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Lecture by John Hale, University of Louisville:
After wild horses were first domesticated on the grasslands of the Eurasian steppes, troops of nomadic riders began to conquer agricultural communities to the south and east, thus establishing some of the world’s earliest empires. Although such equids as the donkey and mule (a horse-donkey hybrid) played essential roles in the development of farming, horses were mainly utilized in hunting, in displays of status, and in war, becoming in time the ultimate status symbol of male dominance from Celtic lands in Atlantic Europe to Chinese kingdoms and empires in eastern Asia. Chariots were first used in raids and battles, as platforms for archers and spearmen. But their potential for sport and racing ultimately overshadowed their military role, particularly in the Roman Empire. Lecturer John R. Hale has directed fieldwork at the extensive Roman horse farm of Torre de Palma in Portugal (modern Lusitania), where mosaic artists created portraits of five famous stallions. In this illustrated lecture, he shows how chariot-racing become the most popular sport in the Roman world, with such hippodromes as the Circus Maximus in Rome becoming the largest of all Roman public structures.
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