chapter  8
7 Pages

Summing up

The way forward
WithJill Goulder

This concluding chapter highlights findings from my detailed analyses that illustrate how insights from modern development studies can provide significant new depth to archaeological investigation, of 4th-3rd millennium BC Mesopotamia and more broadly. The small clues and descriptions of immediate social and economic impacts consequent on the advent of working animals in a range of modern communities shed valuable light on early adaptations in the Ancient Near East. These studies make clear how choice and usage of working animals are firmly based on the differing physiology and behaviour of donkeys and cattle, compounded with elements such as the common cultural avoidance of eating of working donkeys. They underline the social and community adjustments resulting from working-animal adoption, notably the value for small-scale farmers and for women and the disenfranchised. The unrecognised role of the donkey is brought to the foreground, breaking out from the abstraction of “oxen” and the need for deep ploughing, and highlighting the central role of short-distance (donkey) transport. Existing archaeo-anthropological models also fall short of examining the significant new activities and occupations consequent on adoption of such new technology: training, breeding, foddering and husbandry. These new findings provide bottom-up adjustments to higher-level models of the role of working animals in human history.