Asian Journal of Paleopathology Vol.4
Received: February 11, 2022
Accepted: February 24, 2022
DOI: 10.32247/ajp2022.4.4

Original Article
The use of horses in classical period Japan inferred from pathology and limb bone proportion

Manabu Uetsuki, Hayao Nishinakagawa, Naomitsu Yamaji

 Pathology and limb bone proportions of horse remains from the classical period (latter half of 8th century CE) were investigated to discuss their use. Bit wear analysis (bevel and lower 2nd premolar anterior damage) and premaxillary remodeling confirmed that at least one of three horses was ridden. The evidence was limited for the other two, but one of them also exhibited bit-related damage indicative of riding. The limb bone proportion of the clearly ridden horse was distinct from any known native Japanese horses or archaeological specimens. The relatively elongated distal limb bones indicate its cursorial adaptation compared to the Japanese native horses, which survived in the steeper and more mountainous regions. The finding calls for a more cautious approach when applying native horse bone proportions to reconstruct the limb bone proportions of past horse populations. The combined methodology employed in this study has rarely been applied to Japanese horse remains. Although the sample was limited, the result presented here would serve as a valuable reference in exploring the use of horses from periods with little information related to their use, such as horse gears and historical documents.

Key words
Bit wear, premaxillary remodeling, limb bone proportion, Japanese native horses, classical period