Is it Equus sivalensis? I remember them being white for the ritual but do we know the breed?

  • I don't think HSE takes History into account?
    – Shashaank
    Sep 19, 2022 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


E. sivalensis is thought to have gone extinct 10k–75k years ago during the late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction as no evidence of them has been found more recently than 75k years ago.¹ Aśvamedha (horse sacrifice) has been performed many times since then. Here is a list of known aśvamedha from the Vedic Period to the 18th Century. Domesticated horses (E. ferus) were brought to India sometime after 4,000 years ago.²

The most detail we have about aśvamedha is from Ashvamedhika Parva, the 14th book of Mahabharata. The concept of species taxonomy is much more recent, so I don't think you will find an exact reference to the species in any scriptures or itihāsa. The above evidence points to the species in question being E. ferus.

1: §"The Siwalik equid," "Harappan horse myths and the sciences," The Hindu, 5 Mar 2002
2: "The origins and spread of domestic horses from the Western Eurasian steppes," Nature, Librado, et al., 20 Oct 2021, doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04018-9

  • 1
    I know there is no scripture reference to this, but I like how you used some science and logic to figure out the answer. +1 Sep 28, 2022 at 13:39

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