Zooarchaeology—the study of the human past through animal remains—has often been said to demonstrate that animals have had a variety of tangible roles in relation to human individuals and cultures throughout time: from sources of food to implements of labour. In contrast, intangible aspects of the human-animal relationship have been generally unrecognized and only recently appreciated within (zoo)archaeological discourse. Through exploratory case studies of research at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Cis-Baikal, it is suggested here that new modes of reflecting upon human-animal bonds are necessary in order to better understand the multifarious meanings and uses of faunal remains from archaeological contexts. Syntheses of human behaviour and belief in relation to non-human animals should incorporate emic cultural understandings, which may be discovered through the devices of ethnographic survey and ethnoarchaeology. Animals are thusly appraised as more than mere sources of subsistence, or tools of transport. A social zooarchaeology, focusing on the intimate affinities between humans and animals, can provide alternative insights into the lived experiences of human cultures.
In other words, the purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which the practice of zooarchaeology has developed and changed over time, correlating these transformations with progress in theory in the wider field of archaeology. It is an effort to tackle zooarchaeology specifically and bioarchaeology more generally from a theoretical standpoint. The paper incorporates theoretical concepts related to materiality, entanglement, and agency, which appear to be gaining ground in archaeological discourse. These ideas are explored through the context of the aforementioned archaeological sites and the interpretations related to the data from these sites that have been proposed through time. Overall, this paper attempts to clarify and bring to light some of the issues related to current conceptualizations of theory in zooarchaeological practice.
"Bodies of Information: Human-Animal Entanglement at Çatalhöyük and Cis-Baikal as Seen Through Zooarchaeology,"
Totem: The University of Western Ontario Journal of Anthropology: Vol. 23
, Article 6.
Available at: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/totem/vol23/iss1/6
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