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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Recent archaeological and genetic research indicates that that by 10,500 years ago at least three livestock species (sheep, goat, and pig) and a number of crop plants had been initially brought under domestication in he Taurus/Zagros Arc, a region that stretches from southeastern Turkey to western Iran. This research examines animal bone assemblages from a number of the small sedentary communities that sprung up in this region at the beginning of the Holocene (12,000-10,5000 BP) that are thought to have given rise to the domestication of these major livestock species. Three related hypothesis are tested: 1) Initial sedentism in the region took place in the context of increased resource opportunity brought about by the stabilization and amelioration of climate in the early Holocene; 2) Sheep, goats, and pigs were domesticated in those parts of the Taurus/Zagros arc where they were most abundant, in order to enhance the security and predictability of resource access in response to localized pressure on resources stemming from sedentism; and 3) Anthropogenic environments created by long term human settlement opened up new niches that were exploited by various species of animals, creating commensal relationships with humans that in certain species led to their domestication (pig, dog, cat).

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