Horses and Hunters

Part of the Horse exhibition.

How did the relationship between horses and people begin? No one knows precisely, but prehistoric evidence from western Europe tells part of the story. Wild horses roamed the Ice Age landscape of Europe tens of thousands of years ago. By around 40,000 years ago, our own species began to settle in the region as well.

In Ice Age Europe, people were predators and horses were prey. Early hunting weapons and horse remains found in the area show that long before humans rode horses or used them as beasts of burden, they hunted these animals for food. Ancient images carved in bone or painted deep inside caves suggest that horses also played an important role in the rituals of prehistoric people, as they would in many cultures for centuries to come.