Oldest saddle discovered at burial site in northwest China
The saddle was buried in a woman's tomb who was buried in the Yanghai cemetery site in northwest China’s Turfan Basin.
A well-preserved, soft leather saddle discovered in northwest China dates to between 727 and 396 BCE, possibly making it the oldest saddle ever found, according to a recent study.
Researchers described the saddle as featuring two stuffed, wing-shaped hides sewn together along the outer edges and separated by a gullet-like spacer in the middle.
It also has lens-shaped support elements that resemble the knee and thigh rolls of modern saddles.
MUMMY BY NATURE: HOW THE DESERT HEAT PRESERVED DEAD BODIES IN PREHISTORIC EGYPT
The saddle was buried in a woman's tomb in the Yanghai cemetery site in northwest China’s Turfan Basin. Radiocarbon dating the specimen to 727-396 BCE.
For comparison, the oldest known saddle was found north of the Turfan Basin in the Tuekta archaeological mounds in southern Russia. It dates to 430-420 BCE.
This means that the saddle found in the Yanghai cemetery site may have come from the same or earlier period as the Tuekta saddle.
Researchers added that the Yanghai saddle was less complex than the saddle discovered in an elite burial in Tuekta. Additionally, it was made from inexpensive materials and used by a common woman.
"The lack of elaborate decorative applications together with traces of wear and repair spots, some of which were executed in a simpler and cruder way, imply that the saddle was an everyday item maintained by the user," researchers said.
They noted that the saddle might have come from horse-riding pastoralists and was bestowed to the woman found in the Yanghai cemetery for her afterlife.