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Early domestication and farming: what should we know or do for a better understanding?

By J. D. Vigne

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Abstract

This paper aims to identify a series of conceptual, strategic and technological challenges facing archaeozoology (and archaeobotany) in order to better understand when, where, how and why plant and animal domestication and farming developed during the last 12 000 years. Situated at the interface of human societies and their environment, this reflection is based on examples, some of them unpublished, and on many references to animal domestication and husbandry in Eurasia, especially in East Asia, Southwest Asia and Cyprus. From a conceptual point of view, the author calls for an integrative systemic approach within the structural framework of the anthroposystem - a metasystem grouping societies and their environments, namely, their biodiversity. In order to tackle the full complexity of the system, equal attention must be paid to the biological, evolutionary and ecological components, as well as to the anthropological dynamics of human societies including technical, social and cultural aspects. To facilitate such an approach, this paper proposes a series of dynamic lines of research in order to explore the numerous gaps in our understanding of the beginnings of domestication and of the Neolithic transition, covering both causal factors and the diverse strategies developed by past societies. It pays special attention to the increasingly varied and cutting-edge technologies that can be used within these research projects, specifically quantitative data processing and databasing, direct radiocarbon dating of the bioarchaeological remains, traditional or geometric morphometrics, paleogenetics and paleogenomics, and sequential analyses of stable isotope ratios. More generally speaking, this paper aims to contribute to the development of an emerging and very promising interdisciplinary field of research.

Publication Title Anthropozoologica
Volume 50
Issue 2
Pages 123-150
ISBN/ISSN 0761-3032
DOI 10.5252/az2015n2a5
Language English
Author Address UMR 7209 Archeozoologie, Archeobotanique: Societes, Pratiques et Environnement, CNRS, Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universites, case postale 56, 57 rue Cuvier, F-75231 Paris Cedex 05, France.vigne@mnhn.fr
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Tags
  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animals
  3. Anthropology
  4. Archaeology
  5. Asia
  6. Commonwealth of Nations
  7. Crops
  8. Culture
  9. Cyprus
  10. data
  11. Developing countries
  12. Domestication
  13. Europe
  14. Farms
  15. Humans
  16. Mammals
  17. Mediterranean region
  18. Men
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. Plants
  21. Primates
  22. sociology
  23. Threshold Countries
  24. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed