, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 275-286
Date: 27 Mar 2013

A canine surrogacy approach to human paleodietary bone chemistry: past development and future directions

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When archaeological human remains are absent or otherwise unavailable for bone chemistry-based paleodietary reconstructions, dog remains may provide an appropriate surrogate material for approximating ancient human diet. This “canine surrogacy approach” (CSA) has developed over the past thirty years and is becoming more common in archaeological science literature. A dearth of continued innovation in CSA applications as well as recent criticisms of its feasibility may reflect the absence of a cohesive overview of the approach’s development, its underlying analogical nature, as well as variation and inconsistency in the ways it has been applied. Considering the CSA’s invaluable potential to partially circumvent the destructive analysis of human remains, thereby addressing the increasingly recognized concerns of indigenous groups, such considerations would be timely and germane. Recent research has characterized the role of analogy in CSA applications and devised a framework for making CSA interpretations (Guiry J Archaeol Method Theory 19(3):351–376, 2012a, b). In contrast to, and complementing that work, this paper provides an outline of the CSA’s inception and evolution with particular emphasis on identifying the impetuses for, and trends in, its development. In addition to clarifying the CSA’s origin as well as where and why it is applied today, this review provides an opportunity to identify future directions for productive methodological innovation.