Horses appear to have been tamed much earlier than previously thought, according to new archaeological evidence.
The new evidence suggests horses were used by the Botai culture in northern Kazakhstan more than 5,500 years ago.
It was perviously thought that horse was first domesticated around the time of the Bronze Age (approximately 4,000+ years ago) which quickly spread around the world.
Analysis of ancient bones found in northern Kazakhstan showed that the horses were a similar size and shape to the domesticated horses from the Bronze Age, and evidence of damage to the mouth and teeth suggest riding bits were probably used to harness the animals.
The scientists also analysed the remains of food and drink in pottery and found traces of horse meat and milk.
Horse milk is still drunk in Kazakhstan, the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia, where it is usually fermented into an mild alcoholic yogurt drink.
I was fortunate enough to try some fermented mares milk in 2005 while in Mongolia searching for the Death Worm. It had a slightly sour flavor with a bite from the mild alcoholic. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t recommend putting in on your corn flakes!
Source: BBC, Horses tamed earlier than thought
Botai Culture (Carnegie Museum of Natural History)