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From ‘dog-wolves’ to warhorses: A look at the intimate bond between humans and animals




A picture released in the 1930s of a caravan in Palmyra (Palmyre), an ancient city in central Syria, located in an oasis northeast of Damascus.
A picture released in the 1930s of a caravan in Palmyra (Palmyre), an ancient city in central Syria, located in an oasis northeast of Damascus.
STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

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Tens of thousands of years ago, humans domesticated animals from their wild counterparts, leading to fundamental changes in our ability to feed ourselves, trade with others, traverse unimaginable distances, and establish vast civilizations.

The historical relationship between humans and animals has shifted dramatically over the millennia. While at first we coexisted with animals at hunter-gatherers, through domestication we became able to create intimate bonds with animals as we protected them for our own advantage. Dogs became our first companions, and pigs, sheep, and goats brought about our ability to subsistence farm. Donkeys and camels enabled us to create global empires through trade, and horses freed us from the physical spaces that divided us.

In our more recent centuries, industrialization and mechanization have allowed the mass-scale food industry to provide our food without seeing a drop of blood. Even with the widespread rise of domestic pets, humans have seemingly lost the intimate bond that once held animals so close.

How does our shift away from working closely with animals reflect our society’s understanding of their role? Is it possible for humans to bring animals back into our civilization, or have those times become relics of the past?

Brian Fagan will be at Vroman’s Bookstore tonight at 7pm to sign and discuss “The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History”.  More info here  

Guest:

Brian Fagan, author of “The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History” (Bloomsbury Press, 2015);  a professor emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara