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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:4, Winter 2021

Epistles: Biblical Bestiary: Cattle

Biblical Archaeology Review

Across the ancient Near East, domesticated taurine cattle (Bos taurus) were valued sources of agricultural labor and sustenance. Essential in the so-called Neolithic revolution, which saw the transition of human society from nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary farming communities, cattle were first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent more than 10,000 years ago.

Beef was consumed much less than goats or sheep in the ancient Near East, and cattle were more useful for transportation, agricultural labor, and as a source of milk. If the ass was the light pick-up truck of the day,a used to carry loads on its back, then the ox was the heavy-duty truck and tractor, good for pulling wagons and plowing. As draft animals, oxen worked also at threshing floors.

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