Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 8:53-81 (2014)

Pace and process in the emergence of animal husbandry in Neolithic Southwest Asia

Benjamin S. Arbuckle

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
CB#3115, 301 Alumni Building,
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3115 USA

Abstract: Discussions of animal domestication in Southwest Asia often describe a homogenous process in which sheep, goats, cattle and pigs were domesticated in relatively rapid succession producing a productive and integrated ‘barnyard complex’ which then helped fuel the rapid expansion of Neolithic farmers into neighboring regions. A critical examination of the data, however, suggests that the development of systems of animal husbandry took place over several millennia and followed markedly different trajectories in different regions within Southwest Asia and even at neighboring sites. In this paper I explore the development of the Neolithic ‘barnyard complex’ with an emphasis on its long gestation period, regional and local scale variability, and the importance of local context and histories in the construction of heterogeneous Neolithic animal economies.

Key words: animal domestication; Southwest Asia; Neolithic; livestock

Received 12 November 2013; accepted 6 February 2014; published online 11 February 2014.

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