Ethnoarchaeology as a Means of Improving Integration: An Ethnozooarchaeological Study from Cyprus and Its Contribution to the Integration of Zooarchaeology with Archaeobotany and Other Lines of Archaeological Evidence

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


Ethnoarchaeology in Europe has been relatively neglected over the last few decades. This trend has been partly justified by the fact that modernisation in the twentieth century has swept away any remaining traditional practices, especially those pertinent to animal and plant exploitation. This reality not only renders pressing the need to record any surviving traditional practices but, even more importantly, raises the question whether the study of partly, or even significantly, altered practices is useful to archaeological method and interpretation. Through an ethnozooarchaeological study of sheep and goat husbandry in Cyprus, this study highlights the benefits of geographically relevant information and evaluates them as methodological and interpretational tools for archaeology. Ethnoarchaeological studies also have significant potential towards more efficient integration of different archaeological subdisciplines due to the fact that the various components of the agricultural systems studied are visibly interrelated and de facto integrated. The presented study focused on zooarchaeological issues, but it inevitably produced a wealth of information pertinent to plants in sheep/goat diet; seasonal patterns in the interaction between herds; cultivated, wild and fallow vegetation; overall use of the landscape; transactions between herders; and other aspects that can provide useful analogies for the interpretation of relevant archaeological data.


Ethnoarchaeology Zooarchaeology Archaeobotany Analogy Cyprus Sheep and goat Agricultural practices 



This study was made possible by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IEF) for the project ‘Sheep and Goat Management in Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age: An Archaeozoological, Isotopic and Ethnographic Approach’, number 301120. Many thanks are due to the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, UMR 7209 ‘Archéozoologie et archéobotanique’ of the CNRS for hosting this project, to Jean-Denis Vigne for supervising it and to Marie Balasse for participating. I am indebted to the Cypriot herders who gladly shared their valuable experiences of a world that is now fading away and also to Paul Halstead and Valasia Isaakidou for the advice on my questionnaires and sharing relevant information.


  1. Albarella, U., & Trentacoste, A. (2011). Ethnozooarchaeology: The present and past of human-animal relationships. Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books.Google Scholar
  2. Ascher, R. (1961). Analogy in archaeological interpretation. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 17, 317–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balasse, M., & Ambrose, S. H. (2005). Distinguishing sheep and goats using dental morphology and stable carbon isotopes in C4 grassland environments. Journal of Archaeological Science, 32, 691–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bevan, W. (1919). Notes on agriculture in Cyprus and its products. London: Watson and Vinery.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Binford, L. R. (1967). Smudge pits and hide smoking: The use of analogy in archaeological reasoning. American Antiquity, 32, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cappers, R. (2002). Farming in the desert: Implications of recent practices for archaeobotanical interpretations. In W. Wendrich & G. van der Kooij (Eds.), Moving matters: Ethnoarchaeology in the near east (proceedings of the international seminar held at Cairo 7–10 December 1998) (pp. 45–62). Leiden/Cairo: Research School of Asian, African, and Amerindian Studies, Universiteit Leiden/Nederlands-Vlaams Instituut.Google Scholar
  7. Chang, C., & Toutellotte, P. A. (1993). Ethnoarchaeological survey of pastoral transhumance sites in the Grevena Region, Greece. Journal of Field Archaeology, 20, 249–264.Google Scholar
  8. Christodoulou, D. (1959). The evolution of the rural land use pattern in Cyprus. London: Geographical Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Colledge, S. (2003). The charred plant remains in three of the pits. In E. Peltenburg (Ed), The colonisation and settlement of Cyprus. Investigations at Kissonerga-Mylouthkia 1976–1996 (pp. 239–245). Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology LXX: 4. Sävedalen: Paul Åströms förlag.Google Scholar
  10. David, N. (1992). Integrating ethnoarchaeology: A subtle realist perspective. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 11(4), 291–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deniz, E., & Payne, S. (1979). Eruption and wear in the mandibular dentition of Turkish Angora goats in relation to ageing sheep/goat mandibles from archaeological sites. Archaeozoology, 1, 153–163.Google Scholar
  12. Digard, J. -P. (1981). Techniques des nomads Baxtyâri. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press/Paris: Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme.Google Scholar
  13. Elliott, S., Bendrey, R., Whitlam, J., Rauf Aziz, K., & Evans, J. (2015). Preliminary ethnoarchaeological research on modern animal husbandry in Bestansur, Iraqi Kurdistan: Integrating animal, plant and environmental data. Environmental Archaeology, 20(3), 283–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gould, R. A., & Watson, P. J. (1982). A dialogue on the meaning and use of analogy in ethnoarchaeological reasoning. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 1, 355–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hadjikoumis, A. (2017). Age-at-death in traditional Cypriot sheep and goat husbandry: Implications for zooarchaeology. In D. Serjeantson, P. Rowley-Conwy, & P. Halstead (Eds.), Economic Zooarchaeology: Studies in hunting, herding and early agriculture(pp.126–134). Oxford: Oxbow.Google Scholar
  16. Halstead, P. (1987). Traditional and ancient rural economy in Mediterranean Europe: Plus ça change? The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 107, 77–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Halstead, P. (1990). Waste not, want not: Traditional responses to crop failure in Greece. Rural History, 1, 147–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hadjikoumis A., Vigne J-D., Simmons A., Guilaine J., Fiorillo D. & Balasse M. (submitted). Autumn/winter births in traditional and Pre-Pottery Neolithic caprine husbandries in Cyprus: Evidence from ethnography and stable isotopes. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.Google Scholar
  19. Halstead, P. (1998). Mortality models and milking: Problems of uniformitarianism, optimality and equifinality reconsidered. Anthropozoologica, 27, 3–20.Google Scholar
  20. Halstead, P. (2012). Feast, food and fodder in Neolithic-Bronze age Greece: Commensality and the construction of value. In: Pollock, S., (Ed.), Between feasts and daily meals. Towards an archaeology of commensal spaces (eTopoi, Journal for Ancient Studies, Special Vol. 2, pp. 21–51). Berlin: Exzellenzcluster 264 Topoi.Google Scholar
  21. Halstead, P. (2014). Two oxen ahead: Pre-mechanized farming in the Mediterranean. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Halstead, P., & Isaakidou, V. (2011). A pig fed by hand is worth two in the bush: Ethnoarchaeology of pig husbandry in Greece and its archaeological implications. In U. Albarella & A. Trentacoste (Eds.), Ethnozooarchaeology: The present and past of human-animal relationships. Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books.Google Scholar
  23. Hand, R., Hadjikyriakou, G. N., & Christodoulou, C. S., (Eds.). (2011) (continuously updated). Flora of Cyprus – a dynamic checklist. Published at Accessed 30 Mar 2016.
  24. Hodder, I. (1982). The present past: An introduction to anthropology for archaeologists. London: Batsford.Google Scholar
  25. Jones, G. (1992). Ancient and modern cultivation of Lathyrus ochrus (L.) DC in the Greek islands. Annual of the British School at Athens, 87, 211–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones, G. (1996 for 1995). An ethnoarchaeological investigation of the effects of cereal grain sieving. Circaea, 12(2), 177–182.Google Scholar
  27. Lucas, L., Colledge, S., Simmons, A., & Fuller, D. Q. (2012). Crop introduction and accelerated island evolution: Archaeobotanical evidence from Ais Yiorkis and Pre-Pottery Neolithic Cyprus. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 21, 117–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Miller, N. (1984). Some plant remains from Khirokitia, Cyprus: 1977 and 1978 excavations. In A. LeBrun (Ed.), Fouilles récentes à Khirokitia (Chypre) 1977–1981 (Vol. 1, pp. 183–188). Paris: Editions Recherches sur les civilisations.Google Scholar
  29. Murray, M. A. (2003). Archaeobotanical remains from the Aceramic Neolithic wells (ca. 9000 BP). In E. Peltenburg (ed.), The colonisation and settlement of Cyprus. Investigations at Kissonerga-Mylouthkia 1976–1996. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology LXX:4, (59–72). Sävedalen: Paul Åströms förlag.Google Scholar
  30. Nandris, J. G. (1985). The Stina and the Katun: Foundations of a research design in European highland zone ethnoarchaeology. World Archaeology, 17, 256–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Orr, C. W. J. (1918). Cyprus under British Rule. London: Robert Scott.Google Scholar
  32. Santillo Frizell, B. (2004). Curing the flock. The use of healing waters in roman pastoral economy. In B. Santillo Frizell (Ed.), PECUS. Man and animal in antiquity. Proceedings of the conference at the Swedish Institute in Rome, September 9–12, 2002 (pp. 80–93). Rome: The Swedish Institute in Rome.Google Scholar
  33. Schulting, R. (2014). Hunter-gatherer diet, subsistence and foodways. In V. Cummings, P. Jordan, & M. Zvelebil (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the archaeology and anthropology of hunter-gatherers (pp. 1266–1287). Oxford University Press: Oxford.Google Scholar
  34. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (1979). Map of the world distribution of arid regions: Map at scale 1:25,000,000 with explanatory note. MAB Technical Notes 7. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  35. Vaiglova, P., Bogaard, A., Collins, M., Cavanagh, W., Mee, C., Renard, J., Lamb, A., Gardeisen, A., & Fraser, R. (2014). An integrated stable isotope study of plants and animals from Kouphovouno, southern Greece: A new look at Neolithic farming. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42, 201–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vaihinger, H. (1924). The philosophy of ‘as if’. A system of the theoretical, practical and religious fictions of mankind. New York: Harcout, Brace & Co.Google Scholar
  37. Vigne, J.-D., Briois, F., Zazzo, A., Willcox, G., Cucchi, T., Thiébault, S., Carrère, I., Franel, Y., Touquet, R., Martin, C., Moreau, C., Comby, C., & Guilaine, J. (2012). First wave of cultivators spread to Cyprus at least 10,600 y ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 109, 8445–8449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wiley, A. (1985). The reaction against analogy. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, 8, 63–111.Google Scholar
  39. Willcox, G. (2000). Présence des céréales dans le Néolithique pré-céramique de Shillourokambos à Chypre: résultats de la campagne 1999. Paléorient, 26, 129–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR 7209, Archéozoologie et Archéobotanique, CNRS, Muséum National d’ Histoire NaturalleParisFrance

Personalised recommendations