Animals and History


Figure 1.--This 1905 photograph shows 'Donkey Boys' (Groupe de Bourriquieres) in Cairo Egypt. It was in Egypt that the wild ass was first domesticated. It was the first beast of burden available ti humans and plyed a ky role in terestrial trade and with itbthe spread if ideas. Wht is interestung about this image is that despite being taken in the 20th century, the Arab world was so bavkward that it could have been tken a millenium earlier.

One of the cornerstones of humam civilization is the domestication of animals. Human civilization is barely conceivable without domesticated animals, although civilization in the Americas developed wkith much less aid of domesticated animals. Geneticists in recent years have made importnt discoveries bout the domestication process. The domestication actually began before civilization. The dog appears to be the first animal man domesticated. They proved useful in helping the hunts of hunter gthers. It appears that dogs first tamed and bred in China. Geneticists report that about almost all (perhaps 95 percent) of modern dogs have descended from just a few wild dogs domesticate in China. This is interesting because agriculture and civilization developed last in China of the four great river valley civilizations. Dogs of course were espcially useful to hunter-gatherers more than agriculturists. Animal husbandry or the raising of domesticated animals is believed to have appears to have occurred at about the same time agriculture began launching civilization. Two of the most important were goats and sheep were domesticated in the Middle East (abour 10,000 BC). Swine were domesticated from Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa). Humans in both Europe and Asia apear to have domesticatied wild boar independently (about 7.000 BC). Animal Husbandry is of enormous economic importance. They gave humans access to important animal resources using pasture rather than having to expend time and energy in hunting them down. The horse was another important domesticated animal, but of more military as well as economic importance. Geneticists now believe that the horse was first domesticated on the Eurasian Steppe, probably in what is now the Ukraine (probsnly about 4000-3500 BC). The donkey (burro) and camel proved valuable beasts of burden making trade possible over distances like the Silk Road. The humble donkey may be thd most underappreciatedoif all animls. Not only was the donkey important in agriculture and trade, it was commonly unappreciated as a vital animal in warfare.

Chronology

Animals appeared in cave paitings at the dawn of humanity. They were mostly animals to be hunted before the idea of domestication developed. One of the cornerstones of humam civilization is the domestication of animals. Human civilization is barely conceivable without domesticated animals, although civilization in the Americas developed wkith much less aid of domesticated animals. Geneticists in recent years have made importnt discoveries bout the domestication process. The domestication actually began before civilization. The dog appears to be the first animal man domesticated. They proved useful in helping the hunts of hunter gthers. It appears that dogs first tamed and bred in China. Geneticists report that about almost all (perhaps 95 percent) of modern dogs have descended from just a few wild dogs domesticate in China. This is interesting because agriculture and civilization developed last in China of the four great river valley civilizations. Dogs of course were espcially useful to hunter-gatherers more than agriculturists. Animal husbandry or the raising of domesticated animals is believed to have appears to have occurred at about the same time agriculture began launching civilization. Two of the most important were goats and sheep were domesticated in the Middle East (abour 10,000 BC). Swine were domesticated from Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa). Humans in both Europe and Asia apear to have domesticatied wild boar independently (about 7.000 BC). Animal Husbandry is of enormous economic importance. They gave humans access to important animal resources using pasture rather than having to expend time and energy in hunting them down. The horse was another important domesticated animal, but of more military as well as economic importance. Geneticists now believe that the horse was first domesticated on the Eurasian Steppe, probably in what is now the Ukraine (probsnly about 4000-3500 BC). The donkey (burro) and camel proved valuable beasts of burden making trade possible over distances like the Silk Road. The humble donkey may be thd most underappreciatedoif all animls. Not only was the donkey important in agriculture and trade, it was commonly unappreciated as a vital animal in warfare. The donkey actually made war, as opposed to localized raiding, possible. An army of any size could not move any significan distance without a way of transporting weapons, food, water, and other supplies. And the donkey provided a way to move these supplies. Geneticists believe that wild asses in northeast Africa are the ancestors of modern donkeys.

Importance

The role of animals in human developd is more important than often recognized. Animals are important to important to human society for a variety of reasons. Animals were first domesticated to assist hunter-gathering people and than much later by agriculturists and pastoralists as they subsequently developed. Dogs even before the devlopmnt of civilization extended the capabilities and success rates of hunters adding added sences and range to hunters. They also provided gurd capabilities. Dogs in addition aided hearding people and agiculturists. Civilization devloped because agriculture increased human productivity. And animals not only assisted farmers in a variety of ways to increase productivity, but also provided a range of valube products including meat, milk, eggs, hides as well as other material. An important part of the development of civilization is animals and man's ability to both use them and shape them through selective breeding significantly affected the march of civilization. One anthropologist points out that the Native American people without suitable animals to assist with trade were thus handicapped in their development. [Diamond] Limited trade meant limitations on the exchange of ideas.

Civilization

An important part of the development of civilization is animals and man's ability to both use them and shape them through selective breeding significantly affected the march of civilization. Animals appeared in cave paibtings at the dawn of humanity. They were mostly animals to be hunted before the idea of domestication developed. Animals were first domesticated to assist hunter-gathering people and than much later by agriculturists and pastoralists as they subsequently developed. The role of animals in human developd is more important than often recognized. The dog became important to huntergather's both in hunting and security. The dog's sence of smell and hearing helped to extend human senses. This made it easier to hunt. The donkey was vital in the spread of commerce and trading which also meant the spread and sharing of ideas. Horses became vital in warfare, especially after the rather small Steppe ponies were bread to create larger animals with greatr size and stamina. And horses bread with donkies created the mule, a more robut beast of birden than the donkey. Sheep, cattle, and pigs once domesticated proved animals of great value and utility. Domesticating these animals privided sources of protein that ee much easier tomobtain than hunting as well as essentially availiable when the owner wanted. Camels greatly increased the carrying capacity of caravans and the abiloty to cross deserts. This lead to opening the historic Silk Road. Cats helped agiculturists control rodent populations. One anthropologist points out that the Native American people without suitable animals to assist with trade were thus handicapped in their development. [Diamond] Limited trade mean limitations on the exchange of ideas.

Warfare

Animals have played a role in warfare from the beginning of time and a very important role. The horse was the primary animal involved in warfare, but many others were involved including dogs, donkeys, mules, elephants, pigeons, and others. Many of the earliest battles in recorded history were charriot battles in which horses played critical roles. Alexander came facr to face with war elephants when he reached India. Hanibal used African elephabts to smash into the Italian Peninsula in his wars with Rome. The horse was central to the Mognol warriors that carved out the greatest empire in history. The mounted knight and war horse were central to medieval conflicts. They did not always guarantee victory. The over confident French nobility during the Hundred Years War atacked the badly outnumbered with magnificent mounts and full armor and were cut down by mud and English bow men at Agincourt . H+orses and dogs played key role in the campaigns of the Spanish Conquistadores. In turn, escaped horses led to wild horses and transformed the Great Plains. They were able to prevent the Spanish and later the Mexuicans from expanding north. With the development gunpowder, horses into the 20th century moved artillery. Calvalry was an imprtant parts of the great battles of the Napoleonic Wars. We hope to create pages on the various wars describing the roles played by animals. At the present time we only have pages on World War I and World War II. World War II is famous as a mechanized war, but in fact anomals were used extnsively, especially draft animals.

Selection Criterion

An interesting question is why certain animals were selected for domestication. To be selected for domestication, an animal had to meet important criteria. Of great importance it had to thtive on food that was not needed or even attractive to humans, this included pasture (grass) or vermin or table scraps. They also needed to grow and mature rapidly so that farmers could gain some benefit in a short period of time. Also useful is that the animal has what be called a 'pleasant' disposition. Theis presumably eased early adoption and the se;ective breeding problem. This rules out most carnivors. Also useful is that the animal shouldn't panic easily. An exception hered is animals with herd instincts. Such animals remin together making it possible for humans to herd them. And the domestication of dogs greatly assisted in this process.

Geographic Destribution


Breeding

Breeding was important to domestication. For still unknon reasins, some znimzls have not proven amenable yo selective brdeading. Animals like zebras and African wild dogs have proven resistent to domestication through selective breeding. It was once thought that selective breeding domesticating animls took place thousands of years. Here recent work on breeding has demonstrated that major changes can be achieved in very few generations.

Specific Animals


Camel

Camels greatly increased the carrying capacity of caravans and the ability to cross deserts. This lead to opening the historic Silk Road. The Camel first appeared in North America. From North America they spread west across the Bearing Sea land bridge to East Asia and south into South America. The South Amerian caneloids became llamas and their more exotic related species, alpacas, and vicuņas. It is the western migration that developed into modern camels. The camels in East Asia gradually spread further west to Central Asia and Iran and Arabia. (and also south to South America where they became llamas and vicunas and alpacas). The camels in North Americawent extincr, probably during the Ice Age. They survived in Asia and were eventually brought to North Africa as domesticated animal. It was people in Central Asia who first domesticate camels. Camels had the ability to carry goods over long distances with little water. They proved very useful in crossing the Gobi Desert of Central Asia and it was here that they were first domesticated. This occured long after other livestock animals (cows, sheep, and pigs) were domsticated. Archeologists believe that this occurred about the same time horses from Central Asia were domesticated (3000 BC). Camels are not as tame as the earlier domesticated livestock animals. Camels were introduced to North Africa by Arab traders gradually moving west. Camels were so valuable that eventually wild camels weretracked down and caotured. As aesult domesticated camels were being used from China west to Morocco. They were critical in the fabeled Silk Road which crossed Central Asia as well as the trabhs-Sagaran trade routes connecting Sub-Saharan Africa with the Mediterranean World. Trade across the Sahara was at first conducted by horses and donkey, but this became increasingly difficult as the North Africa interior got dryer and the desert began to form and grow in area. This significantly limited trans-Saharamn commerce. The horse and donkey were not suited for long distance treks over such arrid teraine. Trahns-Saharan trade would have been limited had it not been for the Camel, The dromedary, or one-humped camel, is native to the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. They were introduced to the Sahara as part of trade caravans from the Arabian Peninsula (about 200 AD). Unlike the horses it replaced, the camel was perfectly suited to the harsh Sahara climate. Its soft feet also allowed it to easily move over sand. The camels of course did not carry the slaves, but the caravans with which they moved could not have crossed the Sahara without the camels. Even when the cammel first appeared in North Africa, its use was limited by the lack of a pack saddle accomodating heavy loads. As a result, ancient civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persians, Greeks, and Romans) made little use of the camel. The donkey was the most common pack animal in the ancient world, but they could not carry large loads or cross arid rerraine without water. An unknown individual in Central Asia finally invented an effective pack saddle (500 AD). This was the final piece in making the cammel an indespensable animal for people living in or near large deserts. Soon after this the Arab outburst from Arabia occured and the Caliphate was founded. The camel with its uniquiqe capabilities became strongly associated with the Arabs, especilly Arab traders. Trade routes developed between North Africa and the Sahel in ancient times. The Ghana Empire was the first great trading Empire (4th century AD). We are unsure to what extent they used camels, but subsequent empires did. One source believes that the cammel was being widely used in Saharan trade routes (1000 AD). It could have been earlier. It is at this time that Muslim invaders brought camels into the Subcimtinet as the began the invasion of India.

Cats

Cats helped agiculturists control rodent populations. They were of emormous importance in ancient Egypt.

Dogs

There were for many years uncertainty about the origins of the modern dog. Researchers speculated abbout wolves, African wild dogs, and cayotes. Thahks to DNA work, we now know that that the modern domestic dog evolved from wolves. Dogs are one of the two most common pets. Pet is, howver, a very modern concept. Dogs are believed to be the oldest domesticated animal. Clearly there were mutual benefits to the relationship. Dogs are believed to have been a major asset to prehistoric man. Anthropologists can only speculate about the origins of the relationship between the dog and man. The archeological record suggested something like 10,000-12,000 years ago. DNA research has upturned this assessment. Researchers using Mitochondrial DNA have come with estimates more like 100,000 years ago. This means dogs were with our abcestors as we were becoming human. It appears that dogs first tamed and bred in China. Geneticists report that about almost all (perhaps 95 percent) of modern dogs have descended from just a few wild dogs domesticate in China. This is interesting because agriculture and civilization developed last in China of the four great river valley civilizations. Dogs of course were espcially useful to hunter-gatherers more than agriculturists. They proved useful in helping the hunts of hunter gatherers. Dogs werre of enormous benefit to hunter-gathering people, increasing their hunting capabilituies and thus survival skills in a very dangerous world. Thus dogs are believed to have played a key role in the final evolution of man and the success of a very small population. The domestication of dogs began at a much earlier point that that of cats. Dogs helped hunters at the hunter-gather stage and assisted pastoralists as agriculture began to develop. The dog became important to huntergather's both in hunting and security. The dog's sence of smell and hearing helped to extend human senses. This made it easier to hunt. Dogs played a role in both World War I and World War II.

Donkeys

The donkey (burro) and camel proved valuable beasts of burden making trade possible over distances like the Silk Road. The donkey was the first beast of burden, millenia bfore the camel. The humble donkey may be thd most underappreciated of all animls. Not only was the donkey important in agriculture and trade, it was commonly unappreciated as a vital animal in warfare. The donkey actually made war, as opposed to localized raiding, possible. An army of any size could not move any significan distance without a way of transporting weapons, food, water, and other supplies. And the donkey provided a way to move these supplies. Geneticists believe that wild asses (Equus africanus asinusin) of northeast Africa which inhabited what is now Somalia and Sudan (Nunia) are the ancestors of modern donkeys. The humble donkey was vital in the spread of commerce and trading which also meant the spread and sharing of ideas. Historinas believe that the donkey is the ancestor of the wild ass (Equss africanus. These animals appear to have been captured and domesticated in Egypt and western Asia (Mesopotamia) (around 2800-2500 B.C.). This was, however, just the beginning. It took another millenium that the donkey became the common means of transportation through the Old World (1000 BC). We know about the domestication of donkeys because it occured so early, perhaps about 3000 BC. Archaeological finds and ancient art tell us little until anout this time. King Tutankhamen's tomb contained depictions of wild ass hunts. Donkeys were used for a great range of purposes by ancient people. The animals were first hunted and then domesticated. Once domesticated They provided a means of transportation for agricultural goods, humans, and trade goods. The donkey was the firt beast of burden available to ancient people. Humans crossed the Bearing Sea Ice Bridge before donkeys were domesticated. Native amercans thus had to develop thir civilizations without beast of burden. Andean people du have the llama, but it could carry realtively small loads and away from the andes here was not beast of burden at all. Evntually hoeses were bred with donkeys, producing the mule an animal capable of much grater loads than the donkey. Donkeys found their way to the New World through the voyage of Christopher Columbus. He aided in the migration of these animals when he brought four males and two females to America. Once in the Americas, they were bred and produced mule offspring. The mules were used by the Spanish throughout their conquests. It was not until the gold rush that donkeys become increasingly important in America. During this time, donkeys were used for a variety of purposes. including hauling gold and silver across mountainous teraine so it could be shipped back to Spain and to China.

Elephants

Elephants were the tanks of the ancient world. They were extensively used by armies in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. These socities and the military conflicts between them are not well reported in European historie so the military use of elephants is undereported. The first Europeans to come into contact with them was Alexander when after smashing Persian armies, invaded India. We know little about the use of epephabts in Africa. It appear to have been limuted because advanced civilizations did not emerge in sub-Saharan Africa where elephants are found. We do note Hanibals use of elephants in the Punic War. The Carthagnians were the ancient civilization most in contact with Subsahran Afica.

Fowl


Horses

Horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art along withb other animals (about 30,000 BC). The depictions suggest that they were wild animals and at first hunted for meat like other wild animals. How and when horses were domesticated is a matter of historical debate. The general consensus is that horses were domesticated on the Eurasian Steppes (about 4000-3500 BC). It is possible that the first horses were kept for their meat rather than as working animals. Within about half a century, the horse was being employed as a draft animal across much of Europe and Asia. Over the several thousands of years, intensive breeding programs resulted in a domesticated animal which was much larger and stronger than the original wild horse. And with the invention of the horse collar and later the saddle and stirrups, the horse became arguably most important domesticated animal in human history. (At least in Eurasia and Northern Africa, The horse was not at first critical in warfare. The horse became the animal of primary military importance. Until the invention of strirups, they could not be used as an effective weapons platform. Horses gradually became vital in warfare, especially after the rather small Steppe ponies were bred to create larger animals with greatr size and stamina. And horses bread with donkies created the mule, a more robut beast of burden than the donkey. The first use of the horse in warfare was for chariots. The chariot played a huge role in ancient battlefields. We are not sure when the chariot was invented, but burials have been found (about 2000 BC). It was a deadly mobile weapon platform. The Persians developed a defensive weapon. Darius III used Iron caltrops against Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela in Persia (331 BC). [Quintus Curtius] Much later striups were invented which made for modern calvalry. The strirup made the horse itself an effective weapons platform in its own right.

Livestock

Sheep, cattle, and pigs once domesticated proved animals of great value and utility. Domesticating these animals privided sources of protein that ee much easier tomobtain than hunting as well as essentially availiable when the owner wanted. Swine is the term for domesticated pigs. Swine were domesticated from Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa). Humans in both Europe and Asia apear to have domesticatied wild boar independently (about 7.000 BC).

Sources

Diamomd, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997).

Quintus Curtius (IV.13.36).






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Created: 8:19 PM 9/3/2014
Last updated: 10:43 AM 10/10/2015