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Animal Iconography in the Archaeological Record

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Animals pervade our lives, both today and in the past. From the smallest bug through pets and agricultural animals to elephants and blue whales, the animals themselves, animal-derived products and representations of animals can be found everywhere in our daily lives. This book focuses on the representations of animals in the past: How were animals represented in iconography, and how is the craftsperson interpreting animals within his or her own cultural context? What do the representations tell us about the role and function of both animals and the representations themselves?

A series of papers explore these questions through images of animals. This is, for example, done by using technologies like 3D models to emphasize the dimensionality of objects, or through theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches that examine the intersection of the human and the animal. The papers challenge the notion of animals purely as objects, instead focusing on the many ways in which humans and animals interact. The importance of animals in all aspects of our lives means that the study of human-animal relations is an extremely relevant one both in the past and today. The papers take us on a journey through time and space, demonstrating exactly this relevance. Starting in the Neolithic and ending in the Medieval period, from the Mediterranean and Northern Europe through Siberia and the Baltic to the other side of the world in Australia, we have the privilege of encountering lions, horses, dogs, monkeys, birds, kangaroos and octopuses, among many other wonderful creatures.

The book is an important and exciting contribution to the study of human-animal relations. It should be of interest to anyone working on this topic and the interpretation of images - both modern and ancient.

Published: Nov 8, 2021

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Chapter 1
Introduction: The Third Dimension and Animal Iconography in Archaeology Laerke Recht, Katarzyna Zeman-Wisniewska
Chapter 2
Zoomorphic Terracotta Figurines of the Halaf Culture and New Evidence of Secondary Product Exploitation in 6th Millennium BC Northern Mesopotamia Nicola Scheyhing
Chapter 3
Neolithic Vessels with Animal Characteristics: Modifications of Material as Negotiations of Clay Bodyscapes Evangelia Voulgari
Chapter 4
The Minoan Monkey: Ties between the Aegean and Indus River Valley via Mesopotamia Marie Nicole Pareja
Chapter 5
How Many Tentacles? Octo-pus and X-pus in the Aegean Bronze Age: A New Archaeozoological Approach Lucia Alberti, Giambattista Bello
Chapter 6
Bird-shaped Vessels of Bronze Age Cyprus as Three-dimensional Objects Katarzyna Zeman-Wisniewska
Chapter 7
‘Flying Gallop’ Iconography and its Representation in the Burial Rites of the Eurasian Bronze Age Igor Chechuchkov, Emma Usmanova, Olga Gumirova
Chapter 8
The Role of the Horse in Ancient Egypt: In Society and Imagery Lonneke Delpeut
Chapter 9
Horns as Symbols in Bronze Age Scandinavian Southern Tradition Rock Art Joanna M. Lawrence
Chapter 10
Lions and Other Animal Representations Found in Funerary Contexts in Archaic Macedonia Nathalie del Socorro
Chapter 11
Buckle up! A Comparison of Ornamental Design on Pazyryk Riding Gear of the Sites Pazyryk-1, Berel’11 and Ak-Alakha-3 with Regard to Supra-regional Exchange during the 3rd Century BC Anna-Elisa Stümpel
Chapter 12
Dogs of Roman Britain: Secular, Sacred or Consumed? Branka Franicevic
Chapter 13
Dragons, Griffins and Leucrottas: Supernatural Creatures in the Eastern Baltic Tõnno Jonuks
End Matter
Index Laerke Recht, Katarzyna Zeman-Wisniewska


A young and fresh attempt to tackle a subject which has long stood in the shadow of the study and interpretation of anthropomorphic imagery.
Professor Louis Nebelsick, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw