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Horse Husbandry in Colonial Virginia: An Analysis of Probate Inventories in Relation to Environmental and Social Changes

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Author: Peck, Kimberley
Advisor: Liebmann, Matthew, 1973-
Committee Members: Bowen, Joanne; Walsh, Lorena; Whittenburg, James P.
Issued Date: 2008-05-08
Subjects: Anthropology
Colonial Virginia
Probate records
Social stratification
Status symbol
Horse racing
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/500
Description: Despite the vast amount of zooarchaeological research that has been done on livestock in Colonial Virginia, little is known about the role of the horse in society and the environment before the American Revolution. The image provided by the current literature on the subject is fairly general and imprecise: horses were almost ubiquitous throughout the Chesapeake and provided transportation between disparate settlements. By conducting a thorough and quantitative analysis of probate records, this study presents a new, detailed understanding of horse husbandry in York County, Virginia, that emphasizes the role of the animal as an essential means of personal and commercial transportation, and as a symbol of increasing social stratification. Additionally, this research uses an evaluation of husbandry systems as dynamic processes, simultaneously influenced by environment, animal behavior, and human manipulation. The use of probate records in relation to other primary sources and contemporary research demonstrates how historical records can be used in absence of archaeological data to provide reliable information on past societies. This work makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the role of human-animal relationships in societies, and will benefit future research on similar topics.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology

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