Zooarchaeology, once largely confined to questions of subsistence and production strategies, has recently devoted much more attention to the social roles of animals in the past. Responding (belatedly) to trends in archaeological theory, on the one hand, and the growth of interdisciplinary animal studies, on the other, zooarchaeologists are now using animal remains to address a broader range of questions that are of interest to archaeologists and others (e.g. Gifford-Gonzalez 2007; Oma 2010; Hill 2013). The three books here exemplify this development, all using zooarchaeological data to explore the varied roles of animals in (mainly) complex societies. Each ranges widely and demonstrates the centrality of animals in the human world, and, therefore, their great potential to illuminate the workings of ancient societies. Each also integrates zooarchaeological data with many other sources of information to create a whole much greater than any of the parts. There is a little overlap in authorship, with a chapter by Sykes in Animals and inequality in the ancient world and contributions by Michael MacKinnon in both edited volumes. These common threads aside, they are quite different books, with different goals and audiences.
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