Origins of Animal Domestication

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Origins of domestication As we went through the last lectures, the one on the origins of animal domestication seemed very important to me, as I already studied it in Archaeology. Domestication is defined as the slow process which consists in animal or plant adaptation into cultivated forms through altering the behavior, size and genetics by humans. “The shift from acquiring dead animals to maintaining flocks of live animals marks the beginning of animal domestication” stated Meadow (1989:81). But, for any animals to be domesticated they have to develop a relationship with people and they must be willing to live and breed in captivity or in people’s company. Otherwise, this process can not be possible. The process of domestication started at different times all across the world, with various species. The first animal that is known to have been domesticated is sheep, for fresh meat resources, in the Middle East, probably about 12.000 years ago. Shortly after that, people began to domesticate also goats, cattle and pigs. As far as cattle domestication regards, their breeding for meat and skin contributed very much to the development of agriculture. The domestication of horses began in the Middle East in the second millennium BC. Besides their domestication for meat and skin, horses played a big role in the waging of wars and were also used as transportation. Cats were domesticated probably for the joy and entertainment they brought in people’s houses. Also, they were used for their ability to catch mice and rats. Bees were domesticated at the end of Neolithic period for honey. Silkworms began to be domesticated in China no more than 5000 years ago for silk. But, recent archaeological evidences show us that the first animal to be domesticated was the dog, in the Mesolithic, more than 12.000 years ago, from a jawbone found in an Iroquoian cave.
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