Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Eduardo Corona-M.
Interest in the first hunter-gatherer populations of Mexico has increased in the last fifteen years. Exploration of the Late Pleistocene localities involved in the early peopling of Mexico, including the discovery of new ones and reanalysis of known ones, and the application of new methods and techniques (e.g. AMS radiocarbon dating, stable isotopes, scanning electron microscopy, palaeobotanical analysis) have increased. Archaeozoology has contributed to this expansion by increasing the record of terrestrial vertebrates, improving understanding of the record and delimitation of distributional ranges of extinct species. There is now more information on the type of diet of some extinct herbivores and hypotheses about the status of local palaeoenvironments have been provided. Questions remain about the interactions between human migrations and the environments, specifically the degree of influence that humans had in the extinction of mega- and mesofaunas, and the diversity of subsistence strategies employed by hunter-gatherers in the Late Pleistocene.
Angela Schlumbaum and Ceiridwen J. Edwards
This chapter begins by defining ancient DNA and providing a brief history of ancient DNA and its potential for archaeology, followed by discussions of the technological aspects of ancient DNA; ancient DNA methodology; and state of the art, advantages, and disadvantages of wetland/wet sites. Ancient DNA retrieval from waterlogged material remains poorly understood. In many cases, DNA is unfortunately completely destroyed. However, given the rapid evolution of technology, both of instrumentation and development of techniques (e.g., new methods to reduce inhibition), improved results from waterlogged material are expected in the future.
John Peter Oleson and Robert L. Hohlfelder
This article describes the evolution of harbors in the ancient world that can be linked to changing social needs and technological developments. Hundreds of harbor sites of varying sizes and designs can be documented around the Mediterranean dating back thousands of years. Relief sculpture and a few shipwrecks provide ample evidence for the intensity of trade by sea in the eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age, but the rise in the relative sea level in the eastern Mediterranean since the Bronze Age has obscured or destroyed many of the early harbor sites. Natural anchorages were used throughout the period of Mediterranean history for meeting maritime needs of coastal communities. Hundreds of potential targets await serious archaeological investigation and pose new research questions, which will be answered with further technological developments.
Elizabeth J. Reitz
Data from three early European-sponsored colonies in North America indicate that changes in animal use occurred quickly. Over half of the meat from vertebrate sources in a Spanish assemblage associated with the first permanent European settlement on the Atlantic coast (Florida) and a French assemblage from the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico near Mobile (Alabama) are from local, wild animals. The English assemblage associated with Charles Towne (South Carolina) reflects the rapid development of a short-lived cattle industry. Early colonists by and large practised a strategy that combined similar arrays of local wild meat sources with pork or beef regardless of the national affiliation of the colony, the ethnicity of the colonists, or the century in which colonization occurred.
Karen Gust Schollmeyer and Katherine A. Spielmann
Studies of animals in Southwest archaeology have been particularly successful in addressing the social-environmental context of human use of fauna. Two aspects of this topic form the focus of this chapter: understanding anthropogenic effects on landscapes, and human ritual engagement with animals. Studies of fauna and anthropogenic landscape change have centered on topics including garden hunting, anthropogenic vegetation changes, and human impacts on artiodactyls. Investigations of human ritual engagement with animals have primarily included analyses of room and site function (particularly examining ceremonial centers), studies of the emergence of new ritual regimes, and analyses focused on birds in religion. Emerging directions for Southwest zooarchaeology include synthetic analyses, archaeological chemistry, and variation in religious belief over time and space.
In addition to providing food, companionship, and raw materials for clothing, furniture, tools, and ornaments, animals also played a key role in religious practices in ancient Egypt. Apart from serving as sacrifices, each god had one or more animal as a totem. Certain specially marked exemplars of these species were revered as manifestations of that god that enjoyed all the privileges of being a deity during their lifetime and which were mummified and buried with pomp upon their death. Other animals, which did not bear the distinguishing marks, were mummified and offered to the gods, transmitting the prayers of devotees directly to their divinities. These number in the millions and were a significant feature of Egyptian religious belief and self-identity in the later periods of Egyptian history.
Animals formed an essential part of urban life in England from Medieval times onwards, economically, socially, and ecologically. As livestock, they provided meat and other carcass resources, traction power, wool, and dairy produce. The close integration of livestock with everyday urban life is reflected in the ubiquity of butchered cattle, and sheep and pig bones, and the sight, sound, and smell of livestock would have been everyday experiences. Horses are probably under-represented in the animal bone record, given their likely importance as pack and riding animals. Poultry and, later, rabbits were important as livestock that poorer households could raise and trade. Other animals provided companionship, although the differentiation of companion animals is not unproblematic. The commensal scavengers such as crows and rodents were a central element of the urban scene, becoming stigmatized as ‘vermin’ at least by the sixteenth century.
Zooarchaeological comparisons of Roman and Islamic North Africa indicate changes in animal use largely resultant from shifting parameters of urban and economic expansion and development, presence and involvement of the military, cultural preferences, and restrictions in dietary resources. ‘Urbanized’ and ‘militarized’ zones, such as Carthage, and the Egyptian delta and eastern desert, typically display increases in pork consumption during Roman times; others areas, such as Morocco and inland Tunisia and Libya, regions arguably less affected by, or exposed to, Roman dietary and cultural customs or demands, maintain greater temporal consistency. Islamic patterns display regional diversity, with sheep/goat pastoralism predominating, integrated husbandry schemes and animal breed manipulation generally diminishing, and cultural taboos against pork consumption registering in many areas.
Christopher I. Roos
It has been suggested that anthropogenic burning may have altered Southwest landscapes at a large scale. Southwestern biomes vary in their propensity for and their susceptibility to anthropogenic burning practices. Anthropogenic burning to enhance the productivity of wild plant foraging or agriculture was probably limited in scale; on the other hand, fire use in hunting, religious practice, and warfare may have impacted larger scales, though at lower intensity. Middle-elevation forests, woodlands, and grasslands were the biotic zones most likely to be impacted by anthropogenic burning, but sophisticated mimicry of natural fire regimes means that the evidence of such impact is ambiguous.
Archaeobotanical research focuses on the study of past people–plant relationships. This includes a reconstruction of the diet, subsistence, agricultural strategies, social and cultural role of food, exploitation of wild resources, procurement of fodder, aspects of seasonality, and environment in which people and their animals dwelt. The accuracy of archaeobotanical reconstructions, however, depends on the quality of the botanical data recovered from excavations. This chapter discusses how both preservation and research methodology affect interpretation, emphasizing the possible routes of entry of plant remains into the deposits and the loss of evidence due to poor preservation conditions. It presents several case studies which underline the potential of waterlogged preservation and demonstrate that failure to understand the taphonomical processes can lead to inaccurate and biased interpretations of the data.