Saturday, August 22, 2020

Bronze Age horsemanship

 New research suggests that horse riding may have emerged earlier than generally thought.

Scientists have discovered new facts about the use of horses in the Bronze Age. A team of scientists, from Khazakhstan, Russia and the US, showed that people of the Andronova culture mastered horse riding several centuries earlier than is commonly believed.

The researchers came to this conclusion when working with the remains of two Late Bronze Age horses from Kurgan (burial mound) no 5 of the Novoil’inovskiy 2 Cemetery, near the city of Lisakovsk in the  Republic of Kazakhstan.

They discovered that changes on the horses’ skulls that were consistent with having been bridled.  Remnants of bridles were found near the horses, including cheekpieces that showed wear that could have been caused by use with soft bits.

The scientists conclude that the bone pathologies and the wear on the cheekpieces were most consistent with the horses being used for riding or chariotry.

Igor Chechushkov, of the South Ural State University (SUSU) took part in the laboratory and analytical part of the study. He analysed the burials, and radiocarbon dating information from the horse bones and artifacts removed from the site.

"We received radiocarbon dates that made it possible to date the complex with an accuracy of several decades. A comparison of these dates with the known ones allowed us to conclude that horsemanship, that is, the use of horses in military affairs, began to be practiced much earlier than many researchers had previously expected.”

It had been thought that horsemanship evolved around 900 BC. But Chechushkov points out “Our materials suggest that armed horsemen who fought on horseback could have appeared in the Eurasian steppes no later than 1600 BC.”

For more details, see:

Early evidence for horse utilization in the Eurasian steppes and the case of the Novoil’inovskiy 2 Cemetery in Kazakhstan

Igor V.Chechushkov, Emma R.Usmanova, Pavel A.Kosintsev

Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Volume 32, August 2020, 102420


See also:

On the Earliest Use of Plate-Formed Cheekpieces and the Emergence of Horse Riding (Based on Finds from the Novoilyinovskiy II Cemetery in Northern Kazakhstan)

I.V. Chechushkov, A. A. Ovsyannikov, E. R. Usmanova

Archaeology, ethnology & anthropology of Eurasia (2020) Vol 48, No 2

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