DNA of 2,500-yr-old horses to be analysed

Himalayan News Service

Xi’an, January 11:

Chinese and British scientists are planning DNA analysis of 12 skeletons of horses unearthed from the burial ground of a prominent duke who lived more than 2,500 years ago in China, reports Xinhua.

Archaeologists 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, spinal columns 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 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.

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 Tomb of Duke Jinggong (577-537 BC) of the Qin Kingdom in Fengxiang county in Shaanxi province, 170 km west of Xi’an.