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Title: Identifying the beginnings of sheep husbandry in western China
Author: Wang, Yiru
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 4640
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Situated at the two sides of Eurasia, Western Asia and China are both important centres for the origins of agriculture and civilization. Key suites of domestic crops, animals, and technologies were independently developed at these two centres. Scholars have been interested in seeing whether there was communication between these ‘nuclear centres’ in prehistory, and how they were influenced by each other. The domestication of sheep and goat, which first occurred about 10,000 years before present (BP) in the region of modern-day Syria, Turkey, and Iran, has long been assumed as introduced from the West to China, behind which there were population movements and cultural exchanges. However, this hypothesis has not yet been systematically examined. This is because in Western China there is such a complex distribution of wild Caprinae and Gazella species, which all have similar skeletal morphology to domestic sheep (Ovis aries) and goats (Capra hircus), and are difficult to separate from each other based on fragmentary and eroded archaeological remains. This project carries out a systematic osteoscopic and osteometric study of the Caprinae and Gazella in Western China and different Ovis species in Eurasia by examining a large quantity of the modern specimens. Systematic differences in correlating elements between these species were found to be related to the ecology of the animals. These criteria were applied to the archaeological specimens from five sites in Western China from Epipaleolithic era (c. 10,000 BP) to the Bronze Age (c. 3500 BP). Together with other methods, a process of transition from the local wild Caprinae hunting to the adoption of sheep husbandry was discovered. There might be complex interactions between the different animals and humans in the unique ecological and social contexts.
Supervisor: Barker, Graeme ; Miracle, Preston Sponsor: Cambridge Overseas Trust ; Chinese Scholarship Council ; Wenner-Gren Foundation ; Great Britain-China Educational Trust Fund ; Dorothy Garrod Fund ; Anthony Wilkin Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: sheep husbandry ; western china ; osteoscopic ; osteometric ; Eurasia ; Caprinae