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Symbolic equids and Kushite state formation: a horse burial at Tombos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2018

Sarah A. Schrader*
Affiliation:
Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology, P.O. Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands
Stuart Tyson Smith
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Anthropology, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
Sandra Olsen
Affiliation:
The University of Kansas, Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
Michele Buzon
Affiliation:
Purdue University, Department of Anthropology, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
*
*Author for correspondence (Email: s.a.schrader@arch.leidenuniv.nl)

Abstract

The recent discovery of a well-preserved horse burial at the Third Cataract site of Tombos illuminates the social significance of equids in the Nile Valley. The accompanying funerary assemblage includes one of the earliest securely dated pieces of iron in Africa. The Third Intermediate Period (1050–728 BC) saw the development of the Nubian Kushite state beyond the southern border of Egypt. Analysis of the mortuary and osteological evidence suggests that horses represented symbols of a larger social, political and economic movement, and that the horse gained symbolic meaning in the Nile Valley prior to its adoption by the Kushite elite. This new discovery has important implications for the study of the early Kushite state and the formation of Kushite social identity.

Type
Research
Copyright
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2018 

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