Early dispersal of domestic horses into the Great Plains and northern Rockies. Academic Article uri icon


  • The horse is central to many Indigenous cultures across the American Southwest and the Great Plains. However, when and how horses were first integrated into Indigenous lifeways remain contentious, with extant models derived largely from colonial records. We conducted an interdisciplinary study of an assemblage of historic archaeological horse remains, integrating genomic, isotopic, radiocarbon, and paleopathological evidence. Archaeological and modern North American horses show strong Iberian genetic affinities, with later influx from British sources, but no Viking proximity. Horses rapidly spread from the south into the northern Rockies and central plains by the first half of the 17th century CE, likely through Indigenous exchange networks. They were deeply integrated into Indigenous societies before the arrival of 18th-century European observers, as reflected in herd management, ceremonial practices, and culture.

published proceedings

  • Science

altmetric score

  • 2276.596

author list (cited authors)

  • Taylor, W., Librado, P., American Horse, C. J., Shield Chief Gover, C., Arterberry, J., Afraid of Bear-Cook, A. L., ... Orlando, L.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Taylor, William Timothy Treal||Librado, Pablo||American Horse, Chief Joseph||Shield Chief Gover, Carlton||Arterberry, Jimmy||Afraid of Bear-Cook, Antonia Loretta||Left Heron, Harold||Yellow Hair, Robert Milo||Gonzalez, Mario||Means, Bill||High Crane, Sam||Yellow Bull, Wendell W||Dull Knife, Barbara||Afraid of Bear, Anita||Tecumseh Collin, Cruz||Ward, Chance||Pasqual, Theresa A||Chauvey, Lorelei||Tonasso-Calviere, Laure||Schiavinato, Stéphanie||Seguin-Orlando, Andaine||Fages, Antoine||Khan, Naveed||Der Sarkissian, Clio||Liu, Xuexue||Wagner, Stefanie||Leonard, Beth Ginondidoy||Manzano, Bruce L||O'Malley, Nancy||Leonard, Jennifer A||Bernáldez-Sánchez, Eloísa||Barrey, Eric||Charliquart, Léa||Robbe, Emilie||Denoblet, Thibault||Gregersen, Kristian||Vershinina, Alisa O||Weinstock, Jaco||Rajić Šikanjić, Petra||Mashkour, Marjan||Shingiray, Irina||Aury, Jean-Marc||Perdereau, Aude||Alquraishi, Saleh||Alfarhan, Ahmed H||Al-Rasheid, Khaled AS||Trbojević Vukičević, Tajana||Buric, Marcel||Sauer, Eberhard||Lucas, Mary||Brenner-Coltrain, Joan||Bozell, John R||Thornhill, Cassidee A||Monagle, Victoria||Perri, Angela||Newton, Cody||Hall, W Eugene||Conver, Joshua L||Le Roux, Petrus||Buckser, Sasha G||Gabe, Caroline||Belardi, Juan Bautista||Barrón-Ortiz, Christina I||Hart, Isaac A||Ryder, Christina||Sponheimer, Matthew||Shapiro, Beth||Southon, John||Hibbs, Joss||Faulkner, Charlotte||Outram, Alan||Patterson Rosa, Laura||Palermo, Katelyn||Solé, Marina||William, Alice||McCrory, Wayne||Lindgren, Gabriella||Brooks, Samantha||Eché, Camille||Donnadieu, Cécile||Bouchez, Olivier||Wincker, Patrick||Hodgins, Gregory||Trabert, Sarah||Bethke, Brandi||Roberts, Patrick||Jones, Emily Lena||Running Horse Collin, Yvette||Orlando, Ludovic

publication date

  • March 2023