Domestication Timeline

Domestication Timeline

We've created a domestication timeline! 

A visual guide to show when animals were domesticated and where, based on current archaeological findings. 

What is Domestication?

It’s the process of taming an animal and keeping it as a pet or on a farm. 

But really this is a beneficial relationship between animals. Remember we’re animals too! These specials bonds have taken thousands of years to create. In exchange for food and shelter we keep certain animals for food, strength, and companionship.

Wild to Tame

There are 3 main pathways that have led to some animals becoming domesticated:

Mutual Pathway - Wild animals attracted to humans by food and refuse opportunities e.g. Dogs and cats.

Game Management – Wild animals that were hunted by humans began to be controlled and managed e.g. Cattle and sheep.

Direct Pathway – A deliberate attempt by humans to capture and use certain animals e.g. Horse and camels.

When wild animals were captured, bred and confined to smaller areas they began to change in appearance and behaviour.


Secondary Products

It was during the Neolithic period when farming was introduced that the domestication of animals and plants really began. Animals were not just kept for their meat but for what archaeologists call SECONDARY PRODUCTS:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wool
  • Labour

Can you think of any others?

When and Where?

Different cultures domesticated different animals, in different locations and at different times.

The first animal to be domesticated is the dog- sometime in the Palaeolithic. Possibly as early as 30,000 BC. The first accepted example of a domesticated dog is 14,200 years old! This puppy known as the Bonn-Oberkassel dog was buried alongside his humans. Archaeologists could tell that this poor puppy had suffered from disease and must have been well looked after by humans during his short life. The relationship between dogs and humans certainly is a special one.


We have to remember that not all animals can be tamed - many are wild at heart. Take the zebra for example, despite being very like a horse, it’s temperament does not lend itself to partnering with humans. And this is ok. We have to learn to respect and coexist with wild animals too.

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