The Donkey in Human History

23-02-2018 by Erin McGowan

Congratulations to Peter Mitchell on the publication of his new book, The Donkey in Human History. Spanning the globe and extending from the donkey's initial domestication up to the present, the book seeks to resituate the donkey (and its hybrid offspring such as the mule) in the unfolding of human history, looking not just at what donkeys and mules did, but also at how people have thought about and understood them. 

Donkeys carried Christ into Jerusalem while in Greek myth they transported Hephaistos up to Mount Olympos and Dionysos into battle against the Giants. They were probably the first animals that people ever rode, as well as the first used on a large-scale as beasts of burden. Associated with kingship and the gods in the ancient Near East, they have been (and in many places still are) a core technology for moving people and goods over both short and long distances, as well as a supplier of muscle power for threshing and grinding grain, pressing olives, raising water, ploughing fields, and pulling carts, to name just a few of the uses to which they have been put.

This new publication is the first global study of the donkey's place in human history. See more information on the book here.

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