Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cache of Horse Skeletons May be Evidence of Ancient Battle

Haaretz - Israel News - Article: "Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists conducting a salvage dig in the Armenian monastery in Jaffa expected to find artifacts connected to the ancient fortifications of the city. However, a few days ago they were surprised to discover, some 60 centimeters below the monastery floor, no fewer than 10 horse skeletons.

Excavation directors Amit Re'em and Martin Peilstoker said yesterday the horses may have died in battle, and if so, it occurred long before the 17th century, when the monastery was constructed. It was possible, the archaeologists said, that the horses were buried as early as the Hellenistic period, about 2,200 years ago, or in the Early Arab period, 1,500 years ago. The archaeologists assume the horses were buried outside the city wall because of the stench of them decaying.

"So many horse skeletons in one place is rare and special. They may have died in battle or from a plague. Laboratory tests will reveal what kind of horses they were and what they were used for. At the moment we know they were adult males, which suits the theory they were battle horses," Hadas Moto of the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture, who is heading a team examining DNA samples from the remains, said. "

Note: Image is of horse skeletons found in royal tomb in Xinzheng China from about the same time period.