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Book: The Sheep People

Chapter: The Sheep People: Towards an Archaeology of Ontology

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.26516


Chapter 6 brings together the archaeological evidence, the ethological insights into sheep and sheepdogs and suggests that in Early Bronze Age Rogaland, an intensification of sheep-keeping changed the way of building, the landscape, and the social dynamics of the household. The economic reason underlying the increase in sheep-keeping was probably the development of wool textile production. Humans and sheep became household members, and their proximity led to a new, shared flock: the sheep people. A discussion of how archaeologists use economic models to understand the past leads to a critique of basic economic interpretations, and the shareholder versus the stakeholder model. The stakeholder model is suggested as a more valid interpretation of Bronze Age economy, as it enables working with other species as agents within the household. Within a stakeholder model, recognising the agency of other species makes economic sense. In the closing, reflections on shared lives in the Bronze Age highlights that relationships were probably forged by way of cooperation.

Chapter Contributors

  • Kristin Armstrong Oma ( - kaoma) 'University of Stavanger'