Eurasian steppe and war drive

In 2011, “War Horse” directed by Spielberg was released worldwide. This is an excellent film with a gross box office of nearly 200 million US dollars and six Oscar nominations. The film uses the perspective of a horse named “Joy” to show audiences around the world the European style that was in the storm of war more than 100 years ago, and also interprets the friendship between man and horse to a new level. The stage play with the same name as the movie has also attracted attention since its inception in 2007. In just 7 years, it has been staged in more than 50 countries for more than 3,000 times, with a total audience of more than 5 million. The reason why “War Horse” resonates with people from different cultural backgrounds around the world is because humans and horses have an extremely long relationship. As early as 5500 years ago, humans began the domestication of wild horses. Since then, the horse has always been the most important animal partner of mankind and has witnessed almost all important historical moments of mankind.

With the rapid spread of motor vehicles and mechanized farming, the jobs and types of work that originally required horsepower to maintain quickly disappeared, and horses have gradually left our daily lives. Today, except in zoos, tourist attractions, or some special gatherings, it is not easy to see this tall four-hoofed animal. However, the impact of horses on people’s lives continues. We still cannot do without horses in our speech and behavior: in Chinese, we call immediate “immediate”, the broad road “malu”, and carelessness ” “Sloppy”, the flatterer is called “flattering”, the outstanding talent is called the “horse horse”, and the bad elements in the team are called the “black sheep”… In English, people give horses the same important status as people, such as a willing horse It means “a person who is willing and willing to work”, a wheel horse means “work hard, backbone”, and clothes horse means a “fashionable person”… Since the horse is so deep in people’s lives, where does it come from? From everywhere, what route did you travel to all over the world?

Where did the horse come from
Looking back on history, we find that horses and human civilization were once very closely connected. In China, people set up special institutions to raise horses as early as the Zhou Dynasty. The “Zhou Li·Shepherd” clearly pointed out that “horses are the great use of the country, and they should be used as shepherds and grazing people. In the administrative system of the Zhou Dynasty, even the official title of “The Law of Building a State by Sustaining King Ping Bang Guo” was related to horses, called “Da Sima”. Because they were good at raising horses, the common people of Qin who lived in Xizhou quickly grew up and eventually created the first unified empire in Chinese history. In the West, the Trojans, who are good at training horses and rich in the world, are repeatedly sung by the poet Homer in the “Iliad”. They were prospered by horses and built strong and majestic walls; but perhaps because of their love for horses, at the critical moment of the decisive battle with the Greeks, the Trojans opened the gates and greeted the tall wooden horse, and finally lost their own. home. Regarding the historical contribution of horses, Alan Utrem, a professor of archaeology at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, wrote in the journal Science: “Once a horse is mounted, human beings have a means of transportation, expand their trading capabilities, and are also in war. Gain an advantage.”

More and more archaeological excavations show that by the middle of the Shang Dynasty, there were no traces of horses in the Yellow River Basin in China. Neither the Shangcheng site in Yanshi, Henan (3600-3400 years ago) nor the Shuangqiao site in Zhengzhou and the Huanbei site in Anyang during the same period were unearthed. In the late Shang Dynasty (about 3000 years ago), many horse pits and cart horse pits suddenly appeared in the Yinxu ruins in Anyang, Henan, Laoniupo in Xi’an, Shaanxi, and Qianzhang in Tengzhou, Shandong. 100 Multiple carts and horse pits, at least one horse in each pit, up to 37 horses. During the Warring States Period, the horse became a weapon of war. For example, in the excavated Qin Shihuang terracotta warriors and horses ruins, more than 600 horse warriors have been unearthed.

In the Assyrian Empire in the Mesopotamia, the horse drawn King Ashur Nasipar II in battle and lion hunting (approximately 875-860 BC). These stone sculptures of the King of Assyria are currently in the collection of the British Museum in London, England. On the screen, the King of Assyria is standing on a chariot with an arrow in his right hand and a bow in his left hand; or pulling a bow and shooting an arrow on a galloping chariot. Go hunting lions. There are three big horses in front of the chariot, with their heads high and four hooves moving, full of power. In the Iranian plateau, the Achaemenid dynasty from 550 BC to 330 BC also left historical images of horses. In the series of reliefs in the dynasty capital of Polis, there are many images of two horse-drawn carriages. The horses are not tall but have steady gaits.

More than 2,400 years ago, ancient Greek states also sprung up family horses for people to drive. They appeared on commemorative coins or coins and became treasures of the people of that era. In 412 BC, the city of Accragas in Sicily (which was part of the ancient Greek colonial city-state at the time) issued 10 drach silver coins. On the front of these silver coins, the sun god “Helio” was running in a four-horse cart. These four horses stand side by side, with their front hooves in the air, with extraordinary looks. In his article “Horse Culture in Ancient Greek Coins”, Mr. Zijin believed that the silver coin was “made by the city of Akragas in 412 BC to commemorate the victory of horse racing at the 92nd Ancient Greek Olympic Games.” In addition, the Star Gold coin issued by King Philip II of Macedon and the standard silver coin of Tarrenton in southern Italy also have horse-drawn carriage patterns. These are undoubtedly evidence of the existence of the horse in ancient Greece. .

Around the same time, domestic horses appeared in the highlands of the world civilization. Where did they travel from? Judging from the satellite map, in the north of the earth lies an Asia-Europe grassland with a length of more than 8,000 kilometers. This grassland is distributed in a belt pattern, starting from the lower reaches of the Danube in Europe in the west, passing through Romania to the east, crossing Russia and Mongolia, and reaching the Songliao Plain in China, spanning a total of 110 longitudes. Modern archaeology found that wild horses evolved from the Eurasian steppe. The historian Mr. Li Ling believes that the horse’s ancestral skeleton was small and the size was about the size of today’s foxes and dogs. The grass-eating animals were all taken aback, and the round hooves ran fast.” Over time, wild horses evolved a long neck and four hooves that are good at running.

From the perspective of the ratio of horses used by chariots and cavalry, “there are thousands of chariots and thousands of horses.” Only chariots use much less horses. Only with the rise of large-scale cavalry can the demand for horses increase substantially. From the actual situation, the series of wars launched by nomads against farming and pastoral areas eventually promoted the popularization of horses among different civilizations. During the Qin and Han dynasties, the Xiongnu’s southward movement and the westward movement of the Huns on the European continent around the 3rd and 4th centuries objectively stimulated horses to travel across regions. The Huns are nomads living around the Caspian Sea. They were once considered the descendants of the Huns that ravaged northern Asia. Although the Huns and the Huns are quite similar in the pronunciation, appearance and social form of their names, there is still no direct historical data or archaeological objects in the world that can prove the blood connection between the two.

Around 350 years, this group of nomadic tribes with short statures, large heads and wide faces, and small flat noses began to gather and prosper. With burly shoulders, strong upper limbs, superb equestrian skills, and outstanding riding and shooting, the Hungarian tribe was once invincible on the European continent, unstoppable. In 374, they conquered the Germans to establish the Eastern Gothic kingdom; in 395, they captured Thrace (part of today’s Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and other countries); by 435, the legendary leader Attis was on the rise, and he led 70 Wan Tieqi launched an all-out war against the Persian Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire and won a great victory; in 450 years, he continued to march westward with his whip and attack the Western Roman Empire, and the entire West trembled under the iron hooves of the Huns. In the “Divine Comedy” by the poet Dante, the Huns are wailing wherever they go, and their leader Attis is the terrifying “God’s Whip”. For more than 100 years, the Huns brought huge disasters to the Europeans, and made horses the absolute protagonist of the battlefield and a strategic resource for various countries to compete for. In order to fight the Huns, the Europeans had to buy horses in large quantities to form a powerful cavalry regiment. More and more horses have been transported to Europe from the Central Asian grasslands, becoming the most popular animals on European soil.

After traveling east and west for hundreds of years, the famous Asian horses represented by Persian horses entered India southward and continued to travel to South Asia via India. The Persian historian Vasaf recorded in his famous book “The Conqueror of the World”: “Between Persia and South India, there was a large trade of horses in the Middle Ages. At that time, there were more than 20,000 horses every year. Persian horses were transported to South India by sea, and a small part of these horses were traded to some countries in Southeast Asia.” Vassaf also mentioned that because of India’s hot climate and feed (sweet milk and ghee mixed with cooked rice) And peas), which often caused the death of a large number of Persian horses in a short period of time, which in turn stimulated the long-lasting trade of horses between India and the Persian kingdom. In addition to Persia, ancient China also imported horses to India. “The Travels of Marco Polo” records: “(Dian horse) has a small but strong body and sells India. But if you know, people will extract two or three tendons. So that he can’t hit his rider with his tail.”

From a regional point of view, the last place horse traveled was the American continent. In 1532, the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro led 168 people to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire. At this time, the Inca Empire ruled a vast territory. King Atahualpa had just won the battle and was sitting behind him. 80,000 Inca soldiers. But when the two armies faced each other, the ending was shocking. The huge Inca army was defeated by Pizarro’s small crowd, and even the king was arrested. American historian Diamond described the war in detail in the book “Guns, Germs, and Steel”: When the two sides were at war, a group of Inca soldiers suddenly appeared in front of them “armored, armed with steel swords, and riding The cavalry of tall monsters rushed towards them. Compared with sharp swords, the tall horses frightened the Incas. This was an unfamiliar species they had never seen before. It was fast and powerful. There was no other way but to flee. Of course, in terms of time, this is not the first time a horse has appeared in the Americas. As early as 1493, when Columbus made his second voyage, the horse had been brought to the Americas by Europeans. In terms of breed, most of these horses are Spanish horses. A colonial official named Hernando wrote in a letter dated October 2, 1585, that “most of the horses brought to the Americas came from Cordoba and Jerez provinces in the Kingdom of Andalusia, Spain. ”

As shown in the movie “War Horse”, the horse is tall, handsome, fast, and human. It can not only gallop on the battlefield, but also pull the plow in the farmland. In the pre-mechanical era, the horse’s extreme running speed allowed people to experience speed and passion; the horse’s load-bearing ability accelerated the process of world civilization exchanges. It is precisely because of this that horses have become the animals that people are most willing to raise, and the animals of choice to accompany people to travel the world. Horses have completed their own global travels while serving humans.