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Legions of Pigs in the Early Medieval West$
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Jamie Kreiner

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300246292

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300246292.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Legions of Pigs in the Early Medieval West
Author(s):

Jamie Kreiner

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300246292.003.0001

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.

Keywords:   coevolution, scale, ecology

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