Bronze Age horse burials found in Mongolia

Excavations of 3200-years-old burial mounds in Mongolia revealed remains of horses buried individually near the graves of humans.

Skull of a horse found (by William Taylor)

The burial sites often consist of central monument – a stone burial mound or a beautiful standing stone called a “deer stone”, and around the eastern perimeter are all of these individual horse burial mounds. The horses received individual burial mounds outside the main perimeter of the burial site, typically towards the east. They contain the head and the hooves and sometimes the upper neck bones. Radiocarbon dating of the horse bones found in the sacred Bronze Age burial mounds, shows that these animals began to receive ritual burials around 1200 BC.

Excavations at the site (by William Taylor)

According to archaeologists there is a lot of evidence that this major change in people’s relationship to horses was related to the development of horseback riding. The first historical records of skilled horseback riding in Mongolia were around 800 BC, when images of mounted warriors first start to be seen in historical documents. However, the first domestication of horses came much earlier, at around 3500 BC. The discovery and dating of the remains pushes back the date for the cultural development of of sophisticated horseback riding in Mongolia centuries earlier than historical sources suggest.

Horse beside a stone marking a tomb (by William Taylor)

(after International Business Times & William Taylor)

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