Research about ancient saddles found in Mongolia published in “Antiquity” journal

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An article about ancient saddles discovered and studied in Mongolia was published in the international journal Antiquity. In 2014, researchers at the National Museum of Mongolia discovered a wooden saddle in the cave burials of Urd Ulaan Uneet cave of Myangad soum, Khovd Province. It is the oldest traditional wooden saddle found not only in Mongolia but also in East Asia. Several artifacts were seized by the police, including a black and red-painted birch saddle with leather straps on both sides, an iron spearhead, a wooden archery tool, and the remains of a mummified horse.

There was also a human skeleton buried in sheep and badger skins in a grave. This grave is called “Horseman’s cave”. Based on a detailed study of the radiation of the human remains and the saddle leather strap, it was determined to belong to 420 AD. Also, in 2015, Dr. Ts.Turbat discovered a bent iron pedal in a grave at the lower slope of Uguumur sidehill, on the border between Gurvanzagal and Choibalsan soums of Dornod Province. Based on the study of these findings by scientists using many scientific methods, the article was published in the above journal. J.Bayarsaikhan, researcher of the National Museum of Mongolia, archaeologist of the Institute of Geo-Anthology of Germany Max Planck, archaeologist Dr. Ts.Turbat, study author archaeologist Dr. William Taylor and 25 domestic and foreign scientists jointly wrote the research article.

“The new information the researchers found in their study shows that horse cultures of the Eurasian steppe were early adopters of frame saddles and stirrups, further suggesting that Mongolian steppe cultures were closely tied to key innovations in equestrianism, an advance that had a major impact on the conduct of medieval warfare. But domestication was hard on the horses. The horse found in the Urd Ulaan Uneet cave had damage to his teeth and changes to his nasal bones, similar to injuries found in other horse burials in Central and Eastern Asia. Additionally, the Urd Ulaan Uneet horse had healed nock marks to the ears that might have been used to show who the horse belonged to during its life.” Dr. Taylor said.

The discovery also highlights the deep relationships between humans and animals in Mongolia. For millennia, pastoral peoples have traveled between the vast grasslands of the Mongolian Steppe with their horses which, in the region, tend to be short but sturdy, capable of surviving winter temperatures that can plummet far below freezing. Also, Dr. Taylor highlighted, “Ultimately, technology emerging from Mongolia has, through a domino effect, ended up shaping the horse culture that we have in America today, especially our traditions of saddlery and stirrups.”



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