The subject of archaeozoology or zooarchaeology is concerned with past relationships between humans and animals. The main focus lies on the analysis of animal remains from archaeological excavations. Further research sources are written and pictographic evidence, ethnographic data and biomolecular methods. The range of questions asked touches the fields of zoology, ecology, biology, environmental and social sciences, economy, forensic science and archaeology.
Animal bones are recovered from archaeological excavations usually in large amounts, but other animal remains like horn, leather, hair, wool, eggshell, fish scales, molluscs or even insects can also become preserved under certain circumstances. The analysis of these remains allows statements about
- species representation, size, habitus, age at death, sex,
- pathologies and anatomical variations
- the quality of the relationship and the way of animal use
- the economic and social value of species
- ecologic, climatic and environmental developments
- zoogeographical implications
- past economic status
- origins of animal domestication
- the use of animals as raw material
- production methods and techniques
Apart from preservation conditions archaeological recovering techniques are crucial for the research results. Small animal remains can only be retrieved by high resolution sieving techniques.