The animal bones at Umm el-Marra were thought to be from kungas because their teeth had marks from bit harnesses and wear patterns that showed they had been fed, rather than left to graze. (Image credit: Glenn Schwartz/Johns Hopkins University)

Mesopotamians were using hybrids of domesticated donkeys and wild asses to pull their war wagons 4,500 years ago — at least 500 years before horses were bred for the purpose, a new study reveals.

The analysis of ancient DNA from animal bones unearthed in northern Syria resolves a long-standing question of just what type of animals were the “kungas” described in ancient sources as pulling war wagons.


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