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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

On the vast grassland steppes of Eurasia in the Early Iron Age, a new kind of culture emerged in which everything in life centered on one particular animal: the horse. Evidence suggests that if the incubating grasslands had not existed, these horse-cultures may never have developed. Steppe peoples embraced horsemanship with a skill above that of all other societies. Solid boundaries and enough space and grazing to support herds of horses that swelled into the thousands made this possible. These inhabitants also seeded a wide range of profound advances, skills, and beliefs that impacted peoples of both steppe and non-steppe lands in Europe, the Near East, and far eastern Asia. However, while physical and intangible evidence appear to support the hypothesis that some societies outside the steppes may have adopted enough traits to claim a horse-culture heritage, whether they fully developed into such a culture in a non-steppe environment remains open to conjecture.

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