Canine Economies of the Ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean
Archaeological assemblages, texts, and iconography indicate a multifaceted, yet often ignored, canine economy in the ancient eastern Mediterranean and Near East. This economy included not only dogs’ celebrated roles as hunting aids, guards, village scavengers, and companions, but also the regular processing, use, and consumption of dogs for foods, hides, and medicinal/ritual purposes. Drawing on ethnohistorical information and zooarchaeological data from three Chalcolithic/Bronze Age sites—Tell Surezha (Iraq), Mycenae (Greece), and Acemhöyük (Turkey)—we emphasize evidence for the processing of dog carcasses, which reflect a range of post-mortem treatments of dog bodies. We suggest the widespread use of primary products from dogs, features of an ancient canine economy that are rarely reported on in depth and often explained away as aberrations by modern scholars of the region. We speculate that this neglect stems in part from analysts’ taboos on cynophagy (unconsciously) influencing archaeological reconstructions of dog use in the past.
Journal of Field Archaeology
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Max Price, Jacqueline Meier & Benjamin Arbuckle (2021) Canine Economies of the Ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean, Journal of Field Archaeology, 46:2, 81-92, DOI: 10.1080/00934690.2020.1848322