Current Research Postgraduates
Miss Angela Perri
(email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Global Foraging Adaptations to Holocene Climatic Optimum Environments: The Significance of Intentional Dog Burials as Evidence of Hunting Strategies.
Current research suggests the domestication of dogs occurred ~15,000 years ago with the location and number of individual domestication events debated. Although domestication appears to have occurred in the late Upper Paleolithic, the first instances of intentional, individual dog burials are not seen until around 9,000 BP in the early Holocene. It is also during this time that the onset of a climatic warming event triggered dramatic environmental change throughout the northern temperate zone, including the establishment and spreading of temperate deciduous forests. Along with this new environment came new prey species and with the new prey species important hunting adaptations by humans.
My thesis explores the idea that forager groups living in these new forested environments took advantage of dogs’ natural tendency to track and chase-hunt the prey (primarily deer and boar) inhabiting these environments and thus became valued members of the group with some earning human-like burials upon their death. My preliminary research reveals three geographic areas, the midsouthern U.S., northern Europe and eastern Japan, that exhibit large, contemporaneous clusters of individual, intentional dog burials. These three areas also underwent similar post-glacial shifts to temperate deciduous forests and generally include deer and/or boar remains as the primary terrestrial subsistence species within early Holocene archaeological sites. These areas also present the first global evidence, nearly simultaneously, for intentional dog burials, which propose an elevated status or position within the group. This correlation between deciduous forest development and the burial of dogs suggests a causal link in the use of domesticated dogs in the hunting adaptations of early Holocene foragers in these areas. My preliminary research shows a pattern in which individual dog burials began during the early Holocene in each area and then increased in both sites and burial numbers through the mid-to-late Archaic/Mesolithic/Jomon, with the height of burials in all three areas appearing to fall in the late-final Archaic/Mesolithic/Jomon. Perhaps most suggestive of the relationship between environment, hunting, and primary dog burials is evidence of these burials ceasing with the advent of agricultural subsistence in each area, an event which happened at a different time in each location.
The identification of individual, intentional dog burials from early Holocene archaeological sites across the world is a process of detailed, systematic literature review. In order to base my burial analysis on the primary accounts of the actual dog remains in-situ I am principally using, when available, original site reports and faunal analyses from each site. This detailed analysis of each individual burial has revealed, interestingly, a complex variety of dog burial types across the prehistoric record. The creation of a dog burial typology (in preparation for publication) has allowed me to distinguish those dog burials which are intentional and individual (or ‘primary’) as opposed to discarded carcasses or coburials with humans. The intended research is being completed by examining this dog mortuary data as well as faunal assemblage records, paleobotanic records, and ethnozooarchaeological accounts. The identified geographic areas that show high archaeological incidences of early Holocene dog burials are being studied by documenting zooarchaeological changes in prey species types and number between the late Pleistocene and early Holocene to establish a clear chronology of subsistence species reliance over time. Additionally, local pollen data is being compared from the late-glacial Upper Pleistocene and early Holocene records in each area to examine the rate, intensity, and nature of environmental change during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Using previous ethnographic research, as well as my own ethnozooarchaeological work, I am exploring recent use of hunting dogs in this environment in an effort to interpret possible correlations between human hunters, environments, prey and hunting dogs in the past. This research will integrate faunal, pollen, mortuary and ethnographic records in order to characterize the dynamic relationships between foraging groups, their environments, and their use of dogs in early Holocene hunting adaptations.
Is supervised by
- Bioarchaeology Research Group