An ancient bridle gag — a tool used to control horses — was recently unearthed in Germany, officials said.
The artifact was discovered at an archaeological site in Tauberrettersheim, a small town in the state of Bavaria. The site, on which a new development will be built, dates to between 1,300 and 800 B.C.
The bridle gag was fashioned from bone and appears to be well-preserved, according to an Oct. 12 news release from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation.
The decorated object is evidence that the ancient inhabitants of the region treated animals, or at least horses, with care, officials said. (Humans have been domesticating horses for thousands of years, at least since 3,500 B.C., according to a 2011 study published in the journal PLOS One.)
Over 200 other artifacts were found at the site, including the skeletal remains of a young child and the skull of an adult. There was evidence of wooden structures as well.
The artifacts likely belonged to the Urnfields, a warlike people who occupied central Europe during the late Bronze Age, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
The Urnfields were comprised of communities in modern-day Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, according to a study published in June in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. They disappeared during the pre-Roman Iron Age, which spanned from around 800 to 250 B.C.
However, it’s possible some of the artifacts, including the skeletal remains, date back even further, perhaps to the Neolithic period, which spanned from around 5,500 to 2,200 B.C.
Google Translate was used to translate a news release from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation.