- Wild horses disappeared from Italy at the end of the Pleistocene and reappeared in the third millennium BC. However, it is only in the Middle Bronze Age of northern Italy that the animal begins to reappear in large numbers. There is convincing evidence that horses were present in central Italy by the time of the Final Bronze Age in locations such as Narce, Gubbio, Sorgenti della Nova, and Colle dei Capuccini. Their introduction appears to be linked to status and warfare, most particularly the use of a long sword from a position of height. There is some discussion in the literature about the breeds of these and later horses, since some may have arrived from the north and others by maritime contact across the Mediterranean from the east. By the time of the Villanovan period, the possession of a horse had become an instrument of prestige demonstrated by the presence of horse bits among grave assemblages and the dedication of horse bits in Greek sanctuaries. The presence of some 200 carts and chariots in the graves of central Italy, in most cases drawn by horses, further indicates the prestige that accompanied these animals. These were not restricted to male graves, although they outnumbered female graves in a proportion of five to one.
Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans. Simon K. F. Stoddart.
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