Zooarchaeology refers to the study of animal remains excavated from archaeological sites. The goal of zooarchaeology is to understand the relationship between humans and their environment(s), especially between humans and other animal populations. Zooarchaeology is characterized by its broad, interdisciplinary character, which makes it difficult to write a review that adequately covers all aspects of the field. This diversity can be traced to the application of many physical, biological, ecological, and anthropological concepts and methods to the study of animal remains throughout the world by scholars with a wide range of theoretical interests and training.
ZOOARCHAEOLOGY, AN INTERDISCIPLINARY FIELD
Although animal remains, especially fossils, have intrigued the human mind for centuries, the first critical examinations of these remains were not conducted until the 1700s. Since then, zooarchaeologists have relied on combinations of the natural and social sciences, history, and the humanities for concepts, methods, and explanations. By tradition, many studies focus on zoogeographical relationships, environmental evolution, and the impact of humans on the landscape from the perspective of animals. Many zooarchaeologists pursue anthropological interests in nutrition, resource use, economies, residential patterns, ritual, social identity, and other aspects of human life involving animals or parts of animals. All of these topics are encompassed within modern zooarchaeology.
Biological principles and topics are fundamental to zooarchaeology. Biological research includes exploration of extinctions and changes in zoogeographical distributions, morphological characteristics, population structure, the history of domestication, paleoenvironmental conditions, and ecological relationships of extant fauna using subfossil materials to provide historical perspective.