Domestic horses are probably not native to Anatolia


Domestic horses are probably not native to Anatolia as previously suspected, according to a new study of ancient horse remains dating as far back as 9000 BCE. Instead, they may have been introduced to the peninsula – which makes up most of modern-day Turkey – and the neighboring Caucasus region from the Eurasian steppe around 2000 BCE, during the Bronze Age.

The results also suggest that imported domestic horses were bred with local Anatolian wild horses and donkeys and provide the first genomic evidence of a mule in Southwest Asia, dating to between 1100 and 800 BCE. The domestication of horses about 5,500 years ago forever changed transport, commerce, warfare and migration. But despite their transformative role in human history, it is still not clear where, when and how many times horses were domesticated. In recent years, the careful recovery of horse remains from well-preserved archaeological sites in Anatolia and neighboring regions as well as advances in paleogenetic approaches have made it possible to specifically address the processes responsible for the origin of domestic horses in this part of the world. Western Asia.

To determine if Anatolia could have been this mysterious point of origin, Silvia Guimaraes and her colleagues analyzed more than 100 equine remains from 8 sites in central Anatolia and 6 sites in the Caucasus dating mostly from the Neolithic era. ancient in the Iron Age (9000-500 BCE).

The researchers performed morphological and paleogenetic analyzes, scrutinizing mitochondrial DNA, Y chromosome DNA, and DNA markers related to coat color. They found that the non-local genetic lines still present in domestic horses arose suddenly around 2000 BCE rather than developing gradually over time, as one would expect if these changes were to appear in Anatolia. This draws attention to the neighboring Black Sea regions as a more likely origin for domesticated horses, according to the authors.

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