Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 275–286 | Cite as

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

  • Eric J. GuiryEmail author
Original Paper


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.


Dogs Paleodiet Bone chemistry Stable isotope Human proxy 



This work has been developed from the author’s M.A. project which has benefited from a variety of support. Editorial assistance has been provided by Dr. Vaughan Grimes as well as Dr. Oscar Moro, Jill Malivoire, and Robert Anstey. I would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers of their constructive comments. Financial support has been provided by an Endeavour Research Fellowship, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Memorial University, and the Provincial Archaeology Office of Newfoundland and Labrador.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Archaeology ProgramLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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