A well-preserved horse skeleton has been discovered in an ancient Greek cemetery.
The skeleton was discovered while landscaping works were being undertaken around the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center at the Faliro Delta, on the southern coast of Athens and once the host of Greece’s only pari-mutuel horse track.
The skeleton, with even the hooves in tact, was presented to the Central Archaeological Council on Tuesday.
“In the Faliro necropolis, we have found four complete horse graves, as well as parts of other skeletons; therefore, it is not something rare for the area,” explained head archaeologist, Stella Chrysoulaki.
“What is rare and surprised us was the degree of preservation of the specific skeleton, which even has its hooves. For zoo-archaeologists or a university, this find could be an excellent opportunity for a study. Having such a large number of skeletons – four is quite a number – such a study could reach a number of conclusions on the breeds and the evolution of the species. From this point of view, this discovery is very important.”
Ms Chrysoulaki, who is in charge of the excavation, said that it was once common to bury horses on human burial sites and so was not entirely surprising.
She did however go on to describe the Faliro necropolis as a place “where unbelievable things happen”, having been the site of a number of unusual findings over the years.
One example cited by the archaeologist was the discovery of two skeletons lying side by side with their hands clasped.
Since excavations began in the area, a total of 136 burial sites have been discovered in the 840-square-meter ancient cemetery.
While the horse skeletons have been removed from the site for further study, the Central Archaeological Council has approved continued construction on the site.