Dressed in a hide coat, wool pants, and leather boots, the rider was buried with her saddle “placed on her buttocks as if she was seated on it,” the team note. And it clearly isn’t just for show: the saddle shows “[o]bvious traces of repair,” they write, showing that it was “intensively used and maintained” throughout its lifetime.
Recently, an international archaeological team discovered the earliest known saddle at an excavation site in China. The saddle was found in a tomb in a cemetery in Yanghai, Xinjiang, China. The tomb was built for a common woman who was wearing what seems to be a 'saddle' - positioned so it looks as if the deceased person was still sitting upon it - as if in life.
Research shows the tomb owner and saddle are from about 2,700 years ago. Previous research has found that the domestication of horses first occurred around 6,000 years ago, although during the initial stages of domestication, the animals were used solely as a source of meat and milk. It is thought that horse riding took another 1,000 years to develop. Shortly thereafter, riders began looking for ways to cushion the forces of riding.
Researchers believe saddles likely originated as pads strapped to a horse's back. The saddle found is constructed externally from cowhide and is internally padded using deer and camel hair - as well as straw filling. This saddle was designed to assist riders sit with greater stability whilst sat on horseback - so that arrows could be fired from a bow with greater accuracy - whether the horse was standing still or engaged in movement.
There are no stirrups on this Xinjiang saddle - as is to be expected. However, a simple stirrup has been found in ancient India dating to the 2nd century BCE - but stirrups were not used by the Greeks or Romans and did not appear in Europe until the 8th century CE. This saddle found in China predates the ancient saddles previously found in the Central and Western Eurasian Steppes. The earliest known saddles date back to between the 5th-3rd centuries BCE - leaving researchers to conclude that China is the earliest known civilization in the world to have designed, made and used saddles.
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English Language Text:
2,700-Year-Old Saddle Found In Ancient Chinese Tomb Is Oldest Ever Discovered
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.