The domestication of animals was an important step in our human civilization. The essential mechanism of domestication is changing an animal's behavior and body shape to suit specific needs. The process of domestication is a slow one, and sometimes archaeologists have a difficult time identifying whether a group of animal bones in an archaeological site represents domesticated animals or not. Here is a list of some of the several signs that archaeologists look for in determining domestication.
One indication that a particular group of animals might be domesticated is a difference in body size and shape between an archaeological assemblage and animals found in the wild, called morphology.
Population demography refers to differences in the range of genders and ages between a domesticated group of animals and those found in the wild.
Site assemblages--the content and layout of settlements--hold clues to the presence of domesticated animals.
How the remains of an animal are buried has implications about its status as a domesticate.
A domesticated animal will eat differently than one in the wild, normally; and this dietary change may be identified through the use of stable isotope analysis.