Understanding the Role of Domesticated Animals in the Development of Early Complex Societies in Northwestern South Asia

The Secondary Products Revolution model argues that the human exploitation of secondary animal products (milk, wool, and traction) was one of the crucial factors behind the development of complex societies during the Holocene. This research aims to test this model in the context of South Asia, one of the most populous parts of the world today. This project aims to understand human-animal interactions in this part of the world and how they may have shaped the social, political, and economic aspects of the Indus civilization, the earliest civilization of South Asia. This research aims to investigate how animals were raised, exchanged, and consumed, and then contextualize this information with the archaeological observation of cultural, political, and social changes.

It is now well established that animal herding and the utilization of domesticated animals for both dietary and non-dietary purposes were crucial for the Indus people. However, the role of pastoralism and increased consumption of secondary animal products in the development and expansion of this civilization is still understudied. In this project, using δ 13C of carbonate, δ 13C fingerprinting of amino acids, Strontium (Sr) isotope ratios of animal and human remains and δ 13CFA of ceramic residues, we aim to investigate the intensification of herding practices and of the consumption of primary and secondary animal products during pre-Indus, Indus, and post-Indus periods. The majority of the settlements under study are already dated; however, as part of this project, all of these settlements will be dated using AMS and Bayesian statistics, to develop a secure radiometric chronology.

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