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date: 24 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

China is one of the few primary loci of animal domestication and of emergent agriculture in the world; Chinese society has been predominantly agrarian for thousands of years, a process that began in the Neolithic (7000–2000 cal bc). Among the most important domestic animals known in Neolithic China, pig and dog were first domesticated indigenously. Sheep, goat, cattle, and horse were introduced into northern China later through the Eurasian steppes. The zebu and buffalo were probably introduced first into southwest China. The chicken is the least understood domesticate. Domestic animals not only played crucial roles in the subsistence economy, but were also used as ritual offerings at various ceremonial events, facilitating social elites’ negotiation for power.

Keywords: animal domestication, introduced animals, secondary products, ritual sacrifice, social complexity

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