Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Domestication: Definition and Overview

  • Melinda A. ZederEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_71

Introduction

The domestication of plants and animals represents a key turning point in human history. This first foray into genetic engineering created new varieties of plants and animals that could be grown around the world – most often at the expense of other species that remained outside a domestic partnership with humans. The development of agricultural economies based on domesticates is arguably the central factor in the loss of global biodiversity. It transformed earth’s landscapes and its atmosphere. It fueled a population explosion of agro-pastoralists and has been a cornerstone of increasingly complex societies around the world. Understanding when, where, how, and, above all, why humans and certain plant and animal species began on their journeys into domestication remains an enduring and rewarding area of inquiry of archaeological research.

Answering these central questions requires a solid understanding of just what domestication is – and here there is a decided lack of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Blumler, M. & R. Byrne. 1991. The ecological genetics of domestication and the origins of agriculture. Current Anthropology 32: 23-54.Google Scholar
  2. Clutton-Brock, J. 1994. The unnatural world: behavioural aspects of humans and animals in the process of domestication, in A. Manning & J.A. Serpell (ed.) Animals and human society: changing perspectives: 23-35. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. De Wet, J.M. & J.R. Harlan. 1975. Weeds and domesticates: evolution in the man-made habitat. Economic Botany 29: 99-107.Google Scholar
  4. Dobney, K. & G. Larson. 2006. Genetics and animal domestication: new windows on an elusive process. Journal of Zoology 269: 261-71.Google Scholar
  5. Hecker, H. 1982. Domestication revisited: its implications for faunal analysis. Journal of Field Archaeology 9: 217-236.Google Scholar
  6. Ingold, T. 1984. Time, social relationships and the exploitation of animals: anthropological reflections on prehistory, in J. Clutton-Brock & C. Grigson (ed.) Animals and archaeology, Volume 3: early herders and their flocks(British Archaeological Reports, International series 202): 3-12. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.Google Scholar
  7. Jaenicke-Després, V., E.S. Buckler, B.D. Smith, M.T.P. Golber, A. Cooper, J. Doebley & S. Pääbo. 2003. Early allelic selection in maize as revealed by ancient DNA. Science 302: 1206-8.Google Scholar
  8. Larson, G., U. Albarella, K. Dobney, P. Rowly-Conwy, J. Schibler, A. Tresset, J.-D. Vigne, C.J. Edwards, A. Schlumbaum, Al. Dinu, A. Balçsescu, G. Dolman, A. Tagliacozzo, N. Manaseryan, P. Miracle, L. Van Wijngaarden-Bakker, M. Masseti, D.G. Bradley & A. Cooper. 2007. Ancient DNA, pig domestication, and the spread of the Neolithic into Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104: 15276-281.Google Scholar
  9. Meadow, R.H. 1989. Osteological evidence for the process of animal domestication, in J. Clutton-Brock (ed.) The walking larder: patterns of domestication, pastoralism, and predation: 80-90. London: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  10. O’Connor, T.P. 1997. Working at relationships: another look at animal domestication. Antiquity 71: 149-56.Google Scholar
  11. Rindos, D. 1984. The origins of agriculture: an evolutionary perspective. Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. Schultz, T.R., U.G. Mueller, C.R. Currie & S. Rehner. 2005. Reciprocal illumination: a comparison of agriculture in humans and in fungus-growing ants, in F. Vega & M. Blackwell (ed.) Ecological and evolutionary advances in insect-fungal associations: 149-90. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Smith, B.D. 2001. Low level food production. Journal of Archeological Research 9: 1-43.Google Scholar
  14. - In press. A cultural niche construction theory of initial domestication. Biological Theory.Google Scholar
  15. Tanno, K. & G. Willcox. 2006. How fast was wild wheat domesticated? Science 311: 1886.Google Scholar
  16. Terrell, J.E., J.P. Hart, S. Barut, N. Cellinese, A. Curet, T. Denham, C.M. Kusimba, K. Latinis, R. Oka, J. Palka, M.E.D. Pohl, K.O. Pope, P.R. Williams, H. Haines & J.E. Staller. 2003. Domesticated landscapes: the subsistence ecology of plant and animal domestication. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 10: 323-67.Google Scholar
  17. Uerpmann, H.-P. 1996. Animal domestication - accident or intention? in D.R. Harris (ed.) The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia: 227-37. Washington (DC): Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  18. Zeder, M.A. 2006. Central questions in the domestication of plants and animals. Evolutionary Anthropology 15: 105-17.Google Scholar
  19. - 2012a. The broad spectrum revolution at 40: resource diversity, intensification, and an alternative to optimal foraging explanation. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31: 241-64.Google Scholar
  20. - 2012b. The domestication of animals. Journal of Anthropological Research 68: 161-90.Google Scholar
  21. Zeder, M.A. & B.D. Smith. 2009. A conversation on agriculture: talking past each other in a crowded room. Current Anthropology 50: 681-91.Google Scholar
  22. Zeder, M.A., D.G. Bradley, E. Emshwiller & B.D. Smith. (ed.) 2006. Documenting domestication: new genetic and archaeological paradigms. Berkeley: University of California PressGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Bar Yosef, O. & A. Befer-Cohen. 2002. Facing environmental crisis. Societal and cultural changes at the transition from the Younger Dryas to the Holocene in the Levant, in R.T.J. Cappers & S. Bottema (ed.) Studies in early Near Eastern productions, subsistence, and environment: 55-66. Berlin: Ex Oriente.Google Scholar
  2. Bökönyi, S. 1989. Definitions of domestication, in J. Clutton-Brock (ed.) The walking larder: patterns of domestication, pastoralism, and predation: 1-4. Cambridge: Unwin.Google Scholar
  3. Budiansky, S. 1992. The covenant of the wild: why animals chose domestication. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  4. Cauvin, J. 2000. The birth of the gods and the origins of agriculture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, M.N. 1977. The food crisis in prehistory. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Ducos, P. 1989. Defining domestication: a clarification, in J. Clutton-Brock (ed.) The walking larder: patterns of domestication, pastoralism, and predation: 28-30. Cambridge: Unwin.Google Scholar
  7. Harris, D. 1996. Introduction: themes and concepts in the study of early agriculture, in D. Harris (ed.) The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia: 1-9. Washington (DC): Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hayden, B. 1995. A new overview of domestication, in: T.D. Price & A.-B. Gebauer (ed.) Last hunters, first farmers: new perspectives on the transition to agriculture: 273-300. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hemmer, H. 1990. Domestication: the decline of environmental appreciation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Hodder, I. 2001. Symbolism and the origins of agriculture in the Near East. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 11: 107-12.Google Scholar
  11. Jarman, M.R. & P.F. Wilkinson. 1972. Criteria of animal domestication, in E.S. Higgs (ed.) Papers in economic prehistory: studies by members and associates of the British Academy major research project in the early history of agriculture: 83-96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Kennett, D. & B. Winterhalder. (ed.) 2006. Behavioral ecology and the transition to agriculture: 1–21. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Moray, D. 1994. The early evolution of the domestic dog. American Scientist 82: 336-47.Google Scholar
  14. O’Brien, M.J. & K.N. Laland. In press. Genes, culture, and agriculture: an example of human niche construction. Current Anthropology.Google Scholar
  15. Piperno, D.R. & D.M. Pearsall. 1998. The origins of agriculture in the lowland Neotropics. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  16. Price, E.O. 1984. Behavioral aspects of animal domestication. Quarterly Review of Biology 59: 1-32.Google Scholar
  17. Richerson, P., R. Boyd & R. Bettinger. 2001. Was agriculture impossible during the Pleistocene by mandatory during the Holocene? A climate change hypothesis. American Antiquity 66: 387-412.Google Scholar
  18. Russell, N. 2002. The wild side of animal domestication. Society and Animals 10: 285-302.Google Scholar
  19. Smith, B.D. 2007. Niche construction and the behavioral context of plant and animal domestication. Evolutionary Anthropology 16: 188-99.Google Scholar
  20. - 2007. The ultimate ecosystem engineers. Science 315: 1797-8.Google Scholar
  21. Watkins, T. 2010. New light on Neolithic revolution in Southwest Asia. Antiquity 84: 621-34.Google Scholar
  22. Zeder, M.A. 2011. The origins of agriculture in the Near East. Current Anthropology 52: 221-35.Google Scholar
  23. - 2012. Pathways to animal domestication, in P. Gepts, T.R. Famula, R.L. Bettinger, S.B. Bush, A.B. Damania, P.E. McGuire & C.O. Qualset (ed.) Biodiversity in agriculture: domestication, evolution and sustainability: 227-59. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Zeder, M.A., E. Emshwiller, B.D. Smith & D.G. Bradley. 2006. Documenting domestication: the intersection of genetics and archaeology. Trends in Genetics 22: 139-55.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in Human Ecology and Archaeobiology, Department of AnthropologyNational Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA