The research published today in the journal Antiquity shows the use of domestic animals was widespread in Australia before the arrival of Europeans and, later, Native Australians.
It comes as archaeologists and conservationists debate the way we can better understand how animals were domesticated.
The research, led by Australian archaeologists and anthropologists, looked at the use and ownership of domestic pets in ancient Australia.
It shows that while it was common for people to care for their pets, domestication had a different impact on the way the animals lived.
“There were domestication pressures that led to the domestication of dogs and cats, and this has long been known,” Professor Pauline Burt from the Australian National University said.
“However, until now, there has been a lack of information about the domesticated animals and how they were treated, which was an area of focus of our research.”
We found that there were different patterns of use of animals across different times and places in Australia, and it is unclear how they developed as pets and how these different domesticated animal husbandys came about.
“The researchers found that while there were plenty of domestic dog breeds in the early Bronze Age, most were probably imported from the Levant and other parts of the Middle East.”
What we have here is a very old picture of how the animals were treated and what they were used for,” Professor Burt said.
Professor Burt says the study is an important step in unlocking the story of domestication in Australia.”
This is the first time we’ve been able to reconstruct the story and how domestication is connected to the story about human history and how we interacted with animals in the past,” she said.
The researchers analysed archaeological material from archaeological sites across Australia, including sites in the state of Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.”
If we can look at what the animals did for people in the way of food, clothing and shelter, then we can work out how people in those times might have had the resources to buy and eat the animals they needed.””
This research shows us how we can understand how humans interacted with the animals that we used as pets.”
If we can look at what the animals did for people in the way of food, clothing and shelter, then we can work out how people in those times might have had the resources to buy and eat the animals they needed.
“The research is part of a broader research into the domestications of Australian animals.
In a previous study published in Antiquity, Professor Bartas and co-authors found that the animals used in human and animal husbandy were largely from the Middle Eastern and North African regions.
The research also revealed the domesticating of dogs had a similar impact on how dogs were used in domestic practice.
In addition, the study found that animals were kept for a range of purposes including food storage, hunting, and for ritual purposes, including funeral services.”
The domestication that we see today is a complex story and has a long history,” Professor George White, who is the senior curator of archaeology at the National Museum of Australia, said in a statement.”
Our work suggests that humans were able to manage domestic animals in ways that made them useful to humans and, importantly, to the environment.
“I think this is something that we need to continue to study and investigate in order to understand how domesticated species evolved and how those species have been affected by human and other environmental change.”
The study was published today (Wednesday) in Antiquities.
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