Pigs seem like a minor historical subject. But they helped their caretakers think big, and they can likewise expand our picture of the early Middle Ages. Pigs forced humans to appreciate that they were dealing with interlocking, fluctuating, and variable resources that required a correspondingly flexible approach to handling them. And they were adaptive, most noticeably in their diet but also in their behaviors, which enabled their owners to take advantage of different ecologies. And unlike other livestock, pigs were consistently difficult to manage, so their caretakers could not help but notice that domestication did not fully transform animals into commodities. Humans made tradeoffs and sacrifices in order to keep raising and eating pigs, and that, more than any other animal-human relationship in this period, attests to a long-term process of coevolution.
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