Title: Horses from the Steppe: A Major Factor in Success in Warfare in Early China
Speaker: Prof. Dame Jessica Rawson (University of Oxford)
Format: Hybrid (online via MS Teams and in person)
Date: Wednesday, 17 November 2021
Time: 15:00 GMT
Organized by: The Oxford Centre for Asian Archaeology, Art & Culture, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
The Mongol success in conquering China in the thirteenth century is the outstanding and best known example of the military advantage of mounted horsemen from the north. However, the tussle of between the peoples of China’s Yellow River basin and their neighbours on the steppe goes back more than two millennia. The geographic and environmental contrasts of three regions, the steppe, the Loess Plateau across a very large segment of northern China and the Yellow River basin, forced the settled agriculturalists of the river valleys to seek horses from the steppe in order to ward of people from the steppe. The talk will explore this conjunction and illustrate the ways in which horses led to the victories
of the early dynasties but also to their downfall. Recent archaeological work makes it possible to identify the intermediaries who brought northern, particularly steppe horses, south in the period 1250-500 BC.
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