Archaeologists discover first evidence for polo—on donkeys
Bones from a 1,150-year-old tomb in China show that the animals served as much more than beasts of burden.
Polo is known as the “sport of kings,” a challenging equestrian pastime that has amused aristocrats for centuries. But well-heeled polo players didn’t always ride horses. New research confirms that an ancient Chinese noblewoman likely played the game on donkeys instead—and enjoyed the pursuit so much, she was buried with her prized charges.
Researchers from China and the United States describe the find in the latest issue of the archaeological journal Antiquity. It’s the first physical evidence for this species-specific variation of the sport known as ljvu that has been described in contemporary chronicles and portrayed in art, but never confirmed in the archaeological record until now.
Polo is thought to have evolved from equestrian games developed by nomads