Early Bronze Age people in Syria mated donkeys with wild donkeys to create valuable hybrids that showed a deep knowledge of livestock.
Syrian Tell Ummel-Marra squid skeleton – Glen Schwartz / Johns Hopkins University
The bones of horse-like creatures excavated in Syria’s 4,500-year-old royal tombs are the earliest known hybrids, and DNA sequencing indicates a cross between donkeys and wild donkeys. It has been. Syria.
Eva-Maria Geigl of the University of Paris, France, said the findings showed that the early civilization of Syria today was “extremely technologically advanced.”
In 2006, 25 complete animal skeletons were discovered at a 4,500-year-old royal cemetery called Therum Elmira in northern Syria. Archaeologists look like horses but are confused by the different proportions, and it is believed that horses were not brought to the area until 500 years later.
To understand what these animals are, Geiger and her colleagues sequenced their bone DNA and compared it to the genomes of other horse varieties in the area.
They found that the animal was a hybrid of a domestic donkey and a wild donkey in Syria, the latter extinct a century ago. DNA sequences from wild Syrian donkeys can be analyzed using 19th-century tooth and hair samples placed in an Austrian zoo and 11,000-year-old bone excavated in Turkey.
Researchers believe that these hybrids are examples of “Kungus,” a mysterious horse-like creature with a donkey-like tail that appears in the early Bronze Age royal lizards of Syria and Mesopotamia. increase.
According to clay tablets at the time, Kung was precious and six times more expensive than a donkey. They were used to draw royal vehicles and tanks, and as dowries for royal marriages.
Geigle believes that people in the area may have begun mating with wild donkeys in Syria after discovering that they accidentally mated and produced offspring of the desired nature.
According to Geiger, the wild butt is easy but too slow, but the Syrian wild butt is agile but wild and too aggressive to tame, so the Kunga hybrid could have been balanced. There is sex. Geiger said.
“But it’s not easy to breed them, because we need a special strategy to capture very fast Syrian wild donkeys, bring them to females, and be able to produce hybrids. “She said.
Andy Bennett of the University of Paris, the co-author of the study, said that when horses have introduced to the area about 4,000 years ago, they could have stopped breeding because they could play the same role and breed on their own. Said there is. .. “Kungus is difficult to breed and may not be as good as horses,” he said.