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January 10 , 2009

The Ecology of Pastoralism


In The Ecology of Pastoralism, diverse contributions from archaeologists and ethnographers address pastoralism’s significant impact on humanity’s basic subsistence and survival, focusing on the network of social, political, and religious institutions existing within various societies dependent on animal husbandry.

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Pastoral peoples, both past and present, have organized their relationships with certain animals to maximize their ability to survive and adapt to a wide range of conditions over time. Contributors show that despite differences in landscape, environment, and administrative and political structures, these societies share a major characteristic—high flexibility. Based partially on the adaptability of various domestic animals to difficult environments and partially on the ability of people to establish networks allowing them to accommodate political, social, and economic needs, this flexibility is key to the survival of complex pastoral systems and serves as the connection among the varied cultures in the volume.

In The Ecology of Pastoralism, a variety of case studies from a broad geographic sampling uses archaeological and contemporary data and offers a new perspective on the study of pastoralism, making this volume a valuable contribution to current research in the area.

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