Abstract

This article reviews current evidence for the origins of domestic cattle in China. We describe two possible scenarios: 1) domestic cattle were domesticated indigenously in East Asia from the wild aurochs (Bos primigenius), and 2) domestic cattle were domesticated elsewhere and then introduced to China. We conclude that the current zooarchaeological and genetic evidence does not support indigenous domestication within China, although it is possible that people experimented with managing wild aurochs in ways that did not lead to complete domestication. Most evidence indicates that domestic taurine cattle (Bos taurus) were introduced to China during the third millennium b.c., and were related to cattle populations first domesticated in the Near East. Zebu cattle (Bos indicus) entered China sometime between 2000 and 200 b.c., but much less is known about this species. The role of cattle as ritual and wealth animals seems to have been critical to their initial introduction.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-8283
Print ISSN
0066-8435
Pages
pp. 92-120
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-26
Open Access
No
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