How Animals Changed History
By: April Carson
Domesticated animals have helped humans with many needs, including for food (meat and milk), work, transportation, pest control. Sheep were one of the first domesticated as a source of meat around 12000-9000 B.C in Southwest Asia. The domestication of animals also had major consequences for human civilization itself. The Ancient Egyptians, for instance, depended totally on domesticated animals (mostly on cattle) to be able to work and build their pyramids. Without such help of the beasts, who knows how long this great civilization would have lasted?
Animals changed history in many other ways. In fact, even before humans discovered how to work with animals, they were already worshiped in ancient spiritual beliefs. We can say that animals played a key role in the development of human society and culture.
What about the future? We all know that the world we live in changes and progresses at a rapid pace, and continues to do so day by day. How will animals change history this time around? Who knows what the answer is, but it's clear that we owe much of our current state of civilization to those who came before us, because they helped us develop our culture and society.
Domestication probably began as humans started to develop cultures and societies. The reason animals were domesticated is because it was useful for man to do so; they could be used as food sources (i.e. oxen or cows), as beasts of burden, as a “store” of labor which could be called upon at any time (i.e. donkeys), or for their wool and hides among other things. As humans created civilizations and societies, the domestication of animals became more useful to them because they were able to accomplish more tasks with less manpower due to the domestication of animals.
Some animals have literally changed history: there are many examples around the globe to show this!
Let's see some:
* Without horses the great Mongol leader Genghis Khan would never have managed to create his vast empire. It was his cavalry that enabled this great leader to win battle after battle.
* When the Spaniards came to America, they brought animals like pigs, chickens and horses. These animals quickly bred in the New World's warmer climate, thriving there while many Indians died from smallpox which they caught from the Europeans' livestock! The presence of the animals
* The invention of the stirrup allowed early medieval people to make better use of their horses, which played a crucial role in warfare. Thanks to this invention, knights could fight on horseback with success and change the face of the medieval world.
War elephants were used by Indian rulers from the 4th century BC to the 3rd century AD, and have been depicted in many ancient works of art. The Magadhan Emperor Ajatashatru is said to have been first to train elephants for use in war. Greek writers such as Megasthenes noted that the Indian kings were able to assemble armies containing over 5,000 elephants.
Elephants are the most important animal in Hindu mythology. Lord Ganesh is often represented with an elephant's head and is worshipped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
Horses have played a significant role in human history for at least 3500 years. They were first domesticated around 3500–2000 BC, probably in the Eurasian steppes, and their early ancestors included the now-extinct tarpan and the still-extant Przewalski's horse.
The use of horses spread across Eurasia for transportation, agricultural work and warfare. Military engagements between cavalry and chariots were practiced in the Ancient Near East with records dating to around 2000 BC.
The invention of the wheel was perhaps the most important development in early transportation. It is regarded as one of humanity's most influential innovations, and without animals it may never have happened.
Horses are still essential for land based transportation with horses used mainly in the racing and pleasure riding industries. Horses are also used for historical reenactment in many areas around the world.
Camels are also an integral part of history. While horses were domesticated for transportation purposes camels are used to transport people and goods through desert climates. Camels are very strong animals that are able to withstand extreme weather conditions for long periods of time.
The use of camels in history dates back to the ancient times where they were first domesticated by nomadic tribes living throughout central Asia, parts of Africa, and India.
Another important animal that changed history was the donkey. Donkeys are believed to have been domesticated by 3000 or 4000 BC, and are still used as working animals today. Donkeys are important for transportation of heavy loads due to their strength and ability to survive on little food.
Although many agriculture and transportation practices today are based on historical animal power, historically animals have also played a major role in scientific discovery. They were used to discover vitamins like vitamin A (carotene), which led to increased crop yield during the industrial revolution. Animals continue to be crucial for food production across the world as well their use in medical advancements such as vaccine research or even being studied themselves so that scientists can better understand human biology.