Animals between Nature and Culture: The Story of Archaeozoology


  • Ivana Živaljević Laboratory for Bioarchaeology, Department of Archaeology Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade



archaeozoology, dichotomy, nature, culture, animals, animal remains


The paper aims to tell the story of archaeozoology and utilize it to point out changes in the perception of nature and culture, the perception of animals as organisms that belong entirely to the domain of nature (unlike people who ‘build’ culture onto their nature), as well as display how these perceptions shaped the discipline of archaeozoology and influenced its position within archaeology. Animal remains, almost as a rule, represent some of the most common findings at archaeological sites; however, the attention which has been given to them in archaeological analysis and interpretation was largely dependent on the dominant paradigms in science. With the appearance of the ‘new’ or processual paradigm in archaeology and the concurrent development of archaeozoology, findings like these became the object of study and an important ‘key’ for understanding questions of sustenance, economy and strategies of survival in the past. The strict divide between the natural sciences and humanities (which is a consequence of the wider modernist narrative about the dichotomy of nature and culture), meant that only specialized experts could study animal remains, and that animal remains should be viewed, studied and published on separately from studies on architecture, sculptures and figurines, tools and other artifacts. Thus, archaeozoological reports long represented merely a kind of ‘addition’ to archaeological publications and rarely figured significantly in interpretations. With the paradigm shift brought on by post-processual archaeology, the research focus shifted from economic and functionalist explanations of social phenomena to the study of the influence of culture on shaping human behavior and values. Social theories of cultural constructivism indicate that concepts of ‘humanity’ and ‘animality’ are culturally shaped and a product of discourse, but they often ignore osteological analyses of human and animal remains in the process. Even though at first glance it may seem that constructivist studies and the positivist scientific method on which osteology is based are mutually exclusive in contemporary archaeology, their integration can provide a more detailed picture of how animals shape the way in which humans experience the world, of meanings ascribed to animals, as well as of the very nature of boundaries between people and animals in different cultural contexts.



Download data is not yet available.


Alberti, Benjamin and Tamara L. Bray. 2009. Animating Archaeology: of Subjects, Objects and Alternative Ontologies. Introduction. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19 (3): 337–43.

Argent, Gala. u pripremi. „Synchronies: Relationship Stages, Domestication and Social Mimicry in Iron Age Eurasia“. In Animal Agency, eds. Kristin Armstrong Oma and Gala Argent.

Armstrong Oma, Kristin. 2007. Human-animal Relationships: Mutual becomings in Scandinavian and Sicilian households 900-500 BC. Oslo: Unipub / Oslo Academic Press.

Armstrong Oma, Kristin. 2010. Between trust and domination: social contracts between humans and animals. World Archaeology 42 (2): 175-187.

Armstrong Oma, Kristin and Gala Argent. (eds.) u pripremi. Animal Agency.

Babić, Staša i Miodrag Tomović (ur.) 1996. Milutin Garašanin. Razgovori o arheologiji. Beograd: 3T.

Binford, Lewis R. 1981. Bones: ancient men and modern myths. New York: Academic Press.

Bird-David, Nurit. 1999. “Animism” revisited: personhood, environment and relational epistemology. Current Anthropology 40 (Supplement): S67-S91.

Bökönyi, Sándor. 1974. History of Domestic Mammals in Central and Eastern Europe. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.

Borić, Dušan. 1999. Places that created time in the Danube Gorges and beyond, c. 9000-5500 BC. Documenta Praehistorica XXVI: 41-70.

Borić, Dušan. 2003. „Deep time“ metaphor: mnemonic and apotropaiac practices at Lepenski Vir. Journal of Social Archaeology 3 (1): 46-74.

Borić, Dušan. 2005. Body metamorphosis and animality: volatile bodies and boulder artworks from Lepenski Vir. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15 (1): 35-69.

Borić, Dušan. 2007. „Images of animality: hybrid bodies and mimesis in early prehistoric art“. In Material Beginnings: A Global Prehistory of Figurative Representation, eds. Collin Renfrew and Iain Morley, 89-105. Cambridge: The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research: Cambridge.

Brown, Linda A. and Kitty F. Emery. 2008. Negotiations with the Animate Forest: Hunting Shrines in the Guatemalan Highlands. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 15: 300–337.

Brown, Linda A. and William H. Walker. 2008. Prologue: Archaeology, Animism and Non-Human Agents. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 15: 297–299.

Brück, Joanna. 2007. „Ritual and Rationality. Some problems of interpretation in European archaeology“. In The Archaeology of Identities, ed. Timothy Insoll, 281-307. London and New York: Routledge.

Chapman, John. 2000. Fragmentation in Archaeology: People, Places and Broken Objects in the Prehistory of South-Eastern Europe. London: Routledge.

Chapman, John. 2001. „The fractality of personal relations in the Mesolithic and Neolithic of South East Europe“. In From the Mesolithic to the Neolithic (Proceedings of the International Archaeological Conference held in the Damjanich Museum of Szolnok, September 22-27, 1996), eds. Róbert Kertész and János Makkay, 145-165. Budapest: Archaeolingua.

Clutton-Brock, Juliet. 1994. „The unnatural world: behavioural aspects of humans and animals in the process of domestication“. In Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, eds. Aubrey Manning and James Serpell, 23-35. New York: Routledge.

Clutton-Brock, Juliet. 1999. A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, Esther. 1994. „Animals in medieval perceptions: the image of the ubiquitous other“. In Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, eds. Aubrey Manning and James Serpell, 59-80. New York: Routledge.

Cohen, Leonora D. 1936. Descartes and Henry More on the beast-machine - A translation of their correspondence pertaining to animal automatism. Annals of Science 1(1): 48-61.

Dimitrijević, Vesna. 2000. The Lepenski Vir fauna: bones in houses and between houses. Documenta Praehistorica XXVII: 101-117.

Fowler, Chris. 2004. The Archaeology of Personhood. An anthropological approach. London and New York: Routledge.

Fowler, Chris. 2010. „From identity and material culture to personhood and materiality“. In The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies, eds. Dan Hicks and Mary C. Beaudry, 352-385. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gay, Paul. du, Jessica Evans and Peter Redman (eds) 2004. Identity: a reader. London: Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Грин, Кевин. 2003. Увод у археологију. Историја, принципи и методи модерне археологије. Београд: CLIO.

Ingold, Tim. 1986. The Appropriation of Nature: Essays on Human Ecology and Social Relations. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Ingold, Tim. 1994a. „From trust to domination: an alternative history of human-animal relations“. In Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, eds. Aubrey Manning and James Serpell, 1-22. New York: Routledge.

Ingold, Tim. 1994b. Introduction to What is an Animal?, ed. Tim Ingold, 1-16. London: Routledge.

Ingold, Tim. 2007. Materials against materiality. Archaeological Dialogues 14 (1): 1-16.

Johannsen, Niels. u pripremi. „Agency of the Animate: Coming Back to Life in the Discipline of Things?“. In Animal Agency, eds. Kristin Armstrong Oma and Gala Argent.

Kent, Susan. 1989. „Cross-cultural perceptions of farmers as hunters and the value of meat“. In Farmers as Hunters: the implication of sedentism, ed. Susan Kent, 1-17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Larsson, Lars. 1990. „Dogs in fraction – symbols in action“. In Contributions to the Mesolithic in Europe, eds. Pierre M. Vermeersch and Philip Van Peer, 153-160. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1964. Totemism. R. Needham, transl. London: Merlin Press.

Lyman, Lee R. 1994. Vertebrate Taphonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Maehle, Andreas-Holger. 1994. „Cruelty and kindness to the ‘brute’ creation: stability and change in the ethics of Man-Animal relationship, 1600-1850“. In Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, eds. Aubrey Manning and James Serpell, 81-105. New York: Routledge.

Manning, Aubrey and James Serpell. 1994. Introduction to Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, eds. Aubrey Manning and James Serpell, xi-xii. New York: Routledge.

Murray, Penelope. 1998. „Bodies in flux: Ovid’s Metamorphoses“. In Changing Bodies, Changing Meanings. Studies on the Human Body in Antiquity, ed. Dominic Montserrat, 80-96. London and New York: Routledge.

Newmyer, Stephen T. 2011. Animals in Greek and Roman Thought. London and New York: Routledge.

O’ Connor, Terry P. 1996. A critical overview of archaeological animal bone studies. World Archaeology 28(1): 5-19.

Orton, David C. 2010. Taphonomy and Interpretation: An Analytical Framework for Social Zooarchaeology. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 22(3): 253–378.

Parker Pearson, Michael. 2009. The Archaeology of Death and Burial. Gloucestershire: The History Press.

Radovanović, Ivana. 1997. „The Lepenski Vir culture: a contri¬bution to interpretation of its ideological aspects“. In Antidoron Dragoslavo Srejović completis LXV annis ab amicis, collegis, discipulis oblatum, ed. Miroslav Lazić, 85-93. Belgrade: Center for Archaeological Research.

Russell, Nerissa. 2012. Social Zooarchaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Serpell, James and Elizabeth Paul. 1994. „Pets and the development of positive attitudes to animals“. In Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, eds. Aubrey Manning and James Serpell, 127-144. New York: Routledge.

Sofaer, Joanna R. 2006. The Body as Material Culture: a Theoretical Osteoarchaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Срејовић, Драгослав. 1969. Лепенски Вир. Нова праисторијска култура у Подунављу. Београд: Српска Књижевна Задруга.

Срејовић, Драгослав. 2001a [ориг. 1992]. „Археологија и природне науке – могућности и ограничења“. У Искуства прошлости, ур. Видојко Јовић, 197-201. Београд: Ars Libri, Кремен.

Срејовић, Драгослав. 2001b [ориг. 1992]. „Етнологија, археологија и антропологија данас“. У Искуства прошлости, ур. Видојко Јовић, 205-212. Београд: Ars Libri, Кремен.

Steeves, Peter H. 2002. „The familiar other and feral selves: life at the human/animal boundary“. In The Animal/Human Boundary: Historical Perspectives, eds. Angela N. H. Creager and William Chester Jordan, 228-264. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.

Thomas, Julian. 2007. „Archaeology’s humanism and the materiality of the body“. In The Archaeology of Identities, ed. Timothy Insoll, 211-224. London and New York: Routledge.

Thomas, Kenneth D. 1996. Zooarchaeology: past, present and future. World Archaeology 28(1): 1-4.

Tringham, Ruth. 1991. „Households with faces: the challenge of gender in prehistoric architectural remains“. In Engendering Archaeology. Women and Prehistory, eds. Joan M. Gero and Margaret W. Conkey, 93-131. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Vilaça, Aparecida. 2007. „Cultural Change as Body Metamorphosis“. In Time and Memory in Indigenous Amazonia. Anthropological Perspectives, eds. Carlos Fausto and Michael Heckenberger, 169-193. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 1998. Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4(3): 469- 488.

Vuković, Sonja and Mladen Jovičić. u štampi. „Dog burials from the cemeteries of the Roman city of Viminacium.“ Limes XXII: Proceedings of the XXIInd International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, Held in Ruse, Bulgaria (September 2012). Sofia: National Institute of Archaeology with Museum in Sofia.

Willerslev, Rane. 2004. Not Animal, Not Not-Animal: Hunting, Imitation and Empathetic Knowledge among the Siberian Yukaghirs. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10(3): 629-652.

Živaljević, Ivana. u pripremi. „Lend me your eyes, your ears, your perspective: the usage of animal body parts in human burials in the Mesolithic-Neolithic Danube Gorges.” In Animal Agency, eds. Kristin Armstrong Oma and Gala Argent.




How to Cite

Živaljević, Ivana. 2013. “Animals Between Nature and Culture: The Story of Archaeozoology”. Etnoantropološki Problemi Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 8 (4):1137-64.



Other Humanities and Social Sciences