Ancient Wonders

Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most powerful rulers, had efficiency in mind when his stables were designed and built. Sloping troughs collected horse urine for use as fertilizer. The 3,000-year-old stable complex that housed his hundreds of army horses was excavated recently by German-Egyptian archaeologists northeast of Cairo, on the edge of the Nile Delta. The 18,300-square-foot facility is the largest and best-preserved ancient stable complex in the Middle East.

A discovery in the Altai Mountains of Central Asia has shown the partnership of ancient horse and man. Twelve horses were found in full-dress regalia with their skin, hair, harnesses, and saddles intact near a Scythian tomb of two nobles. The frigid temperatures of the area aided in the preservation of the bodies. The horses were buried side by side on a bed of birch bark and wore harnesses carved with animal figures, and saddles decorated with gold leaf, leather, and felt, which rested on red saddle blankets. The horses also appear to have worn ornaments on their heads which related to animals in Scythian art.

Excavating proved very difficult because of rising temperatures this past summer. The equines were chopped out in ice blocks, rushed into a freezer truck, and  sent to a laboratory in Almaty, the Kazakh capital, for study and biological tests.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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