Zooarchaeology | prehistory


This picture is of a Pazyryk man riding a red horse shown in profile view. The man has black hair and is wearing a flowing red and blue polka dotted cape.
Carpet exemplifying the image of a Pazyryk horseman in 300 B.C. The Pazyryk were known as superb horseman please see Pazyryk culture, other findings alongside the horses can be explored in Pazyryk burials.

Human-Animal relationships and interactions were diverse during Prehistory from being a food source to playing a more intimate role in society.[5] Animals have been used in non-economical ways such as being part of a human burial. However, the major zooarchaeology has focused on who was eating what by looking at various remains such as bones, teeth, and fish scales.[5] In the twenty-first century researchers have begun to interpret animals in prehistory in wider cultural and social patterns, focusing on how the animals have affected humans and possible animal agency.[5] There is evidence of animals such as the Mountain Lion or the Jaguar being used for ritualistic purposes, but not being eaten as a food source.[5]

Animal burials date back to prehistory with examples emerging from the Mesolithic period. In Sweden at the burial site Skateholm I dogs were found buried with children under eight years old or were found buried by themselves. Some of the dogs who were buried alone have grave goods similar to their human contemporaries such as flint weapons and deer antlers.[5] Meanwhile, during the same time period Skateholm II emerged and was very different than Skateholm I, as dogs were buried along on the North and West boundaries of the grave area.[5] Another burial site in Siberia near Lake Biakal known as the "Lokomotiv" cemetery had a wolf burial among human graves.[5][6] Buried together with, but slightly beneath the wolf was a male human skull.[6] The wolf breed was not native to this area as it was warm and other research for the area shows no other wolf habitation.[6] Bazaliiskiy & Savelyev suggests that the presence and significance of the wolf could possibly reflect human interaction.[6] Another example occurred in 300 B.C. in Pazyryk known as the Pazyryk burials where ten horses were buried alongside a human male, the horses were fully adorned with saddles, pendants, among other valuables.[5] The oldest horse as also the horse with the grandest attachments. Erica Hill, a professor in archaeology, suggests that the burials of prehistory animals can shed light on human-animal relationships.[5]