During the eighth season of archaeological research in Gohar Tappeh, in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a horse identified as the Caspian also known as the Māzandarān Horse, the oldest breed of horse in the world still in existence.
The remains were discovered in a cemetery dating back to the late Bronze and early Iron age, around 3400 BCE.
“Due to the form, figure and size of the discovered remains of the horse, we now have the oldest evidence for Caspian horse ancestry at hand”, said Ali Mahforuzi, the director of the archaeological team in Gohar Tappeh.
The Gohar Tappeh historical site with a 50 hectare area is located in the eastern part of Mazandaran province between the cities of Neka and Behshahr, north of Iran. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Iran located near the Caspian Sea, which carries the secret of an ancient civilisation. It is also believed that Gohar Tappeh once enjoyed a complicated urbanisation some 6,500 to 7,000 years ago.
The Caspian horse or the ‘Kings’ Horse’, was celebrated in ancient Iran as a chariot horse for racing and in battle, and presented to kings and queens as a valuable gift and is known to be favoured by Darius the Great.
The Caspian horse was thought to have disappeared into antiquity, until 1965 when the American wife of an Iranian aristocrat called Louise Firouz went on an expedition on horseback and discovered small horses in the Iranian mountainous regions south of the Caspian Sea.
The Caspian horse has been recently discovered to be particularly genetically diverse.