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Institute of Archaeology

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Jill Goulder

Modern development studies as a resource for understanding working animal use in later human prehistory: the example of 4th-3rd millennium BC Mesopotamia

 

Email: j.goulder@ucl.ac.uk
Section: World Archaeology
Supervisors:

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Modern development studies as a resource for understanding working animal use in later human prehistory: the example of 4th-3rd millennium BC Mesopotamia

My thesis develops and employs a novel interdisciplinary tool for examining the practical implications of early systematic working-animal use in prehistoric contexts, on which only fragmentary evidence is otherwise available. I explore the potential of this tool - modern development studies - through an extended case study: the use of working animals in Mesopotamia, in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. The aim throughout is to broaden substantially the range of archaeological and historical inference, rather than to propose new high-level models.

For achieving this aim, I use close qualitative analysis of the large body of published official and NGO studies of working-animal use today, particularly in regions where working cattle and donkeys are recent adoptions and mechanisation is minimal. These data, little-used as yet in archaeology, shed light on the day-to-day practicalities of working-animal adoption and management - breeding, supply, and maintenance. They further provide significant new bottom-up insights into common community-level social and economic levelling mechanisms such as hiring and lending of working animals, suggesting a revision to established models of social inequality relating to their adoption.

One major outcome of this analysis is the argument for greater recognition of the donkey - multi-function, low-maintenance - as a significant working force in late prehistoric Mesopotamia, challenging the established ox-focused models upon which many current reconstructions rely. The scarcity of donkey remains in food-middens has contributed to this neglect. Donkeys - and female cows - are widely employed in many modern developing regions for tilling light soils, and ploughing is often a minority element of working-animal use. Here the case is made for a similar range of roles in early Mesopotamia, for example in the myriad short-distance transportation tasks that form a central element of their use today, and in the rural 'private sector' now recognised as present outside the purview of elite, urban texts.

Education

    • BA (Jt Hons), French/ English literature, University of Exeter, 1975
    • MA, Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, UCL, 2008 (Winner of University of London Petrie Prize 2008)
    Publications

    Fair exchange: utilisation of working animals (and women) in ancient Mesopotamia and modern Africa, Anthropology of the Middle East 11/1 (2016): 66-84

    Administrators' bread: an experiment-based reassessment of the functional and cultural role of the Uruk bevel-rim bowl, Antiquity 84 (2010): 351-362: Awarded the 2010 Ben Cullen prize, given by Antiquity to the runner-up for the best piece published in the year

    (In press) Invisible donkeys in ancient Mesopotamia: new insights from modern studies in sub-Saharan Africa, 12th ASWA proceedings, Groningen Archaeological Series

    (In press) The Uruk bevel-rim bowl: production-line technology in design and function, Res Antiquitatis (Professors Francisco Caramelo and Juan-Luis Montero Fenollós)

    Conference papers

    ICAANE 2018: 'The use of working donkeys in 4th/3rd-millennium BC Mesopotamia: daily social and economic impacts in the light of modern working-animal studies'

    BANEA 2017: 'Down on the farm in Mesopotamia: undiscovered 'local' donkeys'

    Donkey Conference SOAS 2016: 'Glimpses of long-distance pack donkeys'

    Being Interdisciplinary in Animal Studies symposium Glasgow 2016: 'Donkeys and cattle between fields: engaging multiple disciplines in ascertaining the social and economic impact of the early systematic use of working animals'

    Archaeozoology of Southwestern Asia and Adjacent Areas conference Groningen 2015: 'Invisible donkeys (and cows) in the Ancient Near East: new archaeological insights into the early systematic use of working animals, using modern studies in developing countries'

    Donkey Conference Hydra 2014: 'Invisible donkeys: the unsung role of the donkey in the Ancient Near East'

    European Association of Archaeologists conference Istanbul 2014: 'Administrators' bread: an experiment-based reassessment of the functional and cultural role of the Uruk bevel-rim bowl'

    UCL Postgraduate Zooarchaeology forum 2014: 'Trotting into prehistory: tracing the invisible donkey in the Ancient Near East'

    BANEA 2014: 'Donkeys into the limelight: new insights from ethnography for study of the social and economic impact of the early systematic use of working animals'

    University of Oxford Ploughing Ahead colloquium 2013: 'Donkeys into the limelight: new insights from African ethnography for study of the social, economic and technological impact of the early use of animals for ploughing'

    UCL Animals as Material Culture seminar 2010: 'The missing chapter: pack-donkey transport as a critical force for change in Mesopotamia and the Southern Levant'

    BANEA 2009: 'Administrators' bread: an experiment-based reassessment of the functional and cultural role of the Uruk bevel-rim bowl'

    UCL Attitudes to Animals seminar 2007: 'Shock news from the Middle East: dangerous new products threaten the social order'