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Horseback riding was likely a common activity as early as 4,500 to 5,000 years ago, according to a provocative new study that looked at human skeletal remains for small signs of physical stress associated with riding horses.
Humans first began to observe horses about 5,500 years ago, initially for their food and milk, researchers believe. But how and when the horse became a method of transformation is not so clear.
“Cattle and sheep and goats were domesticated thousands of years before horses. But horses and cattle and sheep and goats are different because they are inherently technological,” says David Anthony, professor emeritus of anthropology at Hartwick College.
Horses began to live with men before the invention of the wheel, and they first appeared about four years ago, drawn by four thousand chariots. About a thousand years later, the explosion of horses and horse-related themes was depicted in artwork. And scientists have tried to collect other forms of evidence that it first emerged in a house with a horse.
Some researchers, such as Anthony and his partner, the archaeologist Dorcas Brown, have examined the teeth of ancient horses in order to identify patterns for the toga through the bits. Whence it is, says Anthony, that there is not much matter to be learned there.
“My wife and I saw the horse collections in the museum and were very confused in Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary,” he says, noting that Eurasian horses were there, where wild horses lived and were available at home.
Another limitation of finding a horse’s teeth with a bite, says Alan Outram with the University of Exeter, is that “it’s been shown to harness. It’s not been shown to ride.”
So now a team led by researchers from the University of Helsinki took a different approach and turned the human relationship to horse riding.
Specifically, they looked for human skeletal remains with features that could come from the types of physical exertion associated with horseback riding, especially bareback riding that requires the legs to maintain a firm grip.
Physicists examined the skeletal remains of four men from archaeological sites in southern Europe, checking them for six types of damage that riding could potentially cause in the bones of the spine, pelvis and legs.
In the newspaper Journal of SciencesOf these, they say that at least four men have the physical signs of nine, so that they are likely to ride horses.
“It is really important to get this evidence from the human side, which has not really been systematically analyzed before,” says Anthony, one of the authors of this study. “This just shows that riding can emerge as the first step in the domestic process.”
All of this research looks solid and makes sense theoretically, agrees Outram, who was not part of this research group. The caveat is that there may be some other unknown physical activity that could have created these symptoms.
“It’s not absolutely 100% proof, but the quality of the paper is very good,” says Outram, who notes that this is the reason archaeological proof has some ambiguity.
“What is fair to say is that, at the moment, the first argument could mean riding a horse,” says Outram.
He notes that until the development of the steam train, which provided the horse with the fastest means of land transportation, it confused people’s idea of distance and their ability to change course.
Pre-modern horses, however, were timid and easily driven, so that their initial use would have been modest.
“They probably weren’t fit to ride in something like a violent fight,” says Antonius, suggesting that humans could have just selected horses from larger herds or goats, and it wasn’t long after that horses became powerful. weapons in war and victory.
But who first had the bright idea of trying to ride a dangerous animal like a horse? Anthony thinks that it is something that only happens to someone who is waiting to be tempted, who does not know how to be rejected often.
“If you, I say, were 12 years old, you know, and your sense of fear was not so developed,” says Antonius, adding that he thinks the first horses to ride “maybe teenagers who wrestled each other to try; again.”
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