inspires questions.
The depiction of the animals, notably horses, is original due to the combination of realism in its detail and stylisation in its silhouette. With there being only two specimens on the pebble, it is too early to suggest a local variant of Magdalenian style. However, it is clear from the relatively high number of horses on the rare works from the Paris Basin that this animal played an important role as the preferred theme in art in the Upper Palaeolithic in the region.
To make further comparisons, in terms of both style and theme, it is necessary to look further afield, to the south. Analogies can be made between the Étiolles engravings and others much further away. Artistic objects show us that 15,000 years ago the exchange networks of Magdalenian groups in the south-west were oriented towards the Paris Basin and the plains of Belgium and Germany. The discovery of the pebble at Étiolles may therefore be one of the indicators of this late expansion of Magdalenian ideas.
In the engraving, there are many clues which lead us to interpret it in the context of hunting. To paraphrase Claude Lévi-Strauss, we can think that for man at this time the reindeer and horse, “good to eat”, were also equally “good to think [with]”.