Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationChicago, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9396
Approve DateApril 18, 2017
Project TitleBlack, Kelly, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Excavating the Deep History of Degradation: Animal Husbandry and the Environmental Impacts of Livestock Grazing in Pre and Early Historic South India,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen Morrison
KELLY BLACK, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, received a grant in April 2017 to aid research on “Excavating the Deep History of Degradation: Animal Husbandry and the Environmental Impacts of Livestock Grazing in Pre and Early Historic South India,” supervised by Dr. Kathleen Morrison. This research provides a long-term perspective on the environmental impacts of livestock grazing through a study of animal husbandry throughout South India’s pre- and early history. This research used faunal analysis to reconstruct human-animal relationships and modes of animal-based subsistence practices throughout the Neolithic (3000-1200BCE), Iron Age (1200BCE-500BCE), and Early Historic (500BCE-300CE) periods. Specifically, it explored how pastoral production intensified throughout these periods. Next, this research used dental microwear data to establish if livestock fed on overgrazed pastures. Preliminary results suggest dairy production intensified during the Iron Age and contributed to periods of overgrazing. However, by the Early Historic period, it appears herd animals were brought to more distant pastures, a practice that potentially alleviated problems related to overgrazing. The shift to an increasingly mobile herding strategy appears to have been informed by issues related to animal health, environmental conditions, as well as how to manage other forms of intensified land use. The results of this research highlight the complexities of human-land-animal interactions and ultimately provides a deeper context for examining the specific effects of livestock grazing, providing historical insights into present day environmental concerns.