Mar 5, 2009
It's pretty hard to milk a wild mare. So researchers attempting to determine whether ancient Botai in northern Kazakhstan had domesticated horses tested their pottery for evidence that they were as fond as their modern descendants of mare's milk (you can see [left] a modern mare being milked by a Kazakh woman). Their finding, published today in Science: they were—pushing horse domestication to at least 5,500 years ago.
Archaeologist Alan Outram of the University of Exeter in England and his colleagues tested Botai cooking vessels and found clear evidence of mare's milk in nine of them. This constitutes strong proof of domestication, according to geochemist Rosemary Capo of the University of Pittsburgh, who analyzed samples from another Botai site known as Krasnyi Yar, because wild horses don't typically tolerate milking.
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