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.
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.
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.
Archaeozoological techniques and protocols for elaborating scenarios of early colonization and Neolithization of Cyprus
This paper summarizes some of the main results that have been obtained through the archaeozoological study of the large Cypriot Pre-Pottery Neolithic site of Shillourokambos, dated between 8300 and 7000 cal bc. It shows how the presence of the archaeozoologists in the field, as well as an original faunal-based critical approach of the relative chronology of the different phases of occupation of this site, can improve the quality of the archaeozoological contribution to the cultural history of the region. Special attention is also paid to the osteometric study of sexually dimorphic ungulates. The results concern the evolution of the system of exploitation of the animal resources during this important phase of the Near Eastern Neolithic transition. They also evidence the long-distance exchanges between early Neolithic villages and they indirectly document the early history of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean.
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.
Guillermo Luis Mengoni Goñalons
South American Camelids (SAC) occupied a central role in the development of Andean societies and were an essential element of the cultural landscape. During the Inca period camelids had a major significance to people, integrating their economy, social, political, and ritual life. Camelids were a key instrument for the expansion and establishment of the Inca Empire. Llamas were used as beasts of burden for transporting goods along extensive redistribution networks that connected the highlands, valleys, and Pacific coast. From a utilitarian perspective camelids provided different products (e.g. meat, wool). This chapter illustrates the strategies used by the Incas for managing these ungulates by presenting some case studies from the Qollasuyu, the southeastern quarter of the Inca Empire.
Cattle were an essential element of the economy of the kingdom of Kerma, located between the first and fourth cataract in Egypt, which flourished between 2600 and 1500 bc. They are an important source of protein and labour, as well as secondary products (milk, hides, tools, etc.). The role of cattle in funerary rituals is attested by the presence of bucrania, which were placed facing the deceased in the burial mounds, sometimes in large numbers. Some burials contained bucrania with parallel horns, whereas others had a deliberately misshapen horn. In the Classic Kerma phase, cattle become less important, and the bucrania around the burials rarer. This may be linked to a worsening of the climate and a rapidly growing human population. The significance of cattle in the Kerma culture is evidenced by baked clay figurines, by paintings visible in the excavated funerary ‘chapels’, and by the presence of engraved ostrich eggs.
Changes in lifestyle in ancient Rome (Italy) across the Iron Age/Roman transition: the evidence from animal remains
Jacopo De Grossi Mazzorin and Claudia Minniti
As concerns the continuing debate over the impact of Roman conquest in the world, Rome represents a very interesting case study as it represented the core of the Roman Empire and the geographic foundation of Roman culture. In this respect, the zooarchaeology of Rome itself provides a most promising area of investigation, as the modern city has been the scene of extensive archaeological activity in recent years. The results from the analysis of animal assemblages from Rome and neighbouring geographic areas show that significant changes occurred across the pre-Roman/Roman transition and throughout the Roman period. They include substantial changes in diet, with pork consumption becoming predominant, improvements in pig and other livestock, the development of breeds and varieties of dogs, and the introduction of exotic animals for use in exhibitions and games.
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.
Tanya M. Peres
Hydrographic features dominate the Olmec heartland. Fishing, travel, transport, and trade via watercraft were essential parts of daily life. This chapter synthesizes archaeofaunal, iconographic, and biological data about human–animal relationships during the Formative period in the Gulf Coastal lowlands of Veracruz, Mexico. Aquatic environments were reliable sources of physical sustenance for the Olmec and Epi-Olmec, and fresh-water fish, turtles, and local and migratory water birds made up the daily diet. Animals found in marine environments were elevated to a sacred status and venerated in iconography, and jade and ceramic effigies and pendants became important parts of spiritual sustenance.
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.
Charles F. W. Higham
Farming in Southeast Asia is dominated two major crops, rice and millet, and domestic pigs, cattle, water buffalo, chickens, and dogs. The domestication of these species took place in China, and the first farmers began to settle Southeast Asia in the early second millennium bc. They integrated with the indigenous hunter-gatherers, and were heavily reliant not only on their crops and domestic animals, but also on hunting, gathering, and fishing. An agricultural revolution took place during the Iron Age, involving plough agriculture in permanent fields. Ownership of improved land would have stimulated the rise of social elites and dependent craft specialists, factors underlying the rapid formation of early states.
Rebecca M. Dean
The Hohokam of Arizona, USA, created one of the most intensive agricultural systems in North America. Their hunting economy intensified along with the agricultural system, but intensification (measured through the diversification of hunting strategies) was mitigated by a variety of processes, not all of which are easily understood by traditional methods of measuring intensification, such as diet breadth models. Hunting intensification was limited by constraints placed on hunters due to agricultural labour needs, and affected by changes in local landscapes for agricultural purposes. The hunting behaviour of the Hohokam cannot be understood solely in its own terms, as a product of optimal decision-making based on the availability of prey in the landscape at large. Rather, decisions were contextualized within the constraints of the social and labour organization of the agricultural system, and were contingent on the changes that had been made to that landscape as a result of agricultural demands.
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.
This chapter reviews evidence for the exploitation of animals in Medieval northwest Russia, highlighting the evidence from the town of Novgorod and its hinterland. The zooarchaeological evidence from this region has been complemented by other sources of archaeological and documentary evidence. Most faunal assemblages are dominated by cattle, which were of small stature and exploited mainly for their meat and milk. There is evidence that pigs became less important in later periods. Sheep and goat were poorly represented on most sites, but with goats forming a higher proportion of the sheep/goat remains than on many other European sites. Evidence for fur trade in the region comes mainly from sites deep in the forest zone. Horsemeat was consumed, although horses were mainly valued as transport animals. The high-status site of Ryurik Gorodishche produced evidence for organized carcass-processing, ritual deposition of horse skulls, and the import of exotic species.
Historical zooarchaeology of colonialism, mercantilism, and indigenous dispossession: the Dutch East India Company’s meat industry at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Adam R. Heinrich
The investigation of the Dutch East India Company’s (VOC) meat industry that was emplaced at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa reveals information about livestock production, slaughter, and consumption at the colonial entrepot in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The investigation consisted of five faunal samples including three sites from the Castle of Good Hope; the Moat, the Granary (F2), and Donkergat (DKG); Elsenburg; and the Dump (DP) from Oudespost I. The archaeological faunal remains speak to transplanted and hybridized European husbandry practices as the VOC struggled to overcome initial hardships of meeting high meat demands to become the dominant power across the landscape while dispossessing the indigenous Khoekhoe peoples of their livestock, land, and identity.
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.