The origin of domestic horses clarified

Scientists analyzed DNA from the remains of the first domestic horses, and found that most likely they did not come from the Anatolian peninsula, as previously assumed, but were brought there from the Eurasian steppe in the Bronze Age. The work was published in the journal Science Advances.

The domestication of horses around 5.5 thousand years ago changed the lives of people forever, having a huge impact on movement, trade and warfare. Despite the important role of this event, it is still unclear where, when and how many times horses were tamed. The most widespread belief is that the first domestic horses originate from the Anatolia Peninsula or Asia Minor, located in the territory of modern Turkey. In recent years, the discovery of horse remains in well-preserved archaeological sites in Anatolia and neighboring regions, as well as advances in paleogenetic methods, have made it possible to study in detail the origins of domestic horses in this part of Western Asia.

Studies of the remains of ancient horses carried out by an international team of scientists have shown that, most likely, they were brought to Anatolia and the nearby Caucasian region from the Eurasian steppe in the Bronze Age (about II millennium BC). In the course of the research, scientists analyzed more than 100 horse remains from eight settlements in central Anatolia and six settlements in the Caucasus, dating mainly to the Early Neolithic and Iron Age (9th – 1st millennium BC). Scientists performed morphological and paleogenetic analyzes, and also carefully studied mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome DNA and DNA markers responsible for coat color. They found that the genetic lines still present in the domestic horse genome suddenly appeared around the 2nd millennium BC, rather than evolving gradually over time, as would be expected if these changes had occurred in Anatolia. …

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