Domestication has played a huge role in human evolution. Whether it’s plants or animals, domestication is an important part of who we are as a culture and how we live. In this article I will discuss what domestication is, how it is detected in the archaeological record, the major theories of agricultural origins and how they compare, and the implications of domestication for humans.
Domestication is the active management of resources leading to the genetic control of a species. Domestication is detected by various pattern in the skeletal remains of animals. They look for a reduction in the number of species being exploited and and increase in those still being used. Next they look for the species being domesticated to get smaller. And too see selective breeding to increase the size of the animal. Then you would find the natural defenses of the animal would be bred out. And finally the sex and age profiles in domesticated populations should be very different from that of the wild populations.
There are five major theories for the origins of domestication. They are the oasis theory, the hilly flanks theory, the marginal environment theory, the food crisis and population expansion theory, and the scheduling changes theory. All of these theories have one major detail that connects them all. There was a change in the environment, either a climate change or a change in population that required the civilizations to control the populations of plants and animals to ensure their survival.
The implications of domestication can be both good and bad. Good implications would include the control of plants and animals to be used for food. You no longer have to go out and look for your food. Also, the domestication of animals such as dogs allows them to be used as a type of protection. The bad implications of domestication can include the over farming of land and the over breeding of animals. The over farming of land occurs when the soil in which you have been planting and harvesting loses all of its nutrition and plants no longer grow. The over breeding of animals can result in a shortage of food supply and possible destruction of crops. If there is not enough food then the animals could start to eat the crops in order to survive.
Domestication was important for the advancement of civilization. With the theories of why people began to domesticate containing the same idea and the fact that domestication happened at about the the same time throughout different cultures, shows that there was some kind of a change in thinking or environment that was needed to take place in order for their cultures to move forward.
Sources: Archaeology: The Science of the Human Past, Mark Q. Sutton, Robert m. Yohe II