Archaeologists uncover earliest evidence for equid bit wear in the ancient Near East

phys.org | 5/16/2018 | Staff
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An international team of archaeologists has uncovered the earliest example of the use of a bridle bit with an equid (horse family) in the Near East. The discovery provides first evidence of the use of the bit (mouth piece) to control an animal long before the appearance of the horse in the Near East.

Evidence of the bridle bit was derived from the skeleton of a donkey dating to the Early Bronze Age III (approximately 2700 BCE) found at the excavations of the biblical city Gath (modern Tell es-Safi) of the Philistines, the home of Goliath, located in central Israel. The donkey was laid as a sacrificial offering before the construction of a house in a domestic neighborhood.

Team - Archaeologists - Bar-Ilan - University - University

The international team, including archaeologists from Bar-Ilan University, the University of Manitoba (St. Paul's College), University of Saskatchewan (St. Thomas More College), Ariel University and Grand Valley State University published their findings today in the journal PLOS ONE.

"This is significant because it demonstrates how early domestic donkeys were controlled, and adds substantially to our knowledge of the history of donkey (Equus asinus) domestication and evolution of riding and equestrian technology. It is also significant that it was discovered on the remains of an early domestic donkey that was sacrificed probably as an offering to protect what we interpret to be a merchant domestic residence uncovered during our excavations," said Prof. Haskel Greenfield, of the University of Manitoba, the paper's lead author.

View - Area - E - Donkey - Bronze

Vertical aerial view of Area E, where the donkey was found in an Early Bronze Age neighborhood. Credit: Skyview Inc.

"The use of a bridle bit on a donkey during this period is surprising, since it was commonly assumed that donkeys were controlled with nose rings, as depicted in Mesopotamian art," said Prof. Aren Maeir, from Bar-Ilan University's Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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