(Times of Israel) Dental analysis of the teeth of a 4,700-year-old donkey indicate the first evidence of equid bridle bit wear in the Near East. It is some 600 years earlier than commonly thought, and predates the arrival of horses to the region.

An international team of multidisciplinary researchers published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE Wednesday. In the article, the authors dispel the common belief that bit use entered the Near East only upon the introduction of horses in the region from the Middle Bronze Age and onward (after 2000 BCE).

Their conclusions were reached through careful study of the wear patterns on teeth from a donkey from the Early Bronze Age, which indicate the use of a soft, biodegradable bit, predating horses in the region by centuries.

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