Concepts of the body and personhood in the Mesolithic-Neolithic Danube Gorges: interpreting animal remains from human burials

  • Ivana Živaljević Laboratory for Bioarchaeology Department of Archaeology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Keywords:
animal agency, personhood, embodiment, perspectivism, Mesolithic- Neolithic, Danube Gorges, Lepenski Vir, Vlasac, human-animal relations, burials

Abstract

In recent years, humanities have brought forward the idea of non-human agency; either in the form of meanings bestowed upon objects, animals and natural phenomena, or through deconstruction of ontological differences between ‘people’ and ‘things’. In case of the former, it has been argued that non-human agents have the power to act as ‘participants’ in social action (e.g. the agentive power of material properties of things, or of animal behaviour). In this paper, I discuss the practice of placing animal body parts alongside human bodies in the Mesolithic-Neolithic Danube Gorges, by using the concept of perspectivism as a theoretical framework. The choice of species and their body parts varied, but was by no means accidental. Rather, it reflected certain culturally specific taxonomies, which were based on animal properties: how they look, move, feel or what they do. Common examples include red deer antlers, which have the power to ‘regenerate’ each year, or dog mandibles (physical remains of ‘mouths’) which have the power to ‘communicate’ (i.e. bark). The aim of the paper is to explore how various aspects of animal corporeality, associated with certain ways of seeing and experiencing the world, could be ‘borrowed’ by humans utilizing animal body parts.

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Published
2016-02-28
How to Cite
Živaljević, I. (2016). Concepts of the body and personhood in the Mesolithic-Neolithic Danube Gorges: interpreting animal remains from human burials. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology, 10(3), 675-699. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v10i3.6