Fresh finds in Saudi Arabia may alter horses domestication history

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An ancient archaeological site in Saudi Arabia. Photo - World Archaeology

Horses may first have been tamed as long ago as 7000 BC, new ground-breaking findings in a recently unearthed archaeological site in Saudi Arabia suggest.

“The procured evidence may potentially debunk a previously established theory that the domestication of horses originated 5500 years ago in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan,” the Vice-President of the Kingdom?s Commission for Tourism and Antiquities announced in a press conference in Jeddah.

?This site shows us clearly, the roots of the domestication of horses 9,000 years ago,” said Ali Al Ghabban, citing human DNA evidence that allowed researchers to date the prehistoric civilization to the New Stone Age.

A number of other artifacts, including handicrafts such as arrowheads, scrapers, grain grinders, tools for spinning and weaving were also unearthed and suggest that the ancient Neolithic society may have had skills that were more diversified than just horse-taming.

“The Al-Maqar civilization is a very advanced civilization of the Neolithic period,? Al-Ghabban noted.

Although humans have been herding horses ever since they came into contact with the animal 50,000 years ago to use their meat, skins and milk, the domestication of horses didn?t come about until much later, becoming widespread in Europe, Asia and North Africa?by 1000 B.C.

“This discovery will change our knowledge concerning the domestication of horses and the evolution of culture in the late Neolithic period,” the Saudi archaeologist added.


This latest archaeological discovery in Saudi Arabia comes as the world?s largest oil exporter aims to step up its tourism industry and diversify its largely oil-dependent economy.

However, the Kingdom may just started to scratch the surface of what is speculated to be an uncovered treasure trove of archaeological remains.

An ?armchair archaeologist? made headlines in February this year for having allegedly discovered nearly 2000 potential archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia without ever having visited the country.

Dr. David Kennedy, a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Western Australia, claimed to have spotted 1977 tombs from the comforts of his office in Perth, Australia, using the high-resolution Satellite-imaging capability of Google Maps.

Kennedy, who led the research project at his university, professed that the aerial viewing service offered by Google could penetrate a ban by the Saudi government that forbids aerial photography of the country due to cultural and religious sensitivities, which has left much of Saudi?s archeology in the dark.

The archaeologist confirmed his findings based on ground view photographs he obtained of a few of the sites that matched structures he has seen in Jordan.

Kennedy further?speculated that there may be up to a million such sites lying unexplored in the depths of the Arabian Peninsula.

Sources: BBC, New Scientist

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