SAA2017 | Kelly Wilcox Black: Human-Animal Relationships

Kelly Wilcox Black will discuss how zooarchaeological study enriches our understanding of social and cultural change in pre and Early Historic South India and broadens our overall view of the Indian past.

Kelly Wilcox Black is a PhD student at the University of Chicago. She is a trained archaeologist and faunal analyst and has worked in Egypt, China, and India. Using faunal and dental microwear analysis, her dissertation research examines shifts in animal husbandry practices and the environmental impacts of livestock grazing throughout the South Indian Neolithic, Iron Age, and Early Historic periods. She is also interested in combining methodologically robust analyses of animal economies with recent theoretical scholarship on human-animal relationships and non-human animal agency.

Zooarchaeology and the Study of Human-Animal Relationships in Pre and Early Historic South India

The study of animal remains from archaeological sites has proven to be an invaluable approach to understanding past social, economic, and political practices. Despite the diverse behaviors and sets of relationships animal remains can index, faunal analysis has been an underutilized approach to studying Indian history and prehistory. In this paper, I present new research and zooarchaeological data to demonstrate how human-animal engagements changed throughout the Neolithic (3000-1200 BCE), Iron Age (1200BCE-300BCE), and Early Historic (300BCE-500CE) periods in South India. Using faunal remains from the site Kadebakele (Karnataka), I address how animal rearing, procurement, and consumption figured into the changing economic and agricultural regimes that ultimately laid the foundation for the emergence of urbanism in the region. In addition, I consider how a zooarchaeological study of human-animal relationships, in particular those forged through a history of animal husbandry, allow for us to critically engage with existing narratives concerning social and cultural change in South India.

Image courtesy: Kelly Wilcox Black

Abstracts are also available here: SAA 2017 Session Abstracts (opens new window)

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