- Code ARCH6108
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
- ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
- Course subject Archaeology
- Areas of interest Archaeology, Biological Anthropology
A wide range of animal and plant species have been domesticated by people in vastly different social and environmental settings. Domestication is ordinarily considered a Holocene phenomenon, largely restricted to the last c. 11,700 years. However, the human management of animal and plant species, as well as anthropic alteration of habitats, has a much greater time depth. Domestication is usually associated with food production, especially different forms of agriculture. Domesticates facilitated the expansion and intensification of cultivation and animal husbandry through time, thereby enabling the rapid growth of many human societies. Not all human societies domesticated species, and not all species were domesticated for food, plausibly including the earliest animal and plant domesticates.
In this course, we will address a series of questions including:
• How do we define domestication?
• What are the phenotypic and genotypic attributes of domestication and how do these vary between species/groups of species?
• How do we use archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological and ancient DNA evidence to determine when a species was domesticated in the past?
• How did people domesticate animals and plants in the past, where did this occur, and how long did the process take?
• Can we identify domestication syndromes and domestication pathways for groups of plants and animals?
• What were the historical implications of domestication for the societies involved?
• How have domesticatory processes continued to the present-day?
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- discuss the multi-disciplinary literature on plant and animal domestication, with a focus on how phenotypes and genotypes changed during the domestication process;
- critically assess the consilience of phenotypic and genotypic attributes associated with domestication;
- evaluate the respective contributions of species biology, environmental setting and human practices to the domestication process;
- understand the different ways in which animal and plant species were domesticated, including regions of origin, time periods involved and associated social contexts; and
- practically identify phenotypic traits to differentiate wild and domestic species in the archaeological record.
- Research Poster and (5-10 minute) Presentation (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Research Essay (3500 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Practical/Laboratory Exercises (30) [LO 1,5]
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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 42 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 18 hours of practicals/tutorials; and
b) 88 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Barker, G. 2006. The Agricultural Revolution in History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Murphy, D. 2007. People, Plants and Genes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Denham, T.P. 2018. Tracing Early Agriculture in the Highlands of New Guinea: Plot, Mound and Ditch. Oxford: Routledge.
Piperno, D.R. and D.M. Pearsall 1998. The Origins of Agriculture in the Lowland Neotropics. San Diego: Academic Press.
Smith, B.D. 1992. Rivers of Change: Essays on Early Agriculture in the Eastern North America. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books.
Zohary, D., M. Hopf and E. Weiss 2012. Domestication of Plants in the Old World: The Origin and Spread of Domesticated Plants in Southwest Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Denham, T.P., J. Iriarte and L. Vrydaghs (eds.) 2007. Rethinking Agriculture: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.
Harris, D.R. (ed.) 1996. The Origins and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia. London: University College London Press.
Harris, D.R. and G.C. Hillman (eds.) 1989. Foraging and Farming: The Evolution of Plant Exploitation. London: Unwin Hyman.
Stevens, C.J., S. Nixon, M.A. Murray and D.Q. Fuller (eds.) 2016. Archaeology of African Plant Use. New York: Routledge.
Zeder, M., D. Bradley, E. Emschwiller and B.D. Smith (eds.) 2006. Documenting Domestication. Berkeley: University of California Press.
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