A Geographical Introduction to History

By Lionel Bataillon; Lucien Febvre et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV SHEPHERDS AND HUSBANDMEN

Nomadic and Sedentary Populations

IT was not, however, the fishers and hunters who were the conquerors of the earth, the first makers of history, and the founders of civilization. The peoples who created and spread over the world the early civilizations, so complex, varied and rich in every way, were pastoral or agricultural peoples. Let us study them, each in turn, while leaving severely alone that wide and thorny question of their possible inter- relation or mutual derivation, which is both beyond our competence and outside the scope of this book.


I
Domestication and Nomadism

It is a fact, the admission of which requires no lengthy dissertation, that the life of man was profoundly transformed by the domestication of a certain number of animals. But where, when, and above all how, for what reason, or by what means did this domestication take place? There are few questions still so obscure, notwithstanding all the study and labour and the progress realized during recent years.

Even the idea of domestication is anything but clear. In what does domestication consist? It has been defined as a degeneration. Captivity reacts at once--and powerfully--on the sexual life of animals.1 The difficulty has never been in keeping wild animals alive in the dietary sense, whether captured in the chase or otherwise, as ancient peoples prove. The American Indians were fond of menageries, which they filled with birds and little pet animals; the Egyptians and the

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1
Caullery, CXXVI, p. 159.

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