The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

The Noua on horses? Rethinking the hypothesis of a horseback riding culture


Bioarchaeology, ArchaeoTek

Thursday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

The relationship between humans and horses has been important throughout history; it is a relationship that revolutionized travel and warfare. Because horse graves and bronze horse gear have been found within Noua sites, archaeologists have made the hypothesis that the Noua were a horseback riding culture. Individuals within a horse riding culture will exhibit certain indicators in the form of biomechanical bone changes and evidence for more trauma of the type associated with horseback riding than individuals from a culture where horses were not present or not used for riding. Using skeletal remains from known Noua cemetery, we tried to determine the degree to which, or indeed if at all, this specific population engaged in regular equestrian activities. Taken together the pathological along with the biomechanical indicators seem to indicate that habitual riding was not practiced by the individuals in this sample. Thus we propose that the individuals in this specific sample were not riding horses. As for the occurrence of horse equipment among the Noua, an explanation may be sought in the fact that the equipment was unused and may therefore have been created for trade. The Noua were a metal working culture and therefore it is not unrealistic to infer that they used bronzes as trade goods.

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