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During the 3rd millennium BC, the utility of the horse for warfare is apparent and the association of horses for high status individuals is likely, as warriors of high standing were now sometimes buried along with their own horses (Figure 1). Horse skulls were also sometimes separated and buried separately, suggesting a type of cult around horses may have also developed.<ref>For more information on burial of horses and cults around horses, see: Drews, Robert. 2004. ''Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe''. New York: Routledge.</ref> By the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the horse is referred to in ancient textual sources from the Near East.<ref>For information on some of the earliest historical references to horses, see: Postgate, JN. 1986. “The Equids of Sumer, Again,” In: ''Equids in the Ancient World'', Meadow RH, Ueopmann H-P (Eds.). Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag: Weisbaden, pg. 194-206.</ref>
Figure 1. Horse burials begin to show the importance of horses to societies, in particular the role of horses in warfare (http://www.mikridoxipara-zoni.gr/findings/WagonsAndHorses/images/img002.jpeg)
==Spread of the Horse==
==The Golden Age of the Horse==
While the importance of the horse for warfare became evident in the ancient Near East by the early to mid second millennium BC, and likely earlier in the Eurasian steppes, another important turning point we see happen during the early 1st millennium BC. By this point, horseman were now the elite soldiers of militaries and horses became central to many armies, with charioteers now being replaced (Figure
2). The importance of the horse for military purposes is evident in the numerous ivories now found used to decorate horses.<ref>For more on the importance of elite horseman in the early 1st millennium BC, see: Dezső, Tamás. 2012. The Assyrian Army. 1 1: The Structure of the Neo-Assyrian Army as Reconstructed from the Assyrian Palace Reliefs and Cuneiform Sources Infantry. Antiqua et Orientalia 2. Budapest: Eötvös Univ. Pr.</ref> Horses were now also used for rapid messenger services, similar to the pony express later developed in the United States. Rapid messages sent between distant cities were important for communication within empires and militaries, starting with the Neo-Assyrian Empire but continuing with the Achaemenid Empire.<ref>For information on the utilization of horses for early 1st millennium BC messengers, see: Silverstein, Adam J. 2010. ''Postal Systems in the Pre-Modern Islamic World''. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press, pg. 12.</ref> By the late 1st millennium BC, from around 300 BC, we now see elite horseman utilized in West Asia, Europe, Central Asia, China, and India. The innovation of the stirrup most likely facilitated the spread of horseman and the removal of chariots from the battlefield, as it facilitated the control of horses by riders and also probably made horse handling more widespread. This probably includes more widespread use of the horse for transport as well.<ref>For more information about the stirrup and its innovation for horses, see: Chamberlin, J. Edward. 2006. ''Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations''. New York: BlueBridge, pg. 80.</ref> It is during the 1st millennium BC that horses became increasingly associated with royalty in Asia, in particular Western Asia, and then in Europe as well. Figure 2. By the Neo-Assyrian period in the 9th century BC, elite horseman began to replace chariots in battlefields (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Britishmuseumassyrianrelieftwohorsemennimrud.jpg).
The trend of horseman being among the most elite soldiers of militaries, in fact, persisted until the early 20th century AD, with the innovation of tank warfare. This makes the horse and horseman, in fact, one of the longest serving form of military tool used in armies. The roles of horses also increased as technologies further developed. In addition to warfare, horses in Europe and other locations began to replace oxen more substantially in agriculture in the Medieval period, although forms of this system existed already in ancient periods in the Near East by the 2nd millennium BC. In both Europe and the Near East, the use of padded harnesses enabled horses to more securely pull a plow, which facilitated horses to plow more area and regions and horses were now able to do this work far faster than oxen.<ref>For information on how horses improved Medieval agriculture, see: Zmolek, Michael Andrew. 2013. ''Rethinking the Industrial Revolution: Five Centuries of Transition from Agrarian to Industrial Capitalism in England''. Historical Materialism Book Series, volume 49. Leiden ; Boston: Brill.</ref> Horses became more commonly used as well for transport, as training and utilization of horses improved with greater knowledge.