People living in the Middle East during theBronze Agerode donkeys long before horses were introduced to the region, a new archaeological find has suggested.
Researchers uncoveredevidence suggesting they wereridden as early as the third millenniumBCE.
Excavation inthe courtyard of a house inthe now abandonedvillage of Telles-Safiin centralIsrael, found the remains of an ancient domesticated donkey whose teeth appeared to show evidence a bit had been used to control it.
Usingmicroscopes to examine them, they foundthat enamel on its lower molars had been worn down where normally they would be even, and polished.
A bit can be used to give riders more control over an animals direction, while a simple tether would allow it to be led, keep itfrom wandering.
Radiocarbon dating suggested this animal had been buried in around 2700 BC, some 700 years before horses appeared in the area.
It provides a clue to how the animals were used in the Early Bronze Ageand dates to some 1,000 years before a previous study found unprecedented evidence of the use of equid harnessing equipment in donkeys.
Donkeyremains found in TelHaror, also in Israel,and described in 2013, were thought to date from the Middle Bronze Age, between the years of 1700 and 1550BCE.
IsraelsBar-IlanUniversity said in a statementthat the latestfind emphasises donkeys significance as domesticated animals even at this early date.
It added: Thisdevelopment continues to impact the political, social, and economic life of many third world countries today where donkeys continue to be an important means of transportation.”