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.
Behavioural inferences from Late Pleistocene Aboriginal Australia: seasonality, butchery, and nutrition in southwest Tasmania
Richard Cosgrove and Jillian Garvey
Detailed research into marsupial behavioural ecology and modelling of past Aboriginal exploitation of terrestrial fauna has been scarce. Poor bone preservation is one limiting factor in Australian archaeological sites, but so has been the lack of research concerning the ecology and physiology of Australia’s endemic fauna. Much research has focused on marine and fresh-water shell-fish found in coastal and inland midden sites. Detailed studies into areas such as seasonality of past human occupation and nutritional returns from terrestrial prey species have not had the same attention. This chapter reviews the current level of published Australian research into two aspects of faunal studies, seasonality and nutrition. It describes the patterns from well-researched faunal data excavated from the Ice Age sites in southwest Tasmania. Concentration is on the vertebrate fauna found in seven limestone cave sites to examine any temporal changes to seasonal butchery and identify any differences between seasonally occupied sites.
Joris Peters, Nadja Pöllath, and Benjamin S. Arbuckle
Analysis of spatio-temporal variation in patterns of animal exploitation helps our understanding of the transition from hunting to husbandry of Ovis, Capra, Sus, and Bos in Pre-Pottery Neolithic Anatolia (c.9500–7000 bce). Despite interaction with humans since the final Pleistocene, domestication of Sus in southeastern Anatolia is only evidenced after 8500 bce. This timing coincides with efforts to exert cultural control over Ovis, Capra, and Bos. Applying a broad methodological spectrum, it is shown that in southeastern Anatolia, the Neolithic ‘package’ was in place at the end of the ninth millennium bce, whereas in contemporaneous central Anatolia, livestock husbandry only included sheep and goat. Initially, animal management practices may have focused on a single species, but after 8000 bce, herding strategies comprised at least two species, likely a risk-reducing strategy. Conceivably, large-scale social gatherings, e.g. at Göbekli Tepe, promoted the spread of practices associated with ungulate management and domestication.
In sub-Saharan West Africa, substantial archaeological evidence only appears from about 2000 bc. From that time onwards, sites with large proportions of fish-bones and large numbers of fish taxa, including open-water fish, are known. Deep-water fishing requires a well-developed fishing technology. Links have been made between the sites and modern, specialized fishers. However, because of the high component of crops in the diets of modern fishers, the recent levels of specialization were probably only possible with the appearance of fully fledged farming around the beginning of the current era. The exploitation of aquatic resources in Holocene West Africa is discussed, mainly based on archaeozoological evidence from the Lake Chad area. The methodology used, especially regarding quantification, is also presented.
Fishing, wildfowling, and marine mammal exploitation in northern Scotland from prehistory to Early Modern times
Fishing, seabird fowling, and the exploitation of marine mammals persisted in settlements around the coast and islands of western and northern Scotland from prehistoric times until the twentieth century. Until the mid-first millennium ad most fishing focused on immature saithe and was carried out close to the shore, but from Norse times onwards intensive deep-sea fishing for cod took place and, in the Hebrides, a herring fishery developed. Seabirds were a minor but regular part of subsistence; some were harvested from breeding colonies and others caught more casually, often in association with fishing. Marine mammals provided food and oil; whalebone was an important raw material. As well as exploiting stranded whales, people hunted seals from their breeding sites and small cetaceans by herding them into bays and inlets.
Forests, steppes, and coastlines: zooarchaeology and the prehistoric exploitation of Patagonian habitats
Luis A. Borrero
The human colonization of southern Patagonia began over 11,500 radiocarbon years bp. The first colonizers exploited Pleistocene megamammals and camelids. During the Early Holocene, after the extinction of the megamammals, hunter-gatherers concentrated on the exploitation of camelids. During the Middle Holocene a full exploitation of coastal resources began—pinnipeds, molluscs, and coastal birds. The main trends observed in the exploitation of these animals through time were in the intensity of utilization. Huemul and Rheidae were discontinuously exploited in the interior, particularly in the forests. On the coasts, molluscs, fish, and birds complemented the human diet, especially during the Late Holocene. The main subsistence changes after the European contact resulted from the introduction of sheep and horses.
Mietje Germonpré and Mikhail Sablin
This chapter focuses on the mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and large canid (wolf (Canis lupus) and/or dog (Canis familiaris)) assemblages recorded at Upper Palaeolithic sites from the Russian Plain and Siberia. It accordingly pursues the following questions: (1) Is the mammoth ubiquitously found in the Upper Palaeolithic sites of Russia?, (2) Are large canids as often present at Siberian sites as they are at sites from the Russian Plain? and (3) Could the high frequency of the mammoth remains in several Upper Palaeolithic assemblages be due to hunting by prehistoric humans? Finally, this essay underlines the need for further studies in this area.
This chapter presents evidence of hunting and fishing in the Mesolithic period from the eastern Baltic region. During that time, these activities were the most important means of subsistence. Altogether twelve Mesolithic settlement sites yielded considerable amounts of animal remains that could provide information about the archaeofauna of this long period in human history. Basically, three phases of Mesolithic archaeofauna could be identified: Early Mesolithic, Middle Mesolithic, and Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic. These groups are in good accordance with the changing climate and environment of the area and characterize well a human ability to adapt in such conditions and find uses for faunal resources.
Identifications of animal remains from southern African Stone Age sites are complicated by the abundancy of taxa, skeletal differences, a wide variety of habitats, and the fragmented condition of most of the bone samples. Studies in osteomorphology and osteometry are essential. There are regional variations in species sizes combined with changes in bone sizes within and between taxa. Seasonality and animal migrations are demonstrated in the highlands of Lesotho and the semi-arid Karoo. Faunal studies of Sibudu and Bushman Rock Shelter show the contrast between two rock shelters that are geographically separated but overlap in occupation periods.
Patterns of animal exploitation in western Turkey: from Palaeolithic molluscs to Byzantine elephants
Canan Çakırlar and Levent Atici
This chapter presents a first overview of zooarchaeological research in western Turkey, a vast region between the Anatolian Plateau and the Aegean Sea. The reason for this overview is twofold. First, although zooarchaeological research began early on within the history of archaeology in the region, almost all zooarchaeological studies have been site-based, masking their potential contribution to the cultural and environmental narrative of the region and beyond. Second, recent zooarchaeological research has shown that the region carries path-breaking potential for elucidating patterns of human–animal relationships in both prehistoric and historic periods. This chapter probes the zooarchaeological evidence from the Palaeolithic through historical times and highlights the results of zooarchaeological research on topics such as Epipalaeolithic foraging, Neolithic husbandry, urban animal economies, trade, and the symbolic role of animals.
This chapter, which focuses on the prehistoric and early historic archaeology of rivers, lakes, and bogs in the Baltic Basin, demonstrates how wetland archaeology in the Baltic region, which has motivated archaeological investigation throughout the area, is inseparable from investigations at dryland sites. The discussions cover the legacy of the Weichsel Glaciation; Mesolithic lakesides and seashores; the transition to agriculture in northern Europe; Bronze Age/Iron Age lake settlements and bog bodies; and early medieval towns and emporia.
This chapter discusses the prehistoric environment in the lower regions of the Yangtze River; human adaptation to the wetlands; food production reflected by animal and plant remains; and wetland reclamation for cultivating rice. Warmer climates after the last glaciation melted the ice caps, causing sea levels to rise at the beginning of the Holocene. During this period, the coastline reached even the areas between Zhenjiang and Yangzhou in lower regions of the Yangtze River. In the Mid-Holocene (c. 7500 BP), sea levels regressed again and the Yangtze Delta was formed. This ‘new’ wetland prairie-like landscape with a large number of rivers and lakes provided a rich habitat with abundant plants, mammals, birds, and fish, as well as wetland areas for rice cultivation. Subsequently, Neolithic cultures such as the Hemudu Culture moved into this region and took advantage of the rich environment.
Paul Halstead and Valasia Isaakidou
Images, texts, and bones shed light on the place of animals in the later Bronze Age societies of southern Greece. Iconography offers an idealized vision of encounters with dangerous, exotic, and mythical beasts, of travel in elaborate horse-drawn chariots, and of ceremonial slaughter of bulls. Reality, even for the elite and as revealed by textual and faunal evidence, was more mundane: killing and consumption of sheep, goats, and pigs more than lions, deer, and bulls; and dependence, to finance a palatial lifestyle, on draught oxen for grain production and wool-sheep for exchangeable prestige textiles. Linear B texts describe aspects of animal management of interest to the Mycenaean palaces, while faunal data make clear how restricted were these interests. Faunal and ceramic data highlight the importance of commensality throughout the Neolithic and Bronze Age, and the shift from overtly egalitarian gatherings in the Neolithic to ostentatiously inegalitarian in the Bronze Age.
Subsistence economy, animal domestication, and herd management in prehistoric central Asia (Neolithic–Iron Age)
Sites of the Neolithic Jeitun Culture in southern Turkmenistan present the earliest evidence of animal husbandry, mainly based on sheep (Ovis aries) and goats (Capra hircus), in Central Asia. In its northern parts, subsistence economy relied on the exploitation of wild animal resources in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic. The steppes of north Kazakhstan played a prominent role in the domestication of the horse (Equus caballus) some time prior to 3000 bc. In subsequent periods, horse breeding was of great economic importance in this area. In the Bronze Age, the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) became a common livestock animal in the Eurasian dry zones. Its domestication seems to have taken place in the southwestern part of Central Asia. According to geography, vegetation, and climate, different types of animal keeping and herd management developed in the centuries of the Bronze and Iron Ages.
The first human populations colonized the Bismarck Archipelago about 40,000 years ago. The zooarchaeological evidence from Buang Merabak (New Ireland) reveals that, at a first stage, hunter-gatherers only focused on the exploitation of local faunal resources, especially cave-dwelling bats and varanids. As for other Pleistocene assemblages, the contribution of fish to the diet is negligible. Introduced species appear since about 23,050 cal bp with the northern common cuscus (endemic of New Guinea), although bats still provided most of the meat consumed at the site. In later times, the cuscus dominates the assemblage, partially replacing cave-dwelling bats, and the wallaby is also introduced from New Guinea. The introduction and increasing consumption of the cuscus had major implications in terms of land use and mobility. The initial focus on cave-dwelling bats implied shorter stays at sites and required constant movements through the landscape; the shift towards cuscus consumption reduced mobility.
This chapter discusses people's interactions with wetlands in prehistoric Europe. In the Mesolithic, for instance, people lived close to and exploited wetlands mainly for food procurement (i.e., hunting-fishing-gathering), but they preferred to settle in drier environments. In the Neolithic, the relationship with the wetlands became more intimate and permanent. Not only did social groups choose to inhabit and exploit the wetlands economically, living on lakeshores all year round (as in the Neolithic Circum–Alpine lake villages), but they started regarding them as sacred places as well, where ritual and offerings could be performed periodically. With the advent of agriculture, and later on the spread of metals (copper, bronze, and iron), people's interactions with the wetlands became more complex. In continental Europe, fortified settlements appear also within wetland environments, denoting a widespread socioeconomic change.
Akira Matsui and Tomohiro Inoue
This chapter discusses large-scale excavations of the following wetland sites: (1) the Palaeolithic sites around Lake Nojiri (Nagano Prefecture); (2) the Tomizawa site, Miyagi Prefecture (late Palaeolithic); (3) the Higashimyo site, Saga Prefecture, (Initial Jomon); (4) the Yoko-o site, Oita Prefecture (Initial Jomon); (5) the Awazu Submerged site in Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture (Initial and Middle Jomon); (6) the Torihama Shell Midden, Fukui Prefecture (Early Jomon); (7) the Sannai Maruyama site, Aomori Prefecture (Early and Middle Jomon); (8) the Sakuramachi site, Toyama Prefecture (Middle and Final Jomon); (9) the Mawaki site, Ishikawa Prefecture (Early and Middle Jomon); (10) the Shimoyakebe site, Tokyo (Late and Final Jomon); (11) the Yamaga site, Osaka Prefecture (Yayoi); (12) the Ikejima-Fukumanji site, Osaka Prefecture, where the traces of rice paddy fields cultivated from the Yayoi Period to the Premodern Age (Edo) have been found; (13) the Kodera site, Ehime Prefecture (Kofun); (14) the Kurumidate site, Akita Prefecture (ancient Japan); (15) the Kusadosengen-cho site, Hiroshima Prefecture (medieval period); and (16) the Bibi 8 site, Hokkaido (from the Ainu people to the Pre-modern Period).
John D. Speth
For the past 13,000 years Indians in the North American Great Plains hunted bison (Bison bison and B. antiquus) in large communally organized drive operations. This chapter briefly describes the taxonomy of fossil and living bison, the behaviour of modern bison, and what is known from ethnohistoric and archaeological sources about the ways that Indians conducted these drives, including the use of foot surrounds, cliff jumps, arroyo traps, and pounds (corrals). The chapter concludes by considering whether such drives were conducted annually in the late fall and/or early winter as a means of winter provisioning; or instead were conducted periodically, but not necessarily annually, and at many different times of year, as a socio-political mechanism for integrating otherwise widely dispersed and highly mobile hunting bands.
Zooarchaeological results from Neolithic and Bronze Age wetland and dryland sites in the Central Alpine Foreland: economic, ecologic, and taphonomic relevance
A small but very diverse structured landscape, a high degree of preservation of archaeological findings and structures because of waterlogged conditions, and very precise dendrochronological dating are the advantages of the archaeological and archaeozoological situation in Switzerland. These opportunities allow differentiating the topographic, environmental, and cultural conditions that influenced and shaped the role of domestic and wild animals in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Because of the proximity to the Alps, unfavourable weather conditions had a strong impact on agricultural production, resulting frequently in a more intense use of wild resources. Therefore, during the Neolithic, but even in the Bronze Age, hunting played periodically an important role. On the other hand, the topographic situation, the extent of open landscapes resulting from human clearances, as well as cultural influences, are responsible for the variable importance of different domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, goat, and pig.
The zooarchaeology of complexity and specialization during the Upper Palaeolithic in Western Europe: changing diversity and evenness
Over the last twenty years attempts have been made to determine the nature of Upper Palaeolithic hunting specialization. This chapter traces assemblage structural ‘specialization’, where faunal assemblages are dominated by a single species, vs ‘diversity’, in which all recorded species are well represented, between 45,000 and 10,000 bp (Châtelperronian to Azilian), and demonstrates regularity in the archaeozoological record. It moves away from the assumption that assemblages with at least 90% of bones attributable to a single species result from specialized hunting strategies, and seeks explanations for patterns of diversification. The study also deals with the Late Glacial Maximum with its narrowing resource base and the Magdalenian of southwest France, when specialized reindeer hunting is traditionally considered of paramount importance. The chapter uses measures of diversity and evenness to quantify variation observed through time, highlighting a peak in single-species exploitation during the Middle Upper Palaeolithic. Finally, interpretations are offered for future consideration.