Methodological Biases in Zooarchaeology and the Interpretation of Human Activity from the Faunal Record

Methodological Biases in Zooarchaeology and the Interpretation of Human Activity from the Faunal Record

Rebecca Torgerson

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Abstract

Zooarchaeology is a growing multidisciplinary field, which can answer questions about the relationship of humans and other animals and its effects on the environment. There are significant advantages to studying faunal data over other types of assemblages. First, bones allow for a culture-free taxonomy where there is little question of use. Second, faunal data from the past can be matched to species that still exist in the modern day. The latter especially, allows for the use of middle range theory or the ability to create a controlled experiment with living systems based on general principles. The biases in the methods of zooarchaeology can affect interpretation of human activity, therefore taphonomy, recovery, identification, and choice of quantification methods should be taken into account. Each of these methods should be standardized and tailored to a specific research question. Also I believe with the help of ethnoarchaeology we can increase awareness and even reduce some of the biases in zooarchaeology.

Keywords: Zooarchaeology, ethnoarchaeology, methods

Download Full Text – Torgerson 2013

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