Analyzing the process of domestication: Hagoshrim as a case study

Annat Haber*, Tamar Dayan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent excavations at the Neolithic site of Hagoshrim, northern Israel, have yielded a large assemblage of skeletal fragments, representing mostly caprines, cattle and pigs. The three layers of the site's occupation span approximately 2000 years of a crucial period in the domestication of these taxa in the southern Levant, including Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (Layer 6, 7562 ± 85 BP and 7735 ± 55 BP) and the Pottery Neolithic cultures, Jericho IX (Layer 5, 6725 ± 120 BP) and Wadi Raba (Layer 4, 6505 ± 120 BP). Therefore, this site provides an outstanding opportunity to study the process of domestication in a comparative manner, both across taxa and through time. We used kill-off patterns, size reduction and changes in body proportions, and introduced statistical methods to discern the different stages of the domestication process for each taxon. Pig remains reflect simultaneous changes at the end of the 7th millennium BP: Kill-off patterns, size and proportions of cranial and post-cranial elements all change between Layer 5 and 4 with no significant changes between Layer 6 and 5. Gradual changes-both between Layer 6 and 5 and between Layer 5 and 4-were found only for cattle, while caprine remains exhibit no changes throughout the site's occupation. These results can be explained in light of the differences between the taxa in terms of their life history strategies, among other things, that can be viewed as pre-adaptations to domestication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1587-1601
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Cattle
  • Domestication
  • Goats
  • Israel
  • Kill-off patterns
  • Levant
  • Morphometrics
  • Neolith
  • Pigs
  • Sheep


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