Archaeozoological remains provide a key dataset for understanding horse control in Mongolia's Deer Stone-Khirigsuur (DSK) Complex, a late Bronze Age culture dating to circa 1300–700 BC. Although no horse tack has been recovered from DSK contexts, archaeological finds from nearby areas of East and Central Asia suggest that a bridle with a noseband, soft organic bit, and rigid cheekpieces was used by late Bronze Age Mongolian herders. Osteological data from a sample of 25 ritually interred horse crania corroborate these inferences. Deformation to the bridge of the nose on several archaeological specimens suggests that DSK bridles incorporated a noseband, while limited damage to the premolars or diastema is consistent with organic mouthpiece use. A preliminary comparison between archaeological and contemporary horses ridden with known bridle equipment implies that osteological changes to the lateral margin of the premaxilla, present in the DSK sample, might have been produced by a rigid cheekpiece. This study highlights the promise of combining multiple lines of skeletal evidence with other archaeological data to reconstruct ancient equine bridles and tack.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3