September 12, 2009

Independent horse domestication event in China

See also: Origin of ancient Chinese horses from ancient DNA

Anim Genet. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.2009.01950.x

Multiple maternal origins of native modern and ancient horse populations in China

Lei CZ, Su R, Bower MA, Edwards CJ, Wang XB, Weining S, Liu L, Xie WM, Li F, Liu RY, Zhang YS, Zhang CM, Chen H.

Summary To obtain more knowledge of the origin and genetic diversity of domestic horses in China, this study provides a comprehensive analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) D-loop sequence diversity from nine horse breeds in China in conjunction with ancient DNA data and evidence from archaeological and historical records. A 247-bp mitochondrial D-loop sequence from 182 modern samples revealed a total of 70 haplotypes with a high level of genetic diversity. Seven major mtDNA haplogroups (A-G) and 16 clusters were identified for the 182 Chinese modern horses. In the present study, nine 247-bp mitochondrial D-loop sequences of ancient remains of Bronze Age horse from the Chifeng region of Inner Mongolia in China (c. 4000-2000a bp) were used to explore the origin and diversity of Chinese modern horses and the phylogenetic relationship between ancient and modern horses. The nine ancient horses carried seven haplotypes with rich genetic diversity, which were clustered together with modern individuals among haplogroups A, E and F. Modern domestic horse and ancient horse data support the multiple origins of domestic horses in China. This study supports the argument that multiple successful events of horse domestication, including separate introductions of wild mares into the domestic herds, may have occurred in antiquity, and that China cannot be excluded from these events. Indeed, the association of Far Eastern mtDNA types to haplogroup F was highly significant using Fisher's exact test of independence (P = 0.00002), lending support for Chinese domestication of this haplogroup. High diversity and all seven mtDNA haplogroups (A-G) with 16 clusters also suggest that further work is necessary to shed more light on horse domestication in China.

11 comments:

THE_TRUTH said...

Did the Chinese really domesticate the horse ?

“In the presented study, the remains of 9 ancient Bronze Age horse skeletons from North East Asia from the Chifeng region of Inner Mongolia (c. 4000-2000a bp) were used to explore the origin and diversity of Chinese modern horses and the phylogenetic relationship between ancient and modern horses. The nine ancient horses, measured against 182 modern samples, carried seven haplotypes with rich genetic diversity, which were clustered together with modern individuals among haplogroups A, E and F. The modern domestic horse samples and ancient horse data support the multiple origins of domestic horses in North East Asia (I’ve removed the state of China). This study supports the argument that multiple successful events of horse domestication, including separate introductions of wild mares into the domestic herds, may have occurred in antiquity, and that North East Asia (again I’ve removed the state of China) cannot be excluded from these events.”

I just had to make alteration, and make comment below on the attached paper on horse domestication, as the article implies that the people of the region studied, were, well, Chinese, which of course they were not. Historically, the idea of there being a Chinese people developed in the Ming Dynasty. However, the ancestors of the Ming Chinese were of course the Han people of 206BC to 220AD.

Anyway, without doubt, the Han people did have domesticated horses. However, the horses they had were obtained from steppe tribes, such as the Wu Hu (五胡) and and Xiongnu (匈奴) pastoral tribes, which in latter centuries become known as the mongolians. You see, the horse is a large plains migratory mammal, which was domesticated by the Wu Hu (五胡) and Xiongnu (匈奴) people to assist in their own migratory economy, as they followed other plains mammals such as the horse, reindeer, caribou and bison. The horse was more than a transport animal to the steppes tribes, providing in addition, meat, milk and leather/skins (used for clothing and rope). The Han never themselves domesticated the horse, as the Han people lived an agricultural life economy, with a diet dominated by millet, rice, and wheat.

In conclusion, the Chinese people never domesticated the horse. If domestication did occur, this feat was achieved by a ancient northern mongolian tribes of unknown ethnicity and language.

Let me add, that I find it off walking around hollywood road, looking at all the antique shops, seeing Han Dynasty bronze horses, with thin bodies and long legs. This is impossible, as the Arabian horse did not find its way to China until possibly the Tang dynasty. In truth, the Han horse of 206BC - 220AD was short legged and had a stocky body, a perfect body plan for a mammal living in an environment with a cold arctic climate.

I wonder how many dumb stupid foreigners have bought fake antiques, especially the famous long legged thin bodied Han Bronze Horse.

What a scam.

hjernespiser said...

I suspect that by "China" and "Chinese", they are referring to the modern Zhonghua identity and territory. We don't have a good translation in English. But I agree, it is completely ridiculous and wholly revisionist to be extending modern ideology into the past.

terryt said...

Thanks Dienekes. This is the sort of post that makes your blog so interesting.

Although the authors mention wild horse contributions to the mtDNA they don't say if this mtDNA is related to that of present Mongolian wild horses. I understand that Mongolian and domestic horses have a different number of chromosomes, although quite capable of forming fertile hybrids.

I'm sure that multiple centres of horse domestication are quite possible. Once you've seen someone doing something it is usually reasonably easy to try it yourself.

Derk said...

For the record, the Chifeng Region of Inner Mongolia has been part the Chinese cultural sphere for thousands of years. The neolithic pre-dynastic Chinese Hongshan Culture was centered in the Chifeng Region. So the people in that region have been historically Chinese.

THE_TRUTH said...

The Chifeng reagon actually lies north of the Beijing "Great Wall", in barbarian territory, and of course, outside the border of any ancient Chinese state pre-Chin/Han Dynasty. Since the samples taken represent the period (c. 4000-2000a bp), and since we can all agree that the people of this particular part of North East Asia, did not consider themselves "Chinese", I really do question any claim that any historical tribes or cultures, predating the idea of a "Chinese State", can be claimed as being Chinese.

The same mistake is made when classifying the Liao people (The Liao Dynasty: 915AD –1125AD), as being Chinese, or the term "Cathay" as being ancient China, which it was not. The Liao were Kitan Tartars, not Chinese.

Maju said...

Thanks for that clarification, The Truth. I was thinking the same: that by "China" they actually meant Mongolia or somewhere nearby.

pconroy said...

Truth,

I see this research and similar coming out of China, as part of a propaganda war that tries to make large areas to the North and West of historical China, Chinese.

Can anyone doubt that the Chinese authorities are funding or encouraging these types of studies in some way?

It's clear they have their eyes on the vast oil and gas reserves of Siberia... so lands and peoples that were always considered barbaric are now "Chinese".

terryt said...

I have no doubt at all that you are correct, pconroy.

Derk said...

I think that the term Chinese is basically equivalent to how the word European is used.

Europe is a geographic construct. It didn't exist until some geographers decided to arbitrary divide the Eurasian plate. The people living with in Europe in the neolithic didn't identify with being European; yet in the modern context they are considered European.

The Han ethnic group is a combination of ethnic groups from all over East Asia, including people from the region that is now Inner Mongolia.

Also saying that everyone north of the Great Wall was a barbarian is a gross simplification of the situation; especially considering that the walls that were considered the Great Wall are found in a 400 mile wide band across northern China, which sometimes include Inner Mongolia and sometimes don't. There were always Chinese people north of the wall and there were always 'barbarians' south of the wall.

pconroy said...

I think that the term Chinese is basically equivalent to how the word European is used.

No, it would be like calling all dwellers of the North European plain Germans, and saying that Germany extended from the Maas to the Memel.

This is of course what German fascist actually said, and we know the consequences of that...

THE_TRUTH said...

"There were always Chinese people north of the wall and there were always 'barbarians' south of the wall."

Well maybe. But of course, such economic migration would have been no different to a Chinese person living in San francisco. There again, if 2nd or third Chinese migrants, stayed north of the Great Wall, in Kitan Tartar territory, changes are they would have assimilated.

When it come to the extent of the Great Wall. Pre-Han Empire, the wall actually represented different attempts by North East Asian States, to keep other people, out of their own land. Yes that is right, the Great Wall was not built by one state, and as such can not be used as a representation of a single Great Chinese State.

Regarding all them barbarians, well, yes, the northerners looked at the southerners as barbarians, but of course, I could also say that my neighborhood is made up of thousands of barbarians. In ancient North East Asia, however, a real barbarian, was one on horseback, and who lacked the skill of cooking. Basically cooking grain.

As the ancient people of Han used to say. We are civilized because we are cooked. Them barbarians in the north are uncivilized, because they do not know how to grown and cook rice. They are uncooked.