Symbolic Metal Bit and Saddlebag Fastenings in a Middle Bronze Age Donkey Burial

Guy Bar-Oz, Pirhiya Nahshoni, Hadas Motro, Eliezer D. Oren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Here we report the unprecedented discovery of the skeleton of a ritually interred donkey with a metal horse bit in association with its teeth and saddlebag fastenings on its back. This discovery in the Middle Bronze Age III sacred precinct (1700/1650-1550 BCE) at Tel Haror, Israel, presents a unique combination of evidence for the early employment of equid harnessing equipment, both for chariot bridling (horse bit) and pack animals (saddlebags). The ritually deposited donkey with its unique accoutrements advances our understanding of the broad social and religious significance of equids in the Levantine Bronze Age, previously known mainly from textual and iconographical sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58648
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 6 Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Tel Haror saddlebags may have been crafted specifically for the occasion of the donkey burial in the temple precinct. This suggestion is supported by the distinctively small sized bags, 35.0×20.0 cm, and the ritual context of the specimen. The saddlebags may have been used to carry certain valuable items .

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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