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A study in the interrelationships between humans and cattle in the early Bronze Age of southwestern Asia

Miranda, M. (2019) A study in the interrelationships between humans and cattle in the early Bronze Age of southwestern Asia. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

The archaeological investigation of the peoples and cultures of Southwestern Asia has been a subject of study for well over a century, and over time much has been discovered relating to those past individuals and the civilizations they created. With the development of archaeozoology, much information has been uncovered relating to human and animal relationships and the impacts of domesticated species on human dietary and economic practices. Unfortunately, the use of archaeozoological work has not shed much light on the impacts of animals on social practices to determine the utilisation of a particular species by human populations. This is due to the fact that the research focus of most faunal studies is to produce an unbiased documentation of animal material and its relation to food consumption and economic organization and practices. The main purpose of this research is to investigate the interrelationships between humans and cattle both economically and socially to determine how this particular animal affected human behaviour within a specific period in history. By investigating material culture and faunal remains together, we gain a broader image of the animal than merely viewing it as either an artistic representation or as a portion of a faunal assemblage. Even though there have been previous studies relating to human and animal relationships, with a few studies specifically investigating cattle, these studies typically focus on either the material culture representing the animal or the faunal assemblages of a single or multiple archaeological sites. The results of this research indicate that this interrelationship is much more complex than initially thought; it has also been discovered that the iconography of the species, as well as the faunal remains are concentrated within similar areas, which indicates that the animal was more influential within religious and administrative areas. This means that cattle may have been more influential, at least socially, than other domesticated animal species. This research differs from previous work on the subject by investigating both the material culture and faunal assemblages from multiple sites of varying sizes as well as multiple cultural regions within Southwestern Asia during a specific period in history. Through this research, it has been discovered that, cattle were kept and cultivated within various environments and were utilised for both economic and social practices. Moreover, the utilization of cattle in the development of agricultural practices was instrumental in the formation of urban living, which may indicate why cattle were so highly valued. As for the social and iconographic role of cattle, it has been established that the animal became associated with particular deities and elite individuals, which may explain why the iconography associated with cattle was so influential and widespread.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Matthews, R. and Pluskowski, A.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:85869
Date on Title Page:2018

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