Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SAA Symposium on Dogs

Back in January I posted on a symposium at the upcoming Society for American Archaeology meetings on the archaeology of the human/dog relationship. I promised to put a link up to the paper abstracts when they were released and you can find them here at the SAA website. Browse to your heart's delight.

Here is the abstract for the symposium as a whole:

Although archaeological research continues to contribute
to the understanding about the origins of the domestic
dog, additional research provides insight into the
relationships between humans and dogs following
domestication. The papers in this session will primarily
address the role of dogs in hunting,
subsistence/consumption, ritualistic and artistic contexts
as well as their origins and geographic diffusion. Drawing
on diverse methodologies and theoretical approaches,
this session incorporates evidence from burials, middens,
faunal assemblages, ethnoarchaeology, and genetics to
situate the role of dogs in a diachronic socio-ecological

A "diachronic socio-ecological context" - is that thick enough social-science jargon for you? Here's a couple of papers I thought sounded interesting:

Larson, Greger (Durham University)
A combined genetic and archaeological
perspective on dog domestication
The vast morphological variability between dog breeds
led Darwin to conclude that more than one canid
ancestor must have been involved. Ironically, the single
undisputed fact regarding dog domestication is that the
grey wolf is the sole ancestor of domestic dogs. The
additional big questions including where, when and how
many times the process took place remain unanswered,
in large part because the modern ubiquity of dogs has
precluded an understanding of their origins. This paper
will explore what is known and what can be known about
dog domestication using the latest archaeological finds
and genetic studies.

Perri, Angela (Durham University)
Early Holocene Dog Burials and Pleistocene-
Holocene Climate Change
Despite much work on the Pleistocene-Holocene
transition, little is known about how human foragers
adapted their hunting strategies to adjust to new
environments and prey species. This paper explores the
potential role of early Holocene dogs as valuable hunting
tools to foragers adjusting to new forested environments.
Preliminary findings suggest significant parallel
developments, specifically the burial of dogs,
characterize hunter-gatherer adaptations from the
temperate forests of North America, Northern Europe
and Japan. It is suggested that these intentional dog
burials are an indication of the importance of dogs in a
temperate forest hunting strategy, employed
simultaneously by hunter-gatherer groups around the

And here's a Russian one for Steve:

Bazaliiskii, Vladimir (Irkutsk State University),
Robert Losey (University of Alberta), Mietje
Germonpre (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural
Sciences), Mikhail Sablin (Zoological Institute of the
Russian Academy of Sciences) and Sandra Garvie-
Lok (University of Alberta)
New Data on and Interpretation of Dog Burials in
Siberia’s Cis-Baikal
The Lake Baikal region of Eastern Siberia is well known
for its large hunter-gatherer cemeteries, many of which
have been intensively studied through the Baikal
Archaeological Project. This same area also has
produced several elaborate dog burials, almost always
within human cemeteries. This paper examines these
practices through a suite of new data, including that from
osteological analyses, radiocarbon assays, and stable
isotope analyses. These data indicate substantial
variability in dog diets, some being dominated by
terrestrial mammals, others by fish. Further, dogs only
appear to have been buried during time periods during
which human burials also were made.

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