The Paleoanthropology and Archaeology of Big-Game Hunting

Protein, Fat, or Politics?

  • John D. Speth

Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxiii
  2. John D. Speth
    Pages 1-3
  3. John D. Speth
    Pages 45-85
  4. John D. Speth
    Pages 87-107
  5. John D. Speth
    Pages 109-112
  6. John D. Speth
    Pages 113-117
  7. John D. Speth
    Pages 119-127
  8. John D. Speth
    Pages 129-132
  9. John D. Speth
    Pages 133-134
  10. John D. Speth
    Pages 135-147
  11. John D. Speth
    Pages 149-161
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 163-233

About this book


Since its inception, paleoanthropology has been closely wedded to the idea that big-game hunting by our hominin ancestors arose, first and foremost, as a means for acquiring energy and vital nutrients. This assumption has rarely been questioned, and seems intuitively obvious—meat is a nutrient-rich food with the ideal array of amino acids, and big animals provide meat in large, convenient packages. Through new research, the author of this volume provides a strong argument that the primary goals of big-game hunting were actually social and political—increasing hunter’s prestige and standing—and that the nutritional component was just an added bonus. Through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary research approach, the author examines the historical and current perceptions of protein as an important nutrient source, the biological impact of a high-protein diet and the evidence of this in the archaeological record, and provides a compelling reexamination of this long-held conclusion. This volume will be of interest to researchers in Archaeology, Evolutionary Biology, and Paleoanthropology, particularly those studying diet and nutrition.


Bioarchaeology Diet Hunter-Gatherers Nutrition amines amino acids evolution evolutionary biology paleoanthropology

Authors and affiliations

  • John D. Speth
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of AnthropologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Bibliographic information