Archaeologists in Turkey's eastern Van province have discovered a 2,800-year-old horse skeleton from the Iron Age Urartu civilization (also known as the Kingdom of Van).
According to a report by the Anadolu Agency, the remains were discovered during excavations at Çavuştepe Castle.
Excavation lead Professor Rafet Çavuşoğlu from Van Yüzüncü Yıl University's Faculty of Archaeology said that the finding has revealed two types of ancient burial practices.
The first one involves the cremation of the dead and burying the remains by storing them inside a terracotta urn, while the second one involves burying the dead by positioning it in a way similar to the fetus is placed inside a mother's womb, Çavuşoğlu said.
The professor also noted that they discovered humans and animals were buried in the same place to their surprise.
Meanwhile, professor Hakan Yılmaz, who is also a part of the excavation team, said that the discovery of the horse skeleton is unprecedented in excavations carried out in Urartu necropolis.
"The skeleton remains were found in the layer in which the first burials were taken place. We came across numerous oxidized and deformed iron remains and bronze nails near the horse" Yılmaz said, adding that the finding indicates the horse could have belonged to a noble or an official who lived near the castle. "The horse was probably sacrificed after the owner's death" Yılmaz added.
Researchers will carry out DNA tests to find out the type and age of the horse and if the specific type is still found in the area in the present day.