Horse Breeds and Breeding in the Greco-Persian World: 1st and 2nd Millennium BC


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Although there are many publications which discuss the history of the ancient horse, few focus their attention on the origin and development of the various breeds. Most publications examine the horse’s contribution to human history through its role as transport facilitator and military machine, and concentrate mainly on subjects such as the origin and development of chariot and cavalry equipment and changes in military tactics over time. This book examines what happened when humans took the horse from the wild and domesticated it for their own use. This focus was taken as it was felt that the understanding of the huge role which the horse played in human history can only be improved by gaining an understanding of the equally huge role which humans played when they took horses from the wild and, through many hundreds of years of daily interaction, cross-breeding, and training, facilitated the development and spread of many breeds across the ancient world. This book takes as its chronological focus the Greco-Persian world of the second and first millennia BC. This time period was selected for examination as it was during these two millennia that the vital role which the horse was to play in human history became fully apparent. The second millennium BC saw the development of the vast chariot forces which were to form an important part of the armed forces of numerous lands, from Mycenaean Greece in the West to India and China in the far East, while the following millennium saw the gradual replacement of chariots with cavalry forces, which continued to play a vital role in military warfare right up until the beginnings of the twentieth century AD. Part One traces the history of the horse from its evolution to the development and spread of chariot and cavalry forces. Parts Two and Three examine the famous horse-breeding regions of the ancient world and, through an analysis of archaeological, iconographical, and literary evidence, attempts to determine why these regions we

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