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Palaeopathology and horse domestication: the case of some Iron Age horses horn the Altai Mountains, Siberia

Levine, M.A., Bailey, G., Whitwell, K.E. and Jeffcott, L.B. (2000) Palaeopathology and horse domestication: the case of some Iron Age horses horn the Altai Mountains, Siberia. In: Bailey, G., Charles, R. and Winder, N., (eds.) Human Ecodynamics. Symposia of the Association for Environmental Archaeology . Oxbow Books , pp. 123-133. ISBN 1842170015

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Abstract

We discuss the use of palaeopathological indicators in horse skeletons as potential sources I of evidence about the use of horses for riding and traction. We suggest that this type of information can provide an important and perhaps more reliable complement to other indicators of domestication such as morphological changes, kill-off patterns and bit wear, which suffer from various ambiguities of interpretation. We emphasise the importance of studying the skeletons of modern control samples of horses of known life histories as a constraint on the interpretation of palaeopathological evidence and demonstrate the viability of the technique through a comparison of free-living Exmoor ponies with Iron Age Scythian horse remains from Siberia. We demonstrate that stresses caused by riding produce characteristic lesions on the vertebrae which can be distinguished from age-related damage in free-living animals, and in addition that these stresses could have been moderated by changes of saddle design in the Medieval period. These results also throw new light on customs associated with horse burial.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Reproduced with permission.
Keywords: horse, domestication, bone lesions, pathology, Siberia
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 15 May 2006
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2014 19:22
Status: Published
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Refereed: No
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1171

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