Sample Essay Paper on Archaeozoology


Article 1

            The article “A Hippopotamus Tooth In A Philistine Temple: Symbolic Artifact Or Sacrificial Offering?” by Edward F. Maher explores the possibilities of a Hippopotamus tooth that was found at Philistine Ekron. At the temple in the site, there are many remains of animals that are assumed to have been offered as sacrifices. Most of these animals are domesticated animals such as sheep, goats and cattle. The question that lingers is whether the Hippo to which the tooth belonged was sacrificed at the altar as the other animals, or where is was a part of an artifact in the temple. Additionally, there is overwhelming evidence that the hippopotamus tooth was a part of a larger statuette. Despite that assumption, the remains of the statuette and the tooth do not seem to fit. Background information regarding the animals that were considered fit for sacrifice indicates that the person offering it must have had some attachment to the animal. Therefore, domestic animals were valued more for sacrifice compared to the wild ones. This disqualifies the hippo as a sacrifice animal leading to the conclusion that this tooth was a part of an artifact.

Article 2

            The second article analyzed is Richard H. Meadow’s “BA Guide to Artifacts: The Study of Faunal Remains in Archeological Sites.” In this article, meadow states that the presence of faunal remains at most archeological sites was ignored in the past by archeologists, as they felt that it held no significance in their work. This is because most archeologists are concerned with the art and culture of the prehistoric civilizations. The use of comparative osteology, the study of bone, can help a lot in giving information to the researchers regarding the food that the past people used to consume and also in telling about their economic activities such as hunting and trade. This study of bones has contributed to increased knowledge regarding the age and sex of the animals that were used for food and religious ceremonies as sacrifices.

Article 3

            This article is called “Zooarchaeology: Past, Present and Future,” by Kenneth D. Thomas. The author states that the new age archaeology prompted the development of zooarchaeology. Before that, the broken animal bones littering the archeological sites were not considered as having any significance. When the field was introduced, it became imperative that zoo archeologists be a part of every team that is excavating a site. The specialists in zooarchaeology have become respected members of the archaeology field. Zooarchaeology has been a success story regarding growth and increase in expertise in the field. However, concerns are emerging because the number of specialists in the field is outstripping the demand at the various archeological sites.  

Article 4

            The article called “The noble beast: Status and Differential Access To Animals In The Maya World” by Kitty F. Emery is insistent that zooarchaeology has effectively used the study of bones to determine the animals that were owned by the Mayas in various archaeological sites. The access to various species of animals either as pets or for consumption among the Maya was determined by the social class of the family. The more prominent families were likely to own exotic animals such as jaguars, margays and ocelots. Finding the bone remains of such animals at a site is a sign that the family that used to occupy that site was from a higher social class.