Human-Animal Relationship with Work Animals: Symbolic and Economic Roles of Donkeys and Camels during the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Southern Levant

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Abstract

Donkeys and camels served as work animals in the southern Levant during different phases of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Both species were not primarily exploited for their meat, and both played an important role in humans’ social evolution. The paper reviews evidence for the interaction of humans with these animals, following their domestication, with a special attention to ritual practices and their social meaning. Results show that the practice of deliberate interments of donkeys began shortly after their domestication as work animals, continued through the Bronze Age and ended at the early Iron Age. Ceasing of the practice coincides with the introduction of another transport animal to the southern Levant – the dromedary camel. It is suggested here that the treatment of donkeys changed as their importance changed, and that the ritual practices with both animals may be related to the identity of the populations exploiting them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-94
JournalZeitschrift des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins
Volume136
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Bronze age -- Eretz Israel
  • Iron age -- Eretz Israel
  • Working animals -- Eretz Israel -- History
  • Human-animal relationships -- Eretz Israel

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