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Pastoralism or Household Herding? Problems of Scale and Specialization in Early Greek Animal Husbandry

Paul Halstead
World Archaeology
Vol. 28, No. 1, Zooarchaeology: New Approaches and Theory (Jun., 1996), pp. 20-42
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/124972
Page Count: 23
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Pastoralism or Household Herding? Problems of Scale and Specialization in Early Greek Animal Husbandry
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Abstract

Recent strategies of animal husbandry in Greece range from pastoralism to mixed farming. Pastoralists tend to keep larger herds, schedule grazing to enhance nutrition and productivity, and specialize in particular products for exchange. Each of these tendencies has implications for the species and age/sex composition of livestock which are amenable to archaeozoological investigation. Faunal assemblages from seventh-second millennium BC Greece match small-scale mixed farming better than large-scale pastoralism. Written records from the second millennium BC palaces indicate large-scale specialization in wool production, but as a component of mixed farming 'estates'. In this heterogeneous landscape, pastoralism faces recurrent scarcity of labour, particularly if not subsidized by exchange with farmers. In questioning the existence of pastoralism in prehistoric Greece, this paper stresses the need to consider the full range of recent models of animal husbandry and suggests ways of harnessing archaeozoological evidence to the investigation of pastoralism.

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