Zooarchaeology

Zooarchaeology (sometimes called archaeozoology), also known as faunal analysis, is a branch of archaeology that studies remains of animals from archaeological sites.[1] Faunal remains are the items left behind when an animal dies.[1] These include bones, shells, hair, chitin, scales, hides, proteins and DNA.[1] Of these items, bones and shells are the ones that occur most frequently at archaeological sites where faunal remains can be found.[1] Most of the time, a majority of these faunal remains do not survive.[1] They often decompose or break because of various circumstances.[1] This can cause difficulties in identifying the remains and interpreting their significance.[1]

Egyptian mummy of a dog front and profile views

Zooarchaeology serves as a "hybrid" discipline: combining the studies of archaeology and zoology, which are the study of past human culture and the study of animals respectively.[2] Therefore, zooarchaeologists may also be: anthropologists, paleontologists, archaeologists, zoologists, ecologists, etc.[3] However, the main focus of Zoo-archaeology is to not only find remnants of past animals, but to then identify and understand how humans and their environment (mainly animal populations) coexisted.[3] Zooarchaeology allows researchers to have a more holistic understanding of past human-environment interactions, thus making this topic a sub-field of environmental archaeology. Whether it is diet, domestication, tool use, or ritual; the study of animal remains provides a great amount of information about the groups that interacted with them. Archaeology provides information on the past which often proves invaluable for understanding the present and preparing for the future.[4] Zoo archaeology plays a valuable part in contributing to a holistic understanding of the animals themselves, the nearby groups, and the local environments.


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Zooarchaeology, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.