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What can't you learn from horse bones?
stone tools

These stone tools were found at Krasnyi Yar.
Sandra Said
Horse bones don't tell the whole story. When other species, like the dog or the pig, are domesticated, scientists can usually see a change in the bones.

When scientists compare the skeletons of wild and domesticated horses, we see virtually no change in their size or skull shape. So we can't use horse skeletons to identify early horse domestication.

What we have to do instead is to take a holistic approach. In other words, we look at every aspect of the Botai settlement and the artifacts within it.

And my idea is that, if you cannot see domestication in the horse skeleton itself, then perhaps you can look at how the domestication of the horse changed humans. So we look at how the humans changed their behavior, settling down in large, permanent villages.

We try to imagine how they could live in such large villages year-round if they were just hunting wild horses. They would need a steady supply of meat. We look at the stone tools they were using—how they were made and what materials they used. Then we look at the distance that they travel to get things like stone, which is very heavy. They would need packhorses to carry that heavy load a long distance.