Check out this 1700-year-old Mongolian saddle which was found in the Urd Ulaan Uneet burial cave — the only burial cave in the region from this era. Every long time reader of this blog knows how much I love saddles and this one is amazing — it’s so perfectly preserved that it’s hard to comprehend it’s age. The saddle is beautifully constructed, although I’m not so sure it would be comfortable. I’ve read that these “hard saddles” were designed because Mongolian horses are quite small, but had to carry adults. The high pommel and cantle kept the rider secure but also keep the footprint of the saddle small enough to not put weight on the horses’ loins. Because the small Mongolian horses carry heavier riders, riders typically swap out horses many times in a day.
This beautifully-preserved saddle was found along with iron bits with horn cheekpieces, a compound bow, arrowheads, a leather quiver with an iron hook, and a wooden container. The finds from this important site have given researchers valuable information about the lives of the people who lived in the area. Plus, the fact that a horse and its belongings was included in the burial site is unique to this cave.
Until this burial site was located, the study of “hard” wooden saddles used by the peoples of Eurasia has been complicated by the poor preservation of these products in archaeological sites dating from the middle of the 1st millennium AD. This saddle appears to be in the same tradition as Yaloman and East Turkestan patterns.
The first saddles with wooden trees appeared in the early part of the first millennium CE in the area of Xiongnu and Xianbei confederations in the Northern part of Central Asia. In comparison to “soft saddles”, this innovation was driven by military purposes as the saddles were more stable and secure for the riders, especially those equipped for battle. This design gave mounted soldiers a considerable advantage and was widely adopted by the Old Turks. They brought the wooden saddle design with them and introduced it to the nomadic cattle-breeders of the region. Interestingly, anthropologists use different saddle designs to track ethnogenetic processes and show the stability of ethno-cultural ties within the societies using the different types of tack.
2 thoughts on “1700-year-old Mongolian saddle Found”
You’re right, it’s in amazing condition, given that it was buried in 320. I’m a student…actually a passionate researcher of the Mongolian tribes (they weren’t all Mongols, not until Genghis Khan united the dozens of warring tribes into one massive tribe) and never thought they’d actually find a burial site. History, in this instance, was written by the losers. so the Mongols get a bad rap. War was war, and the Europeans weren’t used to being the losers. There’s a lot of lurid baloney attributed to the Mongols. I read a website recently that said the mongols killed 40 million people. Well, t hat’s just nonsense, there were diseases like the bubonic plague that ran through Europe and were blamed on the Mongols. The losers, in the case of Eastern Europe, of course painted the Mongols as barbarians because they were the only ones who wrote down history (and usually slanted it their way). However…Genghis Khan was fairly egalitarian for a warlord. He forbade wife stealing, theft of any sort, instituted a messenger system that the later day Pony Express was a direct copy of, allowed the people he conquered to keep their religions, their ways of speech, gave women the right to own property, produced a set of laws, (called the Yasa) that was the first in the region, insisted that children..both male and female..learn to read and write. The man who mistreated or abused a horse was punished. Anyone who stole was beheaded…thus making all of Eurasia safe for trade, and I’m sure we have all heard of the Silk Roads. They came into being after the Khans made it safe to travel from the east coast of Eurasia and China all the way to Europe.
It’s sad to say that to this day, the Mongols are mistreated by the Chinese, who are insisting that Genghis Khan was chinese..(he wasn’t. He was Mongolian. His mother had gray eyes, he had green eyes, something no Chinese has), are suppressing Uighurs and forcing them into concentration camps, and in general, because the Mongolians still remarkably honest and truthful in dealings with anybody, are taken advantage of.
Great information. Thank you for filling in the history.