Hot and crazy riders: Aegean charioteersand Eurasian horseback riders



Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The horse played a vital role in human history. The relationship between humans and horses (horsemanship) was crucial in multiple aspects. They were one of the transmitters of technologies, ideas, goods, and people. As soon as they appeared, they became part of the economy, a power and prestige symbol, an essential element of mythology. In my previous work, I studied the impact of horsemanship in the transition processes between the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (Klontza-Jaklova 2020). I agree with D. Anthony (2007) and others that the domestication of horses and their use as transport animals represents one of the main civilization progresses. In the present paper, I try to answer why the horse, which promptly became part of the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Late Bronze Age elite package, was used inclusively as a chariot animal by local elites. However, the first horsemen intruding those regions were horseback riders. I argue that this question is impossible to answer without practical knowledge of horsemanship. As an active rider and horse expert, I am convinced that the answer lies in the (dis)ability of the palatial elites to absorb the skills and knowledge necessary for the use of horses quickly. Therefore, they created their own horse culture related to chariots. Horseback riding became common much later and is connected with individual riders forced to improve their skills during the collapse of the palatial civilization. A parallel process was also observed in ancient China (Li et al. 2020). I also argue that the horse is an exceptional animal compared to other domesticated species in many aspects. Horses represented the fastest terrestrial medium for at least four millennia, up to the invention of various engines. But approaching the Bronze Age horse culture, we are captive to approaches based on the breeding tradition rooted in medieval postulates; we look at them as bred horses of the present, which limits our further conclusions about the historical processes of the Bronze Age.
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