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CENTAURO
Equid introduction, hybridisation and agricultural intensification in the Ebro valley from the late Neolithic to the Iron Age
PID2020-113369RJ-100

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Introduction

CENTAURO aims to evaluate the importance and impact of equids on the development of the local prehistoric economies of the Ebro valley. Ebro valley has provided exceptional  archaeological evidence showing an intense interaction between human and equines during the Late Neolithic, and incipient horse breeding in the Early Iron Age as part of early urbanism and fortified power centres.

This project will analyse equid bone remains from several archaeological sites in the north-eastern of Iberia (present-day Aragon and Catalonia) between the Late Neolithic to the Iron Age (2900 cal BC - 200 BC). Through an innovative and multidisciplinary approach, CENTAURO will analyse changes in the management, diet and mobility patterns of equids over the long term and on a territorial scale. 

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Late Neolithic

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Early Iron Age

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Iberian period

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Equids are highly versatile species. Current research suggests that the first domestic horses appeared in the Eurasian steppes about 5,000 years ago. Since then, and throughout recent history, equids have undertaken multiple tasks. Many authors have delved into the questions of territorialisation and political emergence and how horses became essential prestige goods in the context of social hierarchy and distinction. But the introduction of the donkey in the NE of Iberia, which made it possible to carry out different hybrids such as mules and hinnies, is still largely unknown.

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RESEARCH QUESTIONS

CENTAURO is interested in the evolution of equine livestock management within the broader framework of livestock evolution and the introduction of new equine species and breeds.

The project will answer the following key questions:

  • When did the first cases of equine management take place among the communities of NE Iberia?

  • Can we identify changes in equine management between the Late Neolithic and Iron Age?

  • When did the introduction of new equine species (donkeys, hybrids and new horse breeds) take place in the study area? What were the routes of diffusion?

  • Is it possible to identify cultural changes from the study of the evolution of equine management and use?

METHODOLOGY

To answer these questions, we will use a combination of zooarchaeological data, advanced biomolecular archaeological techniques and ethnographic studies. The following analytical methods will be applied to answer specific questions concerning equine management, acquisition and circulation:

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Host Institution

CENTAURO is a project led by the GIP (Prehistoric Research Group) of the University of Lleida (UdL), in close collaboration with the University's Department of Animal Sciences. 
The UdL has an international projection and is also strongly anchored in its territory, especially in professional training in the field of agriculture and livestock. CENTAURO is a commitment to the future that aims to make visible and claim the potential of universities located in rural areas in the study of animal husbandry and in establishing a dialogue between archaeology and the current challenges of the rural world.

 

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