The development of goat and sheep herding during the Levantine Neolithic
This thesis examines the development of goat and sheep herding in the Levant during the Neolithic period, and focuses particularly on the emergence of caprines as major early domesticates and the development of specialised pastoral economies. It is divided into two sections. The first consists of a critical review of published palaeoclimatic, archaeological, archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological data, which are integrated to provide baseline interpretations of caprine domestication and the development of specialised pastoral economies. The second section presents the results of a zooarchaeological analysis of the faunal assemblage from the Neolithic site of 'Ain Ghazal, located in the Jordanian Highlands, which are evaluated in the context of the two baseline interpretations presented in the first section. The relative merits of the different methods by which archaeological caprine remains can be identified to species are also discussed. It is argued that goats were probably first domesticated in or immediately adjacent to the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains during the 10th millennium b.p., and that mouflon were probably first domesticated in the piedmont zones of the Taurus and Zagros Mountains during the first half of the 9th millennium b.p. The independent domestication of goats in the Zagros Mountains during the first half of the 9th millennium b.p. is regarded as a strong possibility. It is concluded that the concepts of there have been a temporal gap between the appearance of the earliest permanent agricultural villages and the earliest domestic caprines, and that significant periods of loose-herding preceded the full domestication of these species, may need to be reconsidered. Pastoral economies during the Levantine Neolithic seem to have been based on sedentary animal husbandry aimed at subsistence-orientated meat production. There is however some evidence that simple forms of distant pastures husbandry, still focused on subsistenceorientated meat production, may have developed during the Neolithic period.