Horses Have Trotted Through Thousands of Years of Human History

by Rose Loos-Austin, Age 12

The history of horses is a long and interesting story that started around 5000 B.C.E.

Around 4500 B.C.E. farming communities sprung up starting in the southwest part of central Asia and the edges of Europe where conditions permitted. Early farmers spent their days growing crops and herding livestock. These early farmers were some of the first to domesticate horses. At first, horses were raised for slaughter. It wasn't until about 500 years later, around 4000 B.C.E., when horses were used as transport for the first time.

Soon after the first wheeled vehicles arose. Horses were selectively bred for desirable features, such as strength, so they could pull these vehicles. By the third millennium, horses were strong enough to pull whole war chariots. With the addition of spoked wheels, chariots were more maneuverable; those who had chariots on their side dominated the battlefield.

Around 2500 B.C.E., the Surabaya people invented bits and bridles which allowed them to ride horses. This helped shepherds herd livestock over large areas of land and paved the way for the rise of nomadic pastoralism in the first millennium (1000 B.C.E.) This way of life would engulf the area for thousands of years. The nomads lived in tents that could easily be disassembled and transported. These tents were made out of animal hide and called yurts. Herds of sheep, horses, camels and goats were moved between the summer and winter pastures, greatly increasing the available land for grazing.

The Cimmerian people of Russia were the first known nomadic power. They rose to prominence in the 900's. Around 200 years later they bumped into the Scythians, another nomadic people, who migrated into the Cimmerian territory in the 700's. The Scythians went to war with the Cimmerians for around thirty years before driving them into Anatolia. Here, the Cimmerians defeated the Phrygia, and Sardis the capital of Lydia. In about 626 they were fought off by the Lydians. The Cimmerians ceased to be mentioned in historical sources after possibly settling in Cappadocia.

The Scythians built a powerful empire stretching from Persian borders to southern Russia. Horse-riding was the key to their military success. It gave them a speed and mobility that amazed their enemies. They were so skilled on horseback that they stopped an invasion by the infamous Persian army in 513 B.C.

[source: A Short History of the World]

This is such a crazy story. – Victoria RuizSennett Middle school (2016-05-19 18:18)
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