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Putting the Life Back into Livestock in Archaeology

Reid, A; (2020) Putting the Life Back into Livestock in Archaeology. Archaeology International , 22 (1) pp. 114-126. 10.5334/ai-409. Green open access

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Abstract

Archaeology has long congratulated itself on the success it has achieved in exploring the domestication of animals. This work was largely undertaken by examining animal bone remains from archaeological sites, studies that encourage a focus on meat consumption. The emphasis on domestication and on direct exploitation leads to the prioritisation of the earlier occurrences of livestock. Thereafter livestock are not regarded as having been significant to human societies. Such perspectives encourage the idea that livestock lack agency. This paper explores three rich examples, each demonstrating the active role that livestock play in creating complex social relationships, in particular emphasising the importance of living animals. Maasai herding systems show that living animals reveal important information about their owners. In nineteenth century London, livestock, for transport as well as consumption, permeated all aspects of life within the city. Finally, the colonisation of Australia was hugely dependent on livestock and they continue to have a great impact on the physical environment and on human social relationships. Collectively, these examples indicate that livestock remain agents into the present day. Archaeology’s inability to consider such dynamics is a failing that needs to be rectified and some suggestions are provided on how this might be achieved.

Type: Article
Title: Putting the Life Back into Livestock in Archaeology
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5334/ai-409
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.5334/ai-409
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108355
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