Archeology: The 4500-year-old tomb hybrids are the earliest known to be bred by humans.

Early Bronze Age people in Syria mated donkeys with wild donkeys to create precious horse-like hybrids and demonstrated a high degree of understanding of animal breeding.


January 14, 2022

Syrian Tell Ummel-Marra horse skeleton

Glen Schwartz / Johns Hopkins University

The bones of horse-like creatures excavated in Syria’s 4500-year-old royal tombs are the earliest known hybrids bred by people, and by DNA sequencing, donkeys and wild donkeys in Syria. It has been shown to be a mating.

This finding suggests that the early civilizations of Syria today are “really technologically advanced.” Eva-Maria Geigl At the University of Paris, France.

In 2006, the complete skeleton of 25 animals was found in a royal burial facility 4500 years ago. Tell Umm El Mara in northern Syria.. Archaeologists were confused because the proportions were different, even though they looked like horses, and it was not thought that horses were introduced to the area until 500 years later.

To figure out what the animal is, Geigle and her colleagues sequenced DNA from their bones and compared it to the genomes of other horse-like species in the area.

They found that the animals were a hybrid of domestic donkeys and wild Syrian donkeys. The cross was extinct in the last century, but DNA sequences are sequenced using 19th-century tooth and hair specimens housed in an Austrian zoo and 11,000-year-old bone dug in Turkey. I was able to.

Researchers believe that hybrid animals are an example of “Kungus,” a mysterious horse-like creature with a donkey-like tail that appears in the royal lizards of Syria and Mesopotamia in the early Bronze Age. ..

According to the clay tablets of the time, Kungas was highly valued and cost six times as much as a donkey. They were used to draw royal vehicles and fighting vehicles, and as dowries for royal marriages.

Geigl believes that people in the region may have begun mating donkeys with wild Syrian donkeys after accidentally mating and giving birth to offspring of the desired quality.

The donkey’s temperament is easy, but it’s too late for the battlefield. The Syrian wild donkey, on the other hand, was fast, but it was too aggressive to tame in the wild, so the Kunga hybrid may have balanced the two.

“But it’s easy to breed very fast Syrian wild donkeys, as they needed special strategies to capture them, take them to female donkeys, and be able to produce hybrids. It wouldn’t have been, “she says.

When horses were introduced to the area about 4000 years ago, the breeding of Kunga probably stopped because the horses played the same role and could breed on their own, the study co-authors said. Andy Bennett At the University of Paris. “Kungus was probably a daunting task to breed and wasn’t as good as a horse,” he says.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abm0218

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