Excerpt from chapter 2 of David R. Harris, Rethinking Agriculture: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives, edited by Timothy P Denham, José Iriarte, Luc, 2007.
“The derivation of ‘domestic’ from domus, the Latin for house, is well known. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1971), the word entered the English language via the French domestique and referred at first to a person’s state of belonging to a home or household. By the seventeenth century, in England, its meaning had been extended to include cultivated plants and tame animals cared for people and living in or near human habitations. It was not until the nineteenth century, and especially following the publication in 1868 of Charles Darwin’s The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, that morphological, behavioral, and later genetic change became an integral part of what came to be regarded as the orthodox (morphogenetic) concept of plant and animal domestication. However, while biologists thought of domestication as a dynamic process, historians and archaeologists tended to regard it more as a series of past events that had brought new forms of plants and animals into existence.”