Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

East Asian Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Victor H. Mair

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the role of the domestic horse in pre-imperial China motivated by the rise of studies on the horse as an interdisciplinary field. Among archaeological finds of the pre-imperial era, horse corpses and horse harnesses have been an essential part of cultural relics. Documentary sources on the horse can be traced back to the earliest Chinese writings. In this dissertation it is suggested that the domestication was a long, staged process, and the transmission route of the horse from the Urals to China via Central Asia will be proposed.

A comprehensive survey of the archaeological remains related to the horse in the pre-imperial era constitutes the second main aspect of this dissertation, while documentary sources focusing on the use of the horse in civil and military affairs and the interaction of the horse and human beings . After comparing the role of the horse in China with that in other ancient civilizations, such as Greece, India and Persia, the discussion will end up with a summary of the contributions of the domesticated horse to pre-imperial China. Thousands of miles of roads were constructed for equestrian transport, and politically the horse accelerated the pace of militaristic expansion and consolidation of territory. The use of the horse also facilitated agriculture and trade, and thus propelled the society forward into the imperial era.

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