By Alma, 1st December 2023

Domestication interest as the most momentous change in the Holocene period of human history. The domestication of plants and animals is the most important stage of development in the Holocene. The domestication of animals was rooted in the tendency of all peoples to tame or take care of wild animals. The word domestication means the act or process of domesticating something or someone or the state of being domesticated. It is the adaption of something to meet the expectation or tastes of ordinary people.

Image representation of animal domestication of ancient cultures

Most theories say that domestication of animals comes from various wild forms, some of which still live today some are extinct, and yet others are exiting the picture. Genetics, immunology, reproduction and capacity, comparative anatomy, and palaeontology are used to determine or deduce the origin of the domestic animal. Domestication or the taming of wild animals was a longtime process that man applied to animals up to metamorphic the animal's biological traits as convenient to human social and economic targets. The domestication of animals made a major change possible for man promoted from hunter stage to producer. 

Human societies developed differently over the same historical times in various human settlements hence domestication occurred in specific terms like central and southeastern Asia, North America and Asia Minor, Europe, and central and south America. Most domesticated animals are dogs, Buffalo, cats, cows, and Hen. Domestication is meant to get the animals to adapt the man-made circumstances, and protect against bad weather. for them, it is new life and breeding condition, feeding, sheltering, grooming, etc. It led to physiological changes which based on the functions led to morphological changes. Wild animals have bulk brains larger than domesticated animals. Domesticated animals' brain was shrunken respectively for behavioural emotions. The domestic animal's skin is smoother and the hair is thinner, less dense, and silkier. The production capacity of domestic animals highly increased.

The reproduction function underwent major changes in domestic animals. Normally wild animal cubs are born in spring as the mothers produce more milk at such time. but in the case of domesticated animals, they reproduced all over the period. Through domestication, animals faced physiological and morphological changes. Animal domestication was a complex process of developing human-animal relationships and 2 behaviours that varied according to the animal form and the human population involved under specific circums.

 If we look at the contribution of South Asia in the domestication of animals, we can see that the indigenous wild fauna of northwestern South Asia is largely Indo-Malayan in the lowlands of the Indus River system and continuing farther east and south; it is mostly Palearctic through the western and northern highlands and onto the Iranian plateau. Many large animals other than domesticates are now uncommon, and their ranges have been reduced as a result of millennia of human hunting and terrain modification. The small bovids blackbuck and chinkara, on the other hand, can still be found across much of Sub-Himalayan India. In Pakistan, the blackbuck has been hunted to extinction as has most large game, but the chinkara is still found across Baluchistan and onto the eastern Iranian plateau. Wild boar lives throughout much of the sub-continent as do the nilgai, chowsingha, sambar, chital, and muntjac. The archaeofaunal record shows that swamp deer and hog deer have more restricted distributions today than they did in the past, as do elephants and rhinoceros.

Historically, the onager was found throughout the northwest, including the western highlands, but it is now restricted to preserves in Kutch and North Gujarat. Wild goats and sheep of different species are found throughout the western and northern highlands. The bezoar, urial, and mouflon, as well as the wild water buffalo, are discussed more below. South Asian wild cattle are extinct and can only be found in palaeontological and archaeological records. The initial domestication of both goat (Capra Hircus) and sheep (Ovis Aries) is generally thought to have taken place in Southwest Asia. The first managed or domesticated bovid in northwestern South Asia was the goat, evidence which comes from the earliest levels at the site of Mehrgrah located at the foot of the Bolan Pass in eastern Baluchistan. Over six metres of stacked strata reflect a significant Aceramic Neolithic settlement that includes nine periods of dwelling remains alternated with graves. Three elliptical pit graves of women were dug into the earliest habitation level, with goats under three months old arranged in semicircles around their flexed legs. Two of the burials produced five children, while the third produced four. Burying such a number of young animals together with human burials means that domesticated animals must have been readily available, which means that at least some of the goats were cared for, domestication, or were domesticated.


The phylogeography and evolutionary history of different sheep are more complicated than for goats. The wild sheep found today in the mountains of eastern Baluchistan is the urial (Ovis Vignei). The earliest evidence for sheep exploitation comes from the basal 3 deposits excavated at Mehrgrah. By the middle of the Aceramic Neolithic and continuing through the Ceramic Neolithic sheep bones are at least as common as those from goats. The domestic zebu cattle's ancestor (Bos indicus) The domestic zebu, distinguished by its hump, drooping ears, and wide dewlap, is also distinguished by a physiology that allows it to handle heat stress better than taurine cattle (Bos taurus). As a result, it is highly adapted to tropical and subtropical environments ranging from eastern Iran to southern China, as well as across mainland and island Southeast Asia, where it remains the major form of domestic cattle. By evaluating both changes in size and proportion, the archaeofaunal record can support the local domestication of zebu in northern South Asia. Cattle bones are not common in the early layers of Aceramic Neolithic Mehrgrah. By the conclusion of Period I, however, they account for between 40% and 60% of the remaining ungulates. Similarly, large proportions survive at Mehrgrah in later periods and are common at several fourth, third, and second millennium BC. sites in northwestern South Asia and elsewhere in India, indicating the importance of cattle for both primary and secondary commodities. 

The domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) is another notable large bovine of South and Southeast Asia that continues to have a significant impact on the regions and global economies. Archaeologically, our understanding of water buffalo domestication and exploitation is limited. In northwestern South Asia, water buffalo postcranial specimens have been identified from the early levels of the Aceramic Neolithic at Mehrgrah, horn core fragments from the Ceramic Neolithic, and a complete horn core from the Chalcolithic. the evidence for wild buffalo in North Gujarat and both wild and especially domestic populations at Dholavira, this region is important to explore for evidence of local water buffalo domestication.

 In India, the history of domestication could be traced as far back as the Mesolithic times (6000 -3000 bp). Even though some of the Mesolithic sites indicate semi-sedentary occupation and demographic increase in early Holocene times, the faunal remains have not been subjected to systematic evolution to explicate the problems of animal domestication and herding. The data on the animals linked with prehistoric cultures is frequently derived from their real remains. Secondary evidence includes animal images on ceramics, terracotta figurines, and paintings in caves and rock shelters, in addition to the skeletons. The secondary evidences, because of their imaginary nature are not so valid in this study of prehistoric animals as the actual animal remains. The domestication of animals widely spread in the 4 Chalcolithic to Neolithic and Iron ages in India.

cave art representation

In the Pre-Harappan and Harappan cultures, the animals depicted on pottery are reported from Kalibangan. These animals include stag, ibex, bull, duck, etc. pointing out the presence of the painted antelope and bull motifs at Rojadi. The remains of tortoises, turtles, and fish are common on all the sites. the presence of crocodiles from Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. In the Chalcolithic cultures in Central India, at Nagda, two species of tortoise are identified. Crocodiles and shells remain are also noticed. As in Prabhas Patan, both wild and domestic pigs are distinct at Navadatoli. The profusion of pig remains at this site demonstrates that these animals were vital to the prehistoric Navadatolians food economy. The creatures depicted here include an ox goat, a deer, a dog, a fox, a tiger, a panther, fowl, a pigeon, a peacock, a vulture, and a tortoise. Neolithic cultures in South India also show animal domestication. The faunal assemblages collected at Brahmagiri are characterized by the absence of pig, the addition of domestic fowl and land snails, Freshwater mussels, and pond snails reported from Maski and Tekkalakotta. Ibex, bull, peacock, and serpent are depicted on the pottery of Tekkalakotta. Paiyampally skeletal remains have also been discovered. The Neolithic level bones depict bovid animals such as sheep, pigs, chital, jungle cat, rhinoceros, and poultry. And cattle wase the predominant domestic animal in the prehistoric cultures of India. Sheep, goat, pig, and buffalo are not reported from all the sites.

The absence of pigs from some of the Neolithic cultures of South India is noticed where this animal is identified mostly from the Megalithic cultures. It is possible to assume that this animal is a later introduction to the South from the neighbouring Chalcolithic cultures especially from northern Deccan where it was a main part of the diet of the inhabitants. Evidence from all sites shows that these animals were slaughtered for food. It is to be noted that present-day domestic animals are found in domesticated form even in the prehistoric periods. The earliest evidence of domestication in India comes from the Mesolithic cultures of Adamgarh and Bagor. Both domestic and wild animals are identified from these sites. The type of tools obtained from here reveals the more efficient way of hunting practiced by the inhabitants. In the later phases of cultural development, the prehistorians paid more attention. .to domestication and agriculture rather than hunting. Hence, food supply was the major factor involved in the process of animal husbandry. 

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