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The Land of Beautiful Horses

15 August 2012

Excavations at Guvercinkaya in eastern Anatolia have uncovered the fossilised remians of animals such as lions and panthers, as well as two species of horses. This means such animals once lived in the region – now largely dry and not the kind of habitat we might associate with them. The tumulus goes back to between 5220 and 4750BC it is estimated, when a distinctly different climate regime, the mid Holocene Warm Period, was in full flow -much warmer than today and giving a lie to global warming having a negative impact on the natural world. The story is at http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/guvercinkaya-tumulu… … and it adds, when the Persians invaded the region and saw the native horses, which presumably still survived, nearly 5000 years afterwards, they called it Cappadocia – which means 'land of beautiful horses' – and they should know, being a horse mounted people with origins on the steppes. There were also, it seems, lots of deer in eastern Anatolia – which indicates it was well wooded. All this seems to verify that in the Bronze and Iron ages Western Asia was a much more hospitable place in which to live. The Egyptians, in the Late Bronze period, mentions a surviving pocket of elephants – and they eat a lot of vegetation. The Assyrians and the contemporary Biblical World infer lions were a common fact of life in Western Asia and nothing out of the ordinary. They were probably hunted into extinction. Then we have the Biblical reference to horses and the Hittites – are they the beautiful horses once again and not horses brought from the steppes and bred by specialists with an origin in the steppes. If horses were common in eastern Anatolia why not in Arabia – when it was green and verdant. Do Arabian horses necessarily have an origin on the steppes?

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