Session: #567

Theme & Session Format

1. Artefacts, Buildings & Ecofacts
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Animals Make Identities: How People Expressed Their Social Affinities in the Stone Age? [PaM]
Animals were the main companions, both in a material and a cosmological sense, inhabiting the Stone Age environments together with humans. Human-animal relationships were forged through the interactions and engagements in daily life, which in different forms continued to be present also after the death of animals and humans.

Burials are considered as one of the most vivid representations of human identities. Animal remains, particularly tooth pendants, comprise a significant part of hunter-gatherer grave inventories. Animal remains and artefacts made from animal body parts have been assigned as having active agency of shaping and transforming human identities. Animal derived objects (e.g., tools and various details of the costume) and their manufacture technology can represent the attitudes relating to identity, origin, kinship, family, and social roles.

The ecology of animal species, such as their behaviour and feeding habits, afford particular interspecies relations and affects how they were perceived by humans. Animals have had various roles in human societies, but certain species were more essential ideologically and symbolically, while others were more vital for subsistence. Nevertheless, only certain animal species or body parts were chosen to follow in the grave with the deceased.

With this session we aim to bring together zooarchaeological, bioarchaeological and artefact research in order to understand how animals and animal-derived artefacts contributed in making and showing identities of humans in Stone Age. The focus is in hunter-gatherer societies but we welcome also studies focusing in pastoral and early farming communities. We especially call for interdisciplinary and interpretative studies on the active social roles of animals, their body parts, and artefacts made from animal materials among prehistoric populations. We welcome contributions dealing with all archaeological contexts, not solely burials.
human-animal relationships, hunter-gatherers, identity, Stone Age, bioachaeology, zooarchaeology
Session associated with MERC:
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Main organiser:
Aija Macane (Latvia) 1,2
Ivana Živaljević (Serbia) 3
Kristiina Mannermaa (Finland) 1
1. University of Helsinki
2. University of Latvia, Institute of Latvian History
3. University of Novi Sad