The Ancient Ass

New Scientist in March 2008 had an interesting brief report of research on the donkeys of Egypt – a form of travel for many centuries. A study of 5000-year-old skeletons from ancient burial sites indicate that modern day donkeys are descended from domesticated African wild asses. These bones resemble the modern day, larger Nubian and Somali wild asses. The researcher, Fiona Marshall of Washington University, St Louis, Missouri is quoted: “The engine of the Egyptian state … was the donkey.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/prias .0709692105).