We all know how important the animal is to us in our modern day life and the essential part it plays in helping to keep ecological balance on our planet.
It has been like this for thousands of years and archaeologists routinely gather evidence of animal remains and their relationship to the human to give us a more complete picture of what ancient life was like.
Archaeozoology is the study of animal remains taken from archeology sites. The object is to examine their physiology and ecology and to gain a better understanding of their environment leading up to their demise. The main areas of investigation would include animal domestication, exploitation and use patterns, how the animals were killed , and what dietary contributions these animals gave to the community.
Archaeozoologists study all kinds of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as molluscs and other invertebrates. To facilitate this examination they will use many methods which can include historical documents, pictorial evidence, and collecting the paelo-fecal remains.
The animal can provide food, warmth, shelter tools, energy and transportation. They have carried the human in warfare and in times of peace. They have played an important part in religious activity and have also served as companions or pets.
Animal bones are usually found in large amounts on even the most earliest of archaeological sites, and their value as a first degree source in opening up a window to the past is immeasurable. By studying the past lives of these animals in connection with human life on earth gives us a better idea of how man adapted to his environment and how sociological patterns were set into place.
The archaeozoologist will study:
* Ancient environments and the effects of a changing environment on human cultures.
* Hunters and the type of prey they killed.
* The origins of animal husbandry.
* How animal breeds become developed.
* How animals were seen in society in relation to economic, social and religion.
There is an abundance of technological help that the archaeozoologists can rely on to verify hypothesis. This would include ethnographic studies, pictographic evidence, the analysis of chemical composition, isotopic signatures, and genetic tests.
From the beginning of human existence and up to the present day, animals have touched human life in a way that has made them an intrinsic part of our very existence. Studying the bones of the animals that shared the lives of our ancestors can give us the vital clues that help to give us a build a clearer and much more accurate picture of how these early humans lived and died.