Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bronze Age Horse Burial Uncovered in Gohar Tappeh, Iran

News from CAIS (Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies)

Oldest remains of Caspian Horse discovered in North of Iran
Friday, 29 April 2011 03:17 [Excerpted]

Caspian horses depicted in relief at Persepolis.
 LONDON, (CAIS) -- During the eighth season of archaeological research in Gohar Tappeh, in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a horse identified as the Caspian also known as the Māzandarān Horse, the oldest breed of horse in the world still in existence.

The remains were discovered in a cemetery dating back to the late Bronze and early Iron age, around 3400 BCE.

“Due to the form, figure and size of the discovered remains of the horse, we now have the oldest evidence for Caspian horse ancestry at hand”, said Ali Mahforuzi, the director of the archaeological team in Gohar Tappeh.

The Caspian Horse

The Caspian horse or the ‘Kings’ Horse’, was celebrated in ancient Iran as a chariot horse for racing and in battle, and presented to kings and queens as a valuable gift and is known to be favoured by Darius the Great.

The Caspian horse was thought to have disappeared into antiquity, until 1965 when the American wife of an Iranian aristocrat called Louise Firouz went on an expedition on horseback and discovered small horses in the Iranian mountainous regions south of the Caspian Sea.

The number of surviving Caspian horses in Iran is still quite small. In addition, there are only 1300 registered Persian Caspians world-wide, mainly in the US, UK, Germany and Australia. The last export of Caspian horses out of Iran occurred in the early '90s, with a small shipment arriving in Great Britain.

The Caspians are smaller than modern horses at around 11.3 hands compared with a modern racehorse at 16. They have light frames, thin bones, short, fine head with a pronounced forehead, large eyes, short ears and small muzzles. They are very fast, and incredibly strong and spirited, but also have good temperaments, and described by Louise Firouz as “kind, intelligent and willing.”

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