One of our biggest finds has been the identification of corrals. These were areas where the Botai people kept
horses. On the open plains, they had to have places where horses were contained when not grazing.
To identify these corrals, we first look for a series of postholes where fence posts were once planted. These postholes formed large, circular areas within the village.
Then geochemists analyzed the soil. They found high levels of phosphates and nitrogen inside those areas. This chemical evidence is a sign of a concentration of manure. And because the
Botai people had no other domestic livestock, it had to be horse manure.
We also observed another kind of evidence: there was a change in the way the Botai people made stone tools. When they were nomadic horse hunters, they would make very lightweight
blades at the place where stone was found. But then, they began bringing stone in large quantities from the nearest stone source, which was 14 kilometers (8.6 miles) away, back to
the settlement. And they made heavier, chunkier stone tools. They may have used packhorses to carry stones such long distances.
We've also found many examples of a tool called a thongsmoother. It's simply a horse jaw with the teeth removed. It is used to straighten and stretch long strips of rawhide. Horse
herders really need these strips for bridles, lassos, whips, and other ways of controlling horses. We've found so many of these artifacts, we know that they were probably
controlling the horses.