The Armenian Highlands were renowned for horse breeding and horsemanship throughout ancient times. Petroglyphs found in Armenia, dated to 3,000 B.C., show the oldest pictures of men driving chariots, wagons, and plows, with horses doing the pulling.
In 36B.C., Marc Antony takes a 10,000-horse cavalry, most of the animals coming from Spain, to Syria in his war against Parthia. He loses the war and ravages Armenia, returning to Egypt with Armenia’s king and the first large number of Nisean horses in the Roman Empire. Augustus Caesar ends up with them after defeating Antony.
In 111-114A.D., Armenia, the breeding ground for the Nisean horse, is annexed by Rome.
Unique discoveries revealed as a result of excavations at Shengavit and the village of Nor Naver, Armenia (4000-3000 B.C.). German paleozoologist Hans Peter Wertman said, “I had not observed such a quantity of horses in the entire Ancient East.”
These finds provide evidence that the Armenians were among the earliest nations engaged in horse breeding for military purposes.
During the middle ages, Armenians continued this tradition of horse mastery and with the invention of the Armenian alphabet produced a 184 page manual on horse medicine. It was written in the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia between 1295 and 1298A.D.
Horse breeding was under the Armenian government’s guardianship, namely the Amatuni dynasty. They have been bred only in regions of Sharur, Ardahan, mountains Sukhavet, Shatik, Yeghpark, Sharian, which belonged to Amatunis.
Armenia has been a major exporter of horses in the Near East. The Great Silk Road has been a passageway in Armenia’s trade which has been conducted with Rome, Pontus, the Bosporan Kingdom, Egypt, Persia, India, and even China.
- Karabakh horse