Skip to comments.Scientists To Start DNA Analysis Of Ancient Horse Skeletons
Posted on 01/10/2005 3:07:32 PM PST by blam
Scientists to start DNA analysis of ancient horse skeletons
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-10 15:19:28
XI'AN, Jan. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese and British scientists are planning for the DNA analysis of 12 horse skeletons unearthed from the burial ground of a prominent duke who lived more than 2,500 years ago in northwestern Shaanxi Province.
Archeologists with Beijing University and Cambridge University have used a professional database to process data collected from the skeletons, including the size and weight of the skulls, spinalcolumns and limbs.
A Cambridge laboratory will be entrusted to carry out the DNA analysis, after the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China gives the green-light, said a source with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archeology who declined to be named.
The DNA test will hopefully find out more facts about ancient horses, including their skeletal bone mineral density and other trace elements, which may shed light on how horses were fed and tamed in history, he said.
Experts say this will be the first comprehensive study on ancient Chinese horses, though sacrificial horses and carts are often found in north China.
The 12 horse skeletons were unearthed from two sacrificial tombs close to the No. 1 Tomb of Duke Jinggong (577 BC - 537 BC) of the Qin Kingdom in Fengxiang County, 170 km west of the provincial capital Xi'an.
The Kingdom of Qin was one of the major kingdoms during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 475 BC).
The duke's tomb was excavated between 1976 and 1986, during which time archaeologists found 3,500 valuable cultural relics even though it has been broken into by thieves and robbers more than 200 times.
Its funeral chamber, 24 meters from the surface, 16 meters long,5.7 meters wide and 4.2 meters high, was separated by a wooden partition into two parts. The chamber to the east was designed in imitation of the duke's office and rear chamber to the west as hisdining room.
Fengxiang County is home to a graveyard where 17 other Qin dukes are at rest. Enditem
That's just great. We can do DNA analysis on the horses but the Chinese Government won't let anyone do DNA analysis on the Caucasian mummies found there. (Some things they just don't want to know?)
Genetics can certainly be political.
I always wonder why for every post about a scientific discovery, there are 100 announcing some future, or ongoing investigation or speculating about future possible discoveries.
How, pray tell, is a DNA test going to show this 'stuff'?
I predict this study will prove they were horses.
Not only all that, it will prove they were queer horses who voted democrat.
I forgot to add, it'll also show they were killed by an ancestor of Bush.
"Hey Wilbur, how 'bout some Chinese tonight?" he says in his best Mr. Ed imitation...
The horse character is also the first of three characters used to spell Karl Marx's name (Ma-ke-si). That makes sense: Marxists are horse's asses.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest -- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
The truth is political.
I'll bet the thieves left behind about 3,490 pottery shards.
Very interesting. I note that the dateline is Xian. I visited China in 1983 (including Xian) and Xian (site of the ancient clay soldiers) is the only place that I would want to see again. It was fascinating.
Every soldier has a different face and uniform. I grew up in California and went to school with many Chinese friends. I recognized some of my childhood friends in the faces of those clay soldiers.
The other interesting thing about the excavations in Xian was that some of the soldiers in the clay honor guard were obviously NOT Chinese. They appeared to be Indian, Turkish, etc.
Chinese horses are different in appearance from other countries -- sort of small in stature and stocky -- thick. They remind me a little of Irish ponies (which are not really ponies, but smaller horses.)
I'd love to be around when they announce their findings. It will be interesting to learn if this study sheds any light on the travels and trading practices of these ancient people.
The current theory is that horses migrated to Asia from North America three times.
The first two migrations are thought to have died out, with the third surviving through domestication in Asia and Europe.
Meanwhile, the original North American horse became extinct, only to return with the Spanish explorers.
Horses are only 25% as efficient as cows at digesting grasses/hay and consequently they are closer to the brink of starvation in 'hard-times.'
Updated: 2005-01-11 22:28
An archaeological project will be carried out to conduct a DNA analysis on a dozen horse skeletons unearthed from ancient burial tombs in Shaanxi, an inland province in Northwest China.
A file photo shows the horse skeletons and carts buried as early as between 1100 B.C. to 700 B.C near Xi'an,capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. [newsphoto]
Just approved by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the effort is set to begin next month.
A joint Chinese and British team of scientists from the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Peking University and Cambridge University will undertake the project, said Li Gang, a Shaanxi Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage official.
Archaeologists have used a professional database to process and date material collected from the skeletons, including the size and weight of the skulls, spinal columns and limbs.
A Cambridge laboratory will be entrusted to carry out the DNA analyses, and the samples from the unearthed horses will be sent to Britain next month, said Sun Anna, a researcher with Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology.
"These unearthed skeletons were chosen as samples especially because they are more fresh and without any pollution," Li said.
These horses were unearthed last June from the burial site of a prominent duke who lived more than 2,500 years ago. They are well protected, Li said.
The tests should provide information such as the horses' bone mineral density and other trace elements, which may shed light on how the animals were fed and tamed, archaeologists say.
Experts say this will be the first comprehensive study on ancient Chinese horses, though sacrificial horses and carts are often found in northern China.
The find was made in Fengxiang County, 170 kilometres west of the provincial capital Xi'an, in the No 1 tomb of Duke Jinggong (577 BC-537 BC).
The Kingdom of Qin was one of the major power during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-475 BC).
The duke's tomb was excavated between 1976 and 1986, during which time archaeologist found 3,500 valuable cultural relics even though it has been broken into by thieves and robbers more than 200 times.
Its funeral chamber, 24 metres from the surface, 16 metres long, 5.7 metres wide and 4.2 metres high, was separated by a wooden partition into two parts.
The chamber to the east was designed in imitation of the duke's office and rear chamber to the west as his dining room.
Fengxiang County is home to the graveyard where 17 other Qin dukes are at rest.
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