Equine Exhibit Rides into History

By Loeffler, William | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 22, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Equine Exhibit Rides into History

Loeffler, William, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Man may have invented the wheel, but the horse pulled it.

The amazing equine gets its due in "The Horse," an exhibition that examines its place in history and heraldry, myth and legend as well as its remarkable synergy with man. It runs through May 24 at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland.

"More than any other animal, including the dog ... the horse did more to change the quality of life, trade and transportation," says Sandra Olsen, curator of anthropology at the Carnegie. "It had a very heavy religious significance. Of course, later in time, it was important in ... the chariot and cavalry. It changed the geopolitics of the world tremendously."

And, of course, without the faithful steed, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood would have had to resort to knocking coconuts together, like the knights in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Olsen is co-curator of the exhibit, along with Ross MacPhee of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The first part of the exhibit transports visitors back tens of millions of years ago, when multiple species of horse, known collectively as equidae, roamed the plains in what is now Nebraska. A diorama depicts the Dinohippus, a large horse, grazing near its smaller, forest dwelling cousin, the Nannippus.

Other parts of the exhibit examine the role of the horse in ritual, warfare, sports, travel and trade.

"The horse really has a real link to the progression of civilization," says Kristin Hermann, a director of the Western Pennsylvania Dressage Association, which promotes a method of training horses to move with rhythm and balance.

That link is Olsen's specialty. A zoo archaeologist, she studies the relationship between prehistoric peoples and wild or domesticated animals.

She spent five years studying the fossil evidence at a Paleolithic site in east central France where horses were killed for food 35,000 years ago. The site includes thousands of horse bones as well as spear points and butchering tools used by generations of Ice Age hunters.

"It's the only example of a mass horse-kill site we have," she says. "It's very similar to many of the bison-kill sites in North America."

The Carnegie exhibit includes fossils and artifacts from the site, as well as large photographs of cave paintings of horses from southwestern France.

Horses first may have been domesticated about 5,500 years ago in the steppes of Central Asia.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Equine Exhibit Rides into History


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?