Session: #493

Theme & Session Format

4. Persisting with Change: Theory and Archaeological Scrutiny
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Animals mediating the real and imaginary: In Search for New Understandings of Human-Animal Relationships
The study of animal remains from archaeological sites occupies a prominent position in the study of ancient societies, helping us to explore subsistence strategies, use of landscape and environment, mobility and seasonality, craft techniques, among others in a variety of cultural contexts across space and time. However, archaeological enquiry into the human-animal relationship tends to remain focused on human agency and exploitation of animals, rather than on human-animal relationships, interactions and engagements, and proceed along distinct trajectories in scholarly literature, focusing either on zooarchaeological, bioarchaeological, literary, iconographic or artefact research. By exploring the intersection between real and imaginary animals in the past, this session aims to evaluate and contextualise various ways in which humans and animals interact, as reflected by:
- Animal representations on various media, such as in literary and iconographic materials, that enables insight into the diverse roles of animals in life-worlds, religions, cosmologies, and ontologies.
- Traces of animals and animal materials in the archaeological record, including transformed animal body parts (e.g., exploited animals, source of food, companion animals, sacrificial victims, votive offerings, ingredients for magical spells) and ritual practices.
- Evidence of everyday practices acknowledging how communities were co-created in inter-species dialogues, exploring how relationships between humans, domesticated and wild animals have unfolded and differed over time, such hunters and fishermen seeking out or attracting prey, transhumance routes co-created by humans and animals, and animals moving into human settlements as commensal species or fully domesticated co-inhabitants, eventually forming deep-rooted social bonds.
We invite papers that open up new channels of dialogue and cross-disciplinary collaboration, explore the space unfolding between humans and animals as living beings with agency, and how encounters with animals have sparked the human imagination irrespective of chronological periods. We are seeking examples of best practice, to further develop the field.
Animals, human-animal relationship, imagination, inter-species, zooarchaeology, cross-disciplinarity
Session associated with MERC:
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Main organiser:
Anja Mansrud (Norway) 1
Barbara Care (Switzerland) 2
Dimitris Filioglou (Greece) 3
Sigmund Oehrl (Norway) 4
Kristin Armstrong-Oma (Norway) 4
1. University of Stavanger
2. Department of Art History and Archaeology/FNS, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
3. The Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science, ASCSA Athens
4. Museum of Archaeology, University of Stavanger