'"The cultural importance of horses from the Prehistoric era to the early Anglo-Saxon period in Britain, Europe and parts of Asia remained largely constant." To what extent is the hypothesis correct?'
For her EPQ, Sophie analysed evidence that horses were essential to the development of human civilisation from the Prehistoric era to the early Anglo-Saxon period. Her essay covered specific sections including the use of horses in war, transport, politics and sport as well as its role in mythology and religion, with case studies on civilisations such as the Scythians and the Celtic horse tribes.
Why did you choose this project?
I have been involved with horses since before I can remember and have competed at an international level, but I also love the history of classical civilisations, such as the Greeks and the Romans, and so this projects bring all my passions together. My initial research sparked my interest into anthropology and seeing how different cultures all over Europe valued and used the horse. The topic also contributes towards my knowledge and develops more interest for my potential degree of Classics. I think that my project would be useful to anyone interested in how human history has developed as it proves that the horse was a major factor in the development of civilisation and society.
What sources did you use?
Although I found it hard to find resources with such a niche topic area, I had an extremely helpful conversation with author of ‘By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia’ Barry Cunliffe, who passed on advice and documents from his colleagues. I also used an exhibition at the British Museum in London called ‘Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia’ which displays archaeological finds showing that the Scythians valued their horses greatly. Two useful books, ‘The Age of the Horse’ by Susanna Forrest and ‘Horses Through Time’ by Sandra L.Olsen, gave a brilliant overview of the horse through all of history too, so I used them to pick out certain periods of history to make them appropriate for my project.
What did you learn?
Instead of using flowery language and telling the chronological story of the horse, which is most natural to me, I had to develop analytical skills and pick out information from sources that would prove my hypothesis correct and structure my essay well. This meant that my research had to be clearly set out so that I could put them into factors, which I did on OneNote where I made a conclusion page for each civilisation. OneNote has been the most useful new software I have come across for the project, and I definitely would not have done this project as easily or as well without it. The ability to copy, paste, and cut when researching and organising was an amazing help.