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The Dog in Roman Peasant Life

By Kyle deSandes-Moyer

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Abstract

Dogs have been a part of civilization for thousands of years and have maintained one of the closest animal relationships with humans that exist today. The following research seeks to understand this connection during antiquity. This study answers the question of what roles the dog filled during antiquity and uses a case study focused on Roman peasant life. In order to answer the question of what role dogs had in antiquity, this study makes use of several different types of material, including a zooarchaeological assemblage from a Roman site in Tuscany, Italy. This original material comes from work on the Roman Peasant Project (University of Pennsylvania, Università di Grosseto, Cambridge University) which is the first project aimed at understanding the experience of the peasantry in the Roman period. One of these sites produced the dog remains which were studied through zooarchaeological analysis to better understand the relationship that existed between the peasant occupants and the dogs. In order to fully understand the context these dogs existed in, research was conducted regarding other archaeological evidence of dogs in antiquity. Finally, the research made use of ancient authors and literature surrounding dogs in order to gain an understanding of how the dogs from the peasant site fit into the larger Greek and Roman worlds. In answering the research questions, the following work provides a general background on the domestication of the dog and some of its roles in antiquity including consumption, iconography, status, and religious function. This study is based on literary and archaeological evidence and seeks to present a comprehensive picture of the different roles of dogs in antiquity. The research provides the framework used to place the zooarchaeological case study in context and understand its results. The case study section presents data obtained from measurement techniques, age analysis, and other observations of the dog remains to understand the role of 2 animals at the particular site. This raw data is then used to develop several hypotheses that demonstrate different roles of dogs in antiquity. The following research is a comprehensive presentation of the role of the dog in antiquity and makes use of a specific case study that contributes original research to the existing literature. The study is unique because it focuses on aspects of classical archaeology that are often excluded: zooarchaeology and peasant life. The most significant take away of the research is its ability to understand the details of undetectable everyday life of a peasant community. Furthermore, it highlights the persistently important relationship that has existed between humans and dogs for thousands of years.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2013
Pages 112
Department Department of Anthropology
URL https://repository.upenn.edu/anthro_seniortheses/148/
Language English
University University of Pennsylvania
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Tags
  1. Animal remains
  2. Animal roles
  3. Dogs
  4. Human-animal relationships
  5. Italy
  6. open access
  7. Rome
  8. Zooarchaeology
Badges
  1. open access