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Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World

Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World

Benjamin S. Arbuckle
Sue Ann McCarty
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World
    Book Description:

    Animals and Inequality in the Ancient Worldexplores the current trends in the social archaeology of human-animal relationships, focusing on the ways in which animals are used to structure, create, support, and even deconstruct social inequalities.

    The authors provide a global range of case studies from both New and Old World archaeology-a royal Aztec dog burial, the monumental horse tombs of Central Asia, and the ceremonial macaw cages of ancient Mexico among them. They explore the complex relationships between people and animals in social, economic, political, and ritual contexts, incorporating animal remains from archaeological sites with artifacts, texts, and iconography to develop their interpretations.

    Animals and Inequality in the Ancient Worldpresents new data and interpretations that reveal the role of animals, their products, and their symbolism in structuring social inequalities in the ancient world. The volume will be of interest to archaeologists, especially zooarchaeologists, and classical scholars of pre-modern civilizations and societies.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-286-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Benjamin S. Arbuckle and Sue Ann McCarty

    The interaction of humans and animals has fascinated scholars for generations and continues to be a productive focus of research across a range of disciplines (Calder 2011; Campana et al. 2010; Clutton-Brock and Grigson 1983; Flannery, Marcus, and Reynolds 1989; Frizell 2004; Guerrini 2003; Ingold 1988; Nitecki and Nitecki 1986; Shipman 2011; van Buren 1939). Part of the reason for this continued interest is the degree to which animals are integrated into the fabric of human cultures and thus provide material and symbolic reference points around which cosmologies, cultural practices, aesthetics, and identities are built.

    Archaeological approaches to the human-animal...

  7. 1 Animals and the State: The Role of Animals in State-Level Rituals in Mesoamerica
    (pp. 11-32)
    Nawa Sugiyama, Gilberto Pérez, Bernardo Rodríguez, Fabiola Torres and Raúl Valadez

    This chapter questions the ways in which human-animal interactions directly contributed to the reification of social hierarchies in the context of state-level rituals in ancient Mesoamerica. Animals were chosen to participate in elaborate rituals, whether as costumes in dances, as military regalia, as powerful icons, or as victims of sacrifice. We focus on a case study from the site of Teotihuacan, a cosmopolitan center that arose in the Basin of Mexico during the Classic period between approximately 100 BC and AD 650. At this site, the Moon Pyramid Project has uncovered a series of five burial offerings (Sugiyama and López...

  8. 2 Entering the Underworld: Animal Offerings at the Foot of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan
    (pp. 33-62)
    Leonardo López Luján, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Belem Zúñiga-Arellano, Alejandra Aguirre Molina and Norma Valentín Maldonado

    Archaeological data relating to the fauna exploited by the Mexicas and their neighbors in the Basin of Mexico are relatively sparse. To a large extent, this is due to the fact that the majority of pre-Hispanic settlements from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries have gradually been buried under Mexico City, a megalopolis that today houses more than 20 million inhabitants and that continues to grow at an unbridled rate (see Parsons 1989). Archaeologists have excavated only a few rural sites in detail, revealing some of the complex human-animal relationships in these kinds of contexts at the time of the arrival...

  9. 3 The Luxury of Variety: Animals and Social Distinction at the Wari site of Cerro Baúl, Southern Peru
    (pp. 63-84)
    Susan D. deFrance

    Distinct culinary and ritual uses of animals between members of different social strata are powerful and visual means to establish and maintain social disparity. How did the elites of an early Andean state society use animals to distinguish themselves from the general populace and bolster social and political inequality? The site of Cerro Baúl, located in far southern Peru, is a provincial capital of the Andean Wari imperium (Andean Middle Horizon) whose faunal assemblage demonstrates that the “luxury of variety” in animal use was an elite prerogative that fostered social inequality.

    The ability to acquire a variety of animals reflects...

  10. 4 Shifting Patterns of Maya Social Complexity through Time: Preliminary Zooarchaeological Results from San Bartolo, Guatemala
    (pp. 85-106)
    Ashley E. Sharpe, William A. Saturno and Kitty F. Emery

    This study presents the initial results of the analysis of vertebrate remains recovered during the first five excavation seasons at the Maya site of San Bartolo, Guatemala, with a focus on social inequality among elite and intermediary classes as revealed by differences in animal remains from ritual and secular deposits. San Bartolo provides an unprecedented view of the religion, art, and lifestyles of the ancient Maya, particularly during the poorly understood Preclassic period and the transition from Preclassic to Late Classic periods. Located within the swampy lowlands of the Petén forest (Figure 4.1), the site was initially occupied at least...

  11. 5 Animals as Symbols, Animals as Resources: The Elite Faunal Record in the Mississippian World
    (pp. 107-124)
    H. Edwin Jackson

    In the great civilizations of the Old and New Worlds, particularly where domesticated livestock provided the primary source of meat, animals were commodities, leveraged in economic and political transactions by those in power just as other resources were (deFrance 2009). Autocratic rulers controlled the goals and scale of production in centralized economies, and could divert livestock resources as needed to support the goals of state, as well as control access to animal products in a manner that ensured that the social and political order was reflected by patterns of consumption. In the late prehistoric Mississippian societies that populated the southeastern...

  12. 6 The Parrots of Paquimé: A Look at the Role of Aviculture in Thirteenth-Century Northern Mexico
    (pp. 125-144)
    Abigail Holeman

    The desert of northern Mexico is not the place one would expect to find extensive remains of tropical birds. However, in northwestern Chihuahua that is exactly what has been found. Charles C. Di Peso and Eduardo Contreras found secure evidence for the raising and breeding of scarlet macaws at Paquimé (also known as Casas Grandes) during their excavations at the site in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Di Peso et al. 1974; Somerville et al. 2010). The presence of large quantities of macaws has long been a point of interest for scholars and lay people alike, and the abundance...

  13. 7 Ritual, Cuisine, and Commensal Politics at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
    (pp. 145-166)
    Adam S. Watson

    During the ninth century AD, a vast portion of the southern Colorado Plateau comprised the Ancestral Pueblo world and was home to sedentary villages whose inhabitants practiced a combination of rain-fed maize agriculture and hunting and gathering. In the tenth century, Chaco Canyon communities began to form a regional network of unprecedented size and scope that was sustained for nearly three hundred years. While rooted in preexisting Pueblo patterns, Chaco stands out from its contemporaries in many ways. Large, multistory, room-block structures or Great Houses, constructed meticulously with sandstone masonry and massive quantities of pine beams harvested from forests eighty...

  14. 8 Pelts and Provisions: Faunal Remains and the Emergence of Social Inequality in Central Coastal California
    (pp. 167-186)
    Charlotte K. Sunseri

    The use of animals for food and byproducts in the Monterey Bay area of California is one axis along which social difference and inequality may be visible archaeologically. In this chapter zooarchaeological data from multiple assemblages are investigated along with beads, obsidian, and other artifacts to understand the role that animal resources played in the emergence of wealth-based social differentiation. Although wealth accumulation and exchange systems that are focused on shell beads and obsidian tools have been understood through previous investigations of burials and residential areas, faunal remains have contributed little to the story. This chapter explores evidence for social...

  15. 9 Animals and Social Change: A Case of the Middle Neolithic in the North European Plain
    (pp. 187-208)
    Arkadiusz Marciniak

    The Neolithic brought with it the creation of new worlds (Whittle 1996). It was achieved through varied mechanisms and processes and with various media and resources. Domesticated and wild animals were integral and central elements of these social worlds. The keeping, maintaining, and controlling of major domesticates such as cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats, and eating their flesh, were exercised as integral parts of the process of making a living. Animals contributed to creating and maintaining social relations, in particular construction of individual and communal identity through different kinds of engagements such as sacrifice, feasting, and exchange. Although animals have...

  16. 10 Inequality and the Origins of Wool Production in Central Anatolia
    (pp. 209-230)
    Benjamin S. Arbuckle

    In the ancient Near East the rise of complex societies characterized by significant, stable, and, in many cases, oppressive inequalities, is closely linked with the reorganization of economic systems through increasing specialization and intensification in the production and exchange of many products and services (Algaze 2008; Wattenmaker 1998; Wright and Johnson 1975; Zeder 1991). With an emphasis on exchange and surplus, commodity production and even product branding became central considerations of Late Chalcolithic and Bronze Age elites as they sought to reify and even expand the material and symbolic foundations of their ascendancy (Rothman 2000; Wengrow 2008, 2010). Although studies...

  17. 11 Tracing Inequality from Assur to Kültepe/Kanesh: Merchants, Donkeys, and Clay Tablets
    (pp. 231-250)
    Levent Atici

    Archaeologists often classify ancient societies using a set of criteria to determine whether the social organization of that society warrants the label “complex.” Complex societies are usually stratified with differential and unequal access to positions of power, prestige, high status, and economic resources. The most characteristic aspect of a complex society is permanent and institutionalized inequality with vertical differentiation (Ames 2007:24). Identification of social complexity and inequality in the archaeological record, however, is not an easy task because of our vague understanding of the meaning of and relationships between diverse social, ideological, economic, and spiritual concepts and their reflections in...

  18. 12 Animal, Human, God: Pathways of Shang Animality and Divinity
    (pp. 251-274)
    Roderick Campbell

    In this short quotation Ingold raises three issues relevant to animals and inequality. First, in returning to the Old English etymology ofthingas a “gathering” he suggests that the nature of things is not bounded and atomistic, but rather collective and interconnected. Second, in seeing people in the same terms he implies potential equivalence. Third, in conceiving both humans and things as tied-together paths of growth and movement, he asks us to consider the dimension of time and the potential for transformation. In what follows I explore these themes through a study of Shang human-animal interactions and their relationships...

  19. 13 Inequality on the Surface: Horses, Power, and Community in the Mongolian Bronze Age
    (pp. 275-294)
    Joshua Wright

    The large, resource-intensive monuments of the Mongolian Bronze Age are often presented as demonstrations of elite power and territorial control (Allard and Erdenebaatar 2005; Fitzhugh 2009; Houle 2009; Houle and Erdenebaatar 2009). However, in this chapter, I argue that they can be interpreted as monuments that discourage inequality by commemorating events of social cohesion (see Bradley 1993, 1998; Edmonds 1999), and that the largest monuments are not monuments to hierarchy but are instead demonstrations of community solidarity and leveling mechanisms in a Bronze Age society in which models of social order were being negotiated by early nomadic pastoralists.

    Ethnohistorically, Inner...

  20. 14 Pythons, Pigs, and Political Process in the Hueda Kingdom, Benin, West Africa AD 1650–1727
    (pp. 295-314)
    Neil L. Norman

    The kingdom of Hueda, located in the modern Republic of Benin, was an African state that flourished during the middle Atlantic period, ca. AD 1650–1727 (Law 1990, 2004). In terms of settlement organization and political structure, Huedans drew from the urban tradition of the region, where as early as ca. AD 1000, archaeological evidence from nearby Nigeria indicates that elite people inhabited palace complexes that were in turn surrounded by agriculturalists and artisans who lived in rural villages, and regional administrators who lived in densely settled centers (Ogundiran 2001; Shaw 1977, 1978). International markets, located near the Huedan palace...

  21. 15 “Tails” of Romanization: Animals and Inequality in the Roman Mediterranean Context
    (pp. 315-334)
    Michael MacKinnon

    Although the terminequalitymay appear, at one level, rather straightforward (e.g., some imbalance within a concept or category), upon closer inspection one realizes such imbalances themselves may span multiple components. Who or what has more, and why? Who or what ranks higher, and why? Who or what is privileged or special, and why? In essence, inequalities permeate myriad components of culture, whether or not humans acknowledge, institutionalize, or otherwise mark these aspects. Although inequalities exist even among egalitarian societies, they are arguably more pervasive in complex societies, where the span between ends measured on this scale of imbalance is...

  22. 16 Wool Production, Wealth, and Trade in Middle Saxon England
    (pp. 335-352)
    Pam J. Crabtree and Douglas V. Campana

    Our research at the Anglo-Saxon sites of West Stow and Brandon in western Suffolk, England, suggests that a shift in animal-husbandry practices took place during the seventh and eighth centuries AD. Here we present our zooarchaeological data from the new excavations at Early Anglo-Saxon West Stow¹ (ca. AD 420–650) and Middle Anglo-Saxon Brandon (ca. AD 650–850). We compare these data to a broad survey of zooarchaeological data from over thirty Early and Middle Anglo-Saxon sites in eastern England. These data suggest a shift from a pattern of relative self-sufficiency to one based on specialized production of commodities such...

  23. 17 The Rhetoric of Meat Apportionment: Evidence for Exclusion, Inclusion, and Social Position in Medieval England
    (pp. 353-374)
    Naomi Sykes

    Over the last few decades, faunal-remains specialists have become increasingly adept at identifying social inequality in the zooarchaeological record, and able to characterize “high-status” and “low-status” sites based on the presence or absence of different animal species, age groups, body parts, or other variants (e.g., Ashby 2002; Crabtree 1990). However, with this advance has come the recognition that inequality is more complex than a high/low-status label. The perception and expression of inequality is often situational and shifting; what may be a marker of elite identity in one setting can be a trait of lower social standing in another (deFrance 2009;...

  24. List of Contributors
    (pp. 375-376)
  25. Index
    (pp. 377-388)