Subject: Speaker Series - William Taylor - Nov 21st, Monday, 5:30 PM, Natsagdorj library

ACMS Speaker Series

The Origins of Horse Herding and Transport in the Eastern Steppe 

Speaker: William Taylor

5:30 PM, MONDAY, NOV 21st, 2016, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

         In the dry steppes of eastern Eurasia, domestic horses (E. caballus) provide the economic and cultural foundations of nomadic life. With no written records and sparse archaeological data, the ecological context of the first horse herding and transport – and its role in the formation of nomadic pastoral societies – is poorly understood. Some of the earliest evidence for domestic horses in the region come from small ritual horse burials found at stone monuments and burials known as deer stones and khirigsuurs, which date to the late second millennium BCE. Archaeozoological investigations reveal that these people selectively bred horses, practicing sophisticated herd management and equine dentistry. Analysis of anthropogenic changes to the equine skull indicate that these animals were bridled and used for transport, and may have engaged in early mounted horseback riding. Finally, a precision radiocarbon model suggests a rapid expansion of domestic horse use across Mongolia around ca. 1200 BCE. This expansion occurred in the context of climate amelioration, concurrent with both major changes in ritual practice and the spread of horses to new parts of the continent. These results provide compelling links between the adoption of horseback riding, new ecological opportunities, and the development of mobile pastoralism in the Mongolian steppe. Future research will explore the subject of when and why other domestic animals were adopted in Mongolia, and investigate the effects of horse riding on mobility and interaction across eastern Eurasia. 

Co-Sponsored by the American Cultural and Information Center, Ulaanbaatar
About the Presenter: William Taylor

Born and raised in western Montana, William Taylor has been conducting archaeological research on ancient horse use in Mongolia since 2011. A 2015-16 Fulbright Student Research at the National Museum of Mongolia, Mr. Taylor has previously conducted research as an ACMS Library and Summer Research Fellow. He received his M.S. in Anthropology/Archaeology at the University of New Mexico in 2013, and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Archaeology at UNM. He graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College in 2011, where he studied International Relations with a concentration in Archaeology. William's research has been recognized and supported by the National Geographic Young Explorer’s Program, the National Science Foundation, the Society for Archaeological Sciences, the International Council for Archaezoology, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).   

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Thank you to the American Corner and the Natsagdorj Library for sponsoring this event.


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