Domestication of Animals
The history of Domestication of Animals is very old. Domestication of useful animals first started in the Mesolithic period when they could domesticate dog around 9000-8000 B.C. Neolithic men picked up this specialized knowledge of domesticating wild animals and brought them under captivity. They could domesticate pig, goat, sheep, cattle, horse, and even elephant so far the evidential reports from the Middle East. It is needless to point out that taming and domescating do not mean the same thing. By domestication, we mean controlled breeding under captivity.
The domesticated animals have played an important role in human social and material life of the past and of the present times. The domesticated animals provide the following things to human society.
Their flesh as food.
Their skins or hides as leather in the manufacture of shoes and garments.
Their hairs as woolen garments which protect them in chill winter.
Their horns are used in the manufacture of combs and other useful articles of day to day use.
Their milk is used as a nutritious drink.
Their dung is used as fuel.
They are the safest and cheapest means of transport; Bullock-carts are extensively used in rural India, even to-day. They are also used as pack-animals and in drawing the ploughs. The sledges of the Eskimos are drawn by dogs and reindeer.
They are used as mount-animals. The horses, camels, elephants were used as mount animals, during war in the historic period. The camels are regarded as the ship of the desert’ by the Arab and the Bedouins.
The dogs are used as a guard against thieves and enemies as they start barking on the arrival of any stranger.
The dog is of great importance in human life. Dogs guard its master’s life and property. The Laps use them in guarding their herds of sheep against the suspected attacks of wolves. The Santhal, Oraon, Munda and other tribals of India take their domesticated dogs in hunting expeditions. They help their masters in this mission. Saint Bernard dogs are used in the arctic zones to guide the travelers who become out of tract and lead them to the nearby pilgrim shelters. In Humburg, the dog’s cart was used by the vendors to carry vegetables to the market. In New Zealand, dog’s hair is often found to be sewn on the cloaks.
Cattle, sheep, and goat were first domesticated in the Neolithic stage. These were being modified into the tamed varieties by controlled breeding. Flesh of these animals, their skins, horns, dung, and milk are being widely used by human being. But animal-milk is not habitually taken by the Mongolian group of people, including the Japanese, Chinese and Indo-chinese. The tribals of India have also apathy towards drinking of animal milk. The Hindus do not take beef traditionally. The Muslims have aversion towards pork.
The domesticated branded pig was imported into Europe from the east. The Australian white pigs are now cultivated throughout the world. In Vedic India wild pigs’ flesh had the ritual acceptance.
The donkeys, horses, camels are considered as transport animals. The donkeys appeared in different Egyptian painting as early as 3000 B.C. In hilly tract, mules (a cross-breed of horse and donkey) are being used to carry load up the hill. The desert-dwellers cannot live without camels. Their entire socio-cultural life revolves around the domestication of camel, their most favorite animal.
The domestication of reindeer is of recent origin, approximately around 499A D. This animal is found to be in common use in North America, Alaska, and West of Bering Strait. The Laps, the Chukchi, the Tungus domesticate reindeer for their various purposes, to be served by them. Ploughs are also drawn by them. They draw carts in the land of the Eskimos.
The poultry birds of various kinds are within the purview of human domestication efforts; Pigeons, fowls, doves, ducks are being maintained by man for flesh and eggs.