Books  General Natural History  Archaeology 

Beastly Questions: Animal Answers to Archaeological Issues

By: Naomi Sykes(Author)

221 pages, 34 b/w photos and b/w illustrations

Bloomsbury Academic (Bloomsbury imprint)

Paperback | Sep 2015 | #227649 | ISBN-13: 9781474260695
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £22.99 $30/€26 approx
Hardback | Aug 2014 | #227648 | ISBN-13: 9781472506757
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £69.99 $91/€78 approx

About this book

Zooarchaeology, or the study of ancient animals, is a frequently side-lined subject in archaeology. This is bizarre given that the archaeological record is composed largely of debris from human–animal relationships (be they in the form of animal bones, individual artifacts or entire landscapes) and that many disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, and geography, recognise human–animal interactions as a key source of information for understanding cultural ideology.

By integrating knowledge from archaeological remains with evidence from texts, iconography, social anthropology and cultural geography, Beastly QuestionsAnimal Answers to Archaeological Issues seeks to encourage archaeological students, researchers and those working in the commercial sector to offer more engaging interpretations of the evidence at their disposal. Going beyond the simple confines of 'what people ate', this accessible but in-depth study covers a variety of high-profile topics in European archaeology and provides novel interpretations of mainstream archaeological questions. This includes cultural responses to wild animals, the domestication of animals and its implications on human daily practice, experience and ideology, the transportation of species and the value of incorporating animals into landscape research, the importance of the study of foodways for understanding past societies and how animal studies can help us to comprehend issues of human identity and ideology: past, present and future.

"Zooarchaeologists working in all places and periods will find here much inspiration [...] [Sykes writes] engagingly, without jargon, and yet with sufficient detail and precision for specialists."

"In Beastly Questions, Naomi Sykes takes a typically sideways, very personal, look at the study of animal remains from archaeological deposits, offering a new approach centred upon understanding the full, complex relations between people and the animals around them. Students of archaeology and anthropology will appreciate this as a source of information and ideas, academics will welcome a gust of fresh air through a dusty subject, and the general reader will enjoy a lively, often irreverent, book on a fascinating topic.
– Terry O'Connor, Professor of Archaeological Science, Department of Archaeology, University of York, UK,

"Naomi Sykes begins Beastly Questions thus, 'Zooarchaeology has begun to bore me.' That is not really true. What troubles her greatly is the sterility of a certain kind of zoöarchaeology which identifies, measures, orders and quantifies animal remains but fails to interrogate them as traces of the co-constituted social and cultural relations between humans and other animals in the past. Beastly Questions is a feisty, imaginative, academically thorough and extremely readable exploration of the potentials and possibilities of a new social zooarchaeology. From mere bones Sykes fleshes out the animals and reconnects them to human worlds. Bored? Not at all! This is a powerful reanimation."
– Garry Marvin, Professor of Human-Animal Studies, University of Roehampton, UK

"This volume provides an important and provocative contribution to the zooarchaeological literature. Naomi Sykes demonstrates that zooarchaeology can do much more than simply provide appendices to archaeological site reports. She shows that faunal remains can answer a range of interesting questions about human-animal relationships in the past."
– Pam J. Crabtree, Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University, USA

"Anybody who cares for animals will enjoy this book just as much as specialists involved in the study of the past. It will be a great companion volume for scholars and students in archaeology and history as well as those who would like to understand why we need animals around us not only for meat and milk, but also for company and as metaphors for life and living even in the most modernized urban society. The 770 scholarly works listed in the book's reference list lend weight to the author's educated arguments on these exciting questions."
– László Bartosiewicz, Professor of Archaeozoology, Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary



Chapter 1: Animals and People: Mirrors and Windows
Chapter 2: Animal 'Revolutions'
Chapter 3: Wild Animals and Human Societies
Chapter 4: Animal Diaspora and Culture Change
Chapter 5: Ideas of Landscape
Chapter 6: The Chapter about Ritual
Chapter 7: Friends, Confidants and Lovers
Chapter 8: Meat


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Naomi Sykes is Senior Lecturer in Zooarchaeology at the Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham, UK.

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