Friday, March 06, 2009

Horses were tamed a millennium earlier than previously thought

LA Times

OF COURSE, OF COURSE: "To me, the domestication of the horse was a seminal event in human history," said one archaeologist. "All the major empire builders, like Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, would have been nothing without horses."

New evidence, including mares milk residue in pottery, shows that horses were domesticated 5,500 years ago in Central Asia.
By Thomas H. Maugh II
March 6, 2009
The horse, its four slender legs accomplishing astonishing feats of strength and endurance, has provided humans with far more than transportation from point A to point B.

It has allowed us to travel long distances for trade, carry heavy loads, move our societies around more freely and, inevitably, conduct more efficient warfare. Arguably the most important domesticated animal, the horse also has provided humans with meat and milk.

Now we have a better idea of when this complex and vital human-horse relationship began.

New evidence, including more slender leg bones, bit-pitted teeth and mares milk residue in pottery, indicate that the horse was domesticated on the steppes of Central Asia at least 5,500 years ago, more than 1,000 years earlier than previously believed and 2,000 years before it appeared in Europe.


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