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Bates College

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Iceland and Greenland: Climate Change and The Arctic


Zooarchaeology, the study of animal remains from archaeological sites, is crucial to the understanding of human interaction with the environment in the North Atlantic region and in Iceland, where the archaeological record is quite rich (Dugmore et al., 2005). Since its inception, zooarchaeology has drawn methods and concepts from both the natural and social sciences, as well as from history and the humanities, to inform an interdisciplinary understanding of the interactions between humans and their environments and the consequences of these interactions for humans and animals (Reitz and Wing, 2008). In this way, zooarchaeology can inform discussions about historical anthropogenic relationships to animals and the environment, and these relationships can be used to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies in this time of rapid environmental change (McGovern et al., 2007). An integrated adaptation approach requires knowledge of contextual history and cultural environmental landscape that only archaeology, and particularly zooarchaeology, can provide (McGovern et al., 2007). This study investigated the relationship between zooarchaeology and climate science through a literature review and work on the osteological reference collection at the Agricultural University of Iceland. The information provided here serves as an introduction to basic zooarchaeological methods, as well as to the importance of comparative osteological reference collections and to the significant role zooarchaeology plays in environmental reconstruction across the North Atlantic.


Animal Studies | Arts and Humanities | Eastern European Studies | Geography | Human Geography | Nature and Society Relations | Place and Environment | Scandinavian Studies


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