考古发现:唐代贵女或许骑着驴子打马球

2020年8月18日
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‘Polo-obsessed’ Chinese noblewoman buried with her donkey steed

考古发现:唐代贵女或许骑着驴子打马球

History records the deeds of faithful horses, whereas it relegates their equine cousins, the donkeys, to the role of mere pack animals. But a new analysis of bones buried with a ninth century Chinese noblewoman may help raise the status of the lowly ass: It may have served as her steed during polo matches in the royal court.

马是人类的重要伙伴,但是它们的表亲(驴)却被降级为单纯的运输工具。但是,在一处9世纪的中国女性贵族的墓葬里出土了几块骨骼,随后进行的分析似乎有助于提升驴子的历史地位:它在皇室马球比赛中替代骏马出场。

“It is about time that donkeys are getting their due recognition,” says Sandra Olsen, an archaeologist at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Museum of Natural History who wasn’t involved with the work. She calls the new finding of their role in ancient sports “particularly exciting.”

坎萨斯大学劳伦斯自然历史博物馆的考古学家Sandra Olsen表示:“现在是时候让驴得到应有的认可了。”她称新发现“特别令人兴奋”。

In 2012, a team of Chinese archaeologists in Xi’an, the ancient capital of the Tang dynasty, excavated the bricked-in tomb of a woman named Cui Shi, who, according to official records, died at the age of 59 on 6 October 878 C.E. Murals on her tomb walls of workers preparing a sumptuous feast suggest she was of high status. Although looters had ransacked the tomb, they left behind a bevy of animal bones, including those of at least three donkeys.

2012年,中国考古团队在古都西安挖掘了崔氏的墓地,据官方记录,这一唐代贵女于10月6日去世,享年59岁。公元878年,墓中的壁画表明她的地位很高。尽管盗墓者已经洗劫了陪葬品,但他们留下了一大堆动物骨头,包括至少三头驴子的骨头。

Donkeys would have been a common sight in Xi’an in the ninth century. The bustling Tang capital was the eastern terminus of the Silk Road trade route, and donkeys were frequently used as pack animals. But humble beasts of burden aren’t usually buried alongside elite members of society, says study co-author Fiona Marshall, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “Donkeys … are not associated with high-status people,” Marshall says. “They were animals used by ordinary folk.”

在9世纪的长安,驴本来是司空见惯的事。繁华的长安是丝绸之路贸易路线的东端,驴子常被当作运载工具。论文的合著者圣路易斯华盛顿大学的人类学家Fiona Marshall说, “驴……与地位高的人没有关系,它们是普通人使用的畜力。”

One hint to why they were in Cui’s tomb, she says, may lie in the identity of her husband, Bao Gao. Ancient texts reveal that the polo-obsessed Emperor Xizong promoted Bao to the rank of general because of his skills on the polo fields. Polo was wildly popular during the Tang dynasty—for both women and men—but it was also dangerous; riders thrown from their horses were frequently injured or killed. If a woman like Cui wanted to join a game, then riding a donkey—slower, steadier, and lower to the ground—might have been a safer alternative.

她说,用驴子陪葬的可能线索来源于她丈夫鲍高的身份。古代文献表明,出于对马球运动的痴迷,唐僖宗因鲍高在运动中的表现而将其提拔为将军。马球是唐代大受欢迎的运动,无论男女。运动本身非常危险。失手的骑手常常受伤或死亡。如果像崔氏这样的女性想参加比赛,那么骑驴(更慢,更稳固,更低的冲突烈度)可能是一种更安全的选择。

When the researchers, led by archaeologist Songmei Hu of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, analyzed the size of the donkey bones in Cui’s tomb, they found that they were too small to have been good pack animals. Computerized tomography scans of the leg bones revealed patterns of stress similar to an animal that ran and turned frequently, rather than one that slowly trudged in a single direction. Taken together, the evidence suggests Cui played polo astride a donkey, the researchers report today in Antiquity. The noblewoman’s donkeys may have been ritually sacrificed when she died to allow Cui to continue to play in the afterlife.

陕西省考古研究所的考古学家胡松梅领导的团队分析了墓中驴骨的大小,他们发现它们太小了,无法成为合格的畜力。对腿骨骼的计算机断层扫描显示,生前的应力模式类似于经常奔跑和转弯的动物,而不是缓慢前行的动物。研究人员在报告中说,综合来看,证据表明崔氏生前骑着这驴子玩马球。驴在她死后被祭祀,以允许崔在来世继续游戏。

“There’s no smoking gun … [but] there’s really no other explanation that makes sense,” Marshall says, adding that the finding suggests Tang dynasty donkeys were held in higher regard than believed.

Marshall说:“没有板上钉钉的证据……(但)也没有其他有意义的解释。”他补充说,这一发现表明唐朝的驴子受到的重视程度超出了之前的想象。

William Taylor, an anthropologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who studies human-animal relationships, agrees the donkeys in the tomb were not simple pack animals. But although polo playing is one plausible explanation, he says, the biomechanical stress patterns may also match other activities, such as pulling a cart or milling grain. Still, if the researchers are right, Olsen says, “it is doubly rewarding that another underdog in ancient history, women’s sports, is also [getting credit].”

研究人类与动物关系的科罗拉多大学博尔德分校的人类学家William Taylor同意,墓中的驴不是简单的运载畜力。他说,尽管马球是一个合理的解释,但生物力学应力模式也可能与其它活动相匹配,例如拉车或碾磨谷物。不过,如果研究人员是对的,Olsen说:“令人倍感欣慰的是,古代历史上的另一类失败者,妇女,至少也有机会享受体育运动。”

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