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On the head of the statue there are clear signs of a bridle which in turn confirms that inhabitant of al‑Magar domesticated horses”“Presence of horse statues of big sizes, coupled with Neolithic artefacts and tools dating back to 9,000 years ago is considered an important archaeological discovery at the international arena particularly in view that the latest studies indicated that animal domestication was known for the first time 5,500 years ago in central Asia.

This site demonstrated that horses were domesticated in Saudi Arabia before a long period of the afore‑mentioned date”“Al‑Magar site incarnated four significant Arabian cultural characteristics for which the Arabs are highly proud of.

The best way to address the question of the domestication of the horse and its introduction in the Arabian Peninsula is still to consider available data systematically (see in this issue: Olsen; Robin and Antonini).

Much has been written on the topic and our intention is not so much to produce a new synthesis as to underline the progressive shift of horse domestication along a north‑south axis, starting in central Asia and the Eurasian steppes, and progressively reaching the Middle East, Egypt, and then Arabia.

Gathering contributions on the topic of the horse in Arabia and the place of the Arabian horse in the medieval Islamic world allows us to draw an overview of the current knowledge about the issue of the introduction of the horse to Arabia (see Robin and Antonini), of the origin of the Arabian breed (see Olsen), of the significance and contribution of Arabian rock art (see Robin and Antonini, Olsen), of the role of the horse in Rasulid diplomacy (see Mahoney) and in Mamlūk culture (see Berriah, Carayon), of the emergence of the myth of the Arabian horse in the 19th‑century Arabian Peninsula (see Pouillon), and on the specific issue of horse armour from the late pre‑Islamic period to the Ottoman empire (see Nicolle).

Until 2010, al‑Maqar [often written al‑Magar] was nothing but a dot on the map of the governorate of Tathlīth (province of ʿAsīr, Saudi Arabia).

[…] In March 2010, the SCTA flew Saudi and international archaeologists and pre‑historians to al‑Magar for a brief daytime survey.

While digging a cistern, Mutlaq ibn Gublan had fortuitously discovered an 86‑cm‑long sculpture fragment of an equid; afterwards, he collected some 300 artefacts including other fragmentary animal statues (among which a dog, an ostrich, a falcon), stone tools, arrowheads, scrapers and spearheads, stone grinders and stone pestle.

This impressive discovery reflects the importance of the site as a centre and could possibly the birthplace of an advanced prehistoric civilization that witnessed domestication of animals, particularly the horse, for the first time during the Neolithic period”Harrigan has already emphasized how “the discovery at al‑Magar and the electrifying question it raises come as Saudi Arabia experiences a resurgent pride not only in its archaeological heritage but also, particularly, in the legacy and culture of the desert‑bred Arabian horse”.

Making the heart of the Arabian Peninsula the cradle of the Arabian horse and of horsemanship was not only a matter of scientific debate, it also achieved ideological purposes.

When the results were officially presented to King Abdallah, “he urged the SCTH to publish the results of the excavation that proved that the Arabian Peninsula had precedence in taking care of horses”, the official report downplays the way most of the artefacts were collected —namely through illegal excavation/surface collection, with no archaeological record.

The reports states that the discovery of the site was done by a Saudi national who collected some archaeological objects scattered on the surface, and followed by field work of a team of international experts; the proportion of artefacts sampled by the different actors is not mentioned“Ibn Gublan unearthed some 300 objects there.

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Horse riding really took off in the Early‑Iron‑Age Luristan.

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