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Ancestors of the Oriental Horse in Eurasia: Origin and Distribution

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2020.48.1.129-139

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Abstract

This study discusses the origin and dispersal of the Oriental agile horse, using a range of data—historical, faunal, genetic, and iconographic. It focuses on the Akhal-Teke horses as the model breed of the Oriental horse. Their unambiguous ancestors were horses ridden by the Pazyryk chieftains (400-200 BC). Findings about the Oriental horses, based on the analysis of the Akhal-Teke and Pazyryk breeds, are compared with osteological and iconographic data relating to horses from adjacent territories. This paper looks at horse breeding in Iran and at the Nisaean breed— the earliest one mentioned in written sources. Using the criteria outlined by the prominent Russian horse expert W.O. Witt, the exterior of the Oriental horse is described, and its homeland and dispersal across the neighboring areas are reconstructed. The likely homeland was Central Asia from the Caspian coast to Fergana, and the time of origin is between the beginning of horse riding and military campaigns. The Oriental horse was possibly an outcome of a cross between the domesticated horse from the Middle Volga and the tarpan of the Eurasian or Asian steppes.

About the Author

V. B. Kovalevskaya
Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Dm. Ulyanova 19, Moscow, 117036



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For citation:


Kovalevskaya V.B. Ancestors of the Oriental Horse in Eurasia: Origin and Distribution. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2020;48(1):129-139. https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2020.48.1.129-139

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ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)