Armenian archaeologists discovered an ancient burial site containing a large number of animal remains, including those of battle horses.
The head of the Cultural Inheritance Research Center of Armenia Hakob Simonyan explained that the bones of domesticated horses unearthed in Nerkin Naver are the most ancient in the world. These particular horses have been used in battle.
“This find dates back to the 26-25th centuries BC. This place is the most ancient burial site of horses known today. This fact is important not only to Armenia but whole West Asia as well,” said Simonyan.
The domestication and use of horses have been closely connected with ancient Armenia. Antique writers and chroniclers often referred to Armenia as a country of masterful horse breeding.
Ancient Greek Strabo historian described Armenian cavalry as follows:
“Artavasdes (king of the Armenians), at the time when he invaded Media, showed, apart from the rest of the cavalry, six thousand horses drawn up in battle array covered with complete armor.”
Horses are considered the sacred animals of Armenians and are connected with a sun deity. Ancient Greek chroniclers have recorded horse sacrifice in Armenia. Particularly, Xenophon writes:
“Then Xenophon took the village chief back for the time to his own household, and gave him a horse that he had got when it was rather old, to fatten up and sacrifice, for he understood that it was sacred to the Sun-god. He did this out of fear that the horse might die, for it had been injured by the journey.”
Over the decades, 2nd-millennium bronze horse bridles have been discovered in almost every single region of Armenia, not to mention convincing evidence of Bronze Age cavalry. One of the most important artifacts is a model of a bronze chariot found in Loriberd in the vicinity of the town of Stepanavan. It demonstrates battle scenes with cavalry, light- and heavy-armed infantry, as well as transport units.
The image below shows the ancient bridle discovered in the burial ground. This bridle, which is the earliest artifact of its kind known today, has been made with ancient forging techniques.