The Emergence of Zooarchaeology

  • Diane Gifford-Gonzalez


This chapter reviews the emergence of zooarchaeology in Europe and the Americas, with some discussion of other regions. Though vertebrate evidence played a pivotal role in establishing human antiquity and prompted the emergence of prehistoric archaeology in the 1860s, for a century thereafter, animal specimens from archaeological excavations were given to specialists in other disciplines. In the 1950s and 1960s, zoologists, paleontologists, and veterinary specialists interested in human-animal relations began training young archaeologists in animal identification, taxonomy, and analytic methods. Archaeofaunal analysis became central in elucidating early hominin behavior, the origins of farming, and emergence of complex societies. In the 1960s, archaeozoologists and zooarchaeologists intensified international communication on research topics and methods of common interest, and the International Council on Archaeozoology (ICAZ) had its first conferences. Over the 1970s and 1980s, a few pivotal conferences and workshops, as well as quadrennial ICAZ meetings, enhanced communication on methods as the numbers of zooarchaeologists rapidly grew. Notwithstanding the continuance of national archaeological traditions, twenty-first century zooarchaeological researchers are part of a global research community with converging methodological interests.


History North America South America Europe Great Britain Japan China 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane Gifford-Gonzalez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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