Keeping up with the Highams: Personal Perspectives of the Impact of Charles Higham’s Research on Investigating European and South East Asian Prehistoric Economies

Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Germany

Domesticated animals have played an important role in the evolution of later prehistoric populations while their products were an integral component of human dietary practices. Focusing on cattle, their milk and power to pull ploughs and carts have helped to transform human societies. Charles Higham’s doctoral and post-doctoral research examining the modalities of slaughter profiles and metrical analysis of limb bones laid an important foundation and inspiration for later research, including my own. In the last 15 years, collective projects combining archaeology with stable isotopic and biomolecular approaches have shown the importance of milk products to early farming communities as well as increasing archaeozoological evidence for the early use of traction. While the narrative of the role of secondary products in prehistoric societies has been dominated by Andrew Sherratt’s Secondary Products revolution, it is important to remember and consider the legacy of Higham’s early research. Here I will provide a state of the art of current research into milk and traction in prehistoric European and South-East Asian contexts, reflect on Charles Higham’s contribution, and consider future research avenues into prehistoric animal domestication research.