Open Access Repository

Feeding the herds: Stable isotope analysis of animal diet and its implication for understanding social organisation in the Indus Civilisation, Northwest India


Downloads per month over past year

Lightfoot, E, Jones, PJ ORCID: 0000-0002-4880-6711, Joglekar, PP, Tames-Demauras, M, Smith, E, Muschinski, J, Shinde, V, Singh, RN, Jones, MK, O'Connell, TC and Petrie, CA 2020 , 'Feeding the herds: Stable isotope analysis of animal diet and its implication for understanding social organisation in the Indus Civilisation, Northwest India' , Archaeological Research in Asia, vol. 24 , pp. 1-13 , doi: 10.1016/j.ara.2020.100212.

140828 - Feedin...pdf | Download (1MB)

| Preview


The way that people manage their livestock tells us about their interactions with the landscape, particularly thenature of adaptation to specific environments, social organisation, resilience and long-term farming sustainability.Globally, there is considerable variation in how these practices are manifested, due to differences inwater availability, levels of environmental diversity and aridity, and also the nature of cultural choices. SouthAsia's Indus Civilisation (c.3000–1500 BCE) provides an important opportunity for investigating how populationsmanaged their animals, because the region shows considerable diversity in rainfall distribution, seasonalityand intensity, which results in marked environmental variability that is susceptible to change over time. Thelatter is particularly significant when it comes to consideration of the impact of the 4.2 ka BP event and itsrelation to the deurbanisation of the Indus Civilisation.This paper presents carbon isotope data from animal teeth from nine archaeological sites distributed acrossnorthwest India that are suitable for exploring how diverse practices were, and how animal management strategieschanged through time. These data show clear differentiation in feeding practices between species, withcattle and water buffalo consuming very high proportions of C4 plants, while sheep and goat ate varyingquantities of C3 and C4 plants. This pattern is generally consistent across sites and throughout different periods,suggesting that the strategy was adapted to a range of environmental conditions and settlements of differentsizes. We suggest that humans controlled cow and water buffalo diets, and they were likely provided withfodder. In contrast, sheep and goats had a less controlled diet, and were presumably more likely to roam thelandscape. These animal management strategies must have involved some separation of tasks, although it remainsunclear if this was on a household, settlement or population level.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Lightfoot, E and Jones, PJ and Joglekar, PP and Tames-Demauras, M and Smith, E and Muschinski, J and Shinde, V and Singh, RN and Jones, MK and O'Connell, TC and Petrie, CA
Keywords: archaeology, stable isotope analysis, diet, Indus Civilisation, carbon, serial samples, animal management, sustainability, adaptation, resilience
Journal or Publication Title: Archaeological Research in Asia
Publisher: Elsevier BV
ISSN: 2352-2267
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.ara.2020.100212
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page