Everything is Ritual! - Ep 8

Zooarchaeology and Animals.jpg

Wait (1985) "Ritual" is beliefs and behaviors functioning together.

When identifying ritual, context is everything. In the case of zooarchaeology, the location of the remains alone has much inference on whether ritual activity is involved. A notable example is perhaps the burial of dogs (or parts thereof) at the threshold of a structure, which is seen from the Neolithic down to Iron Age, from Italy to Kazakhstan, through Sweden and Britain. Ultimately, as is the case for the near entirety of populations which have not left a written record behind, we can only infer on intent and make a pretty good educated guess, but we will never know the full story. It is perhaps what is most fascinating about ritual: not the action itself, but the intent behind it.


  • Covesea Caves Project

  • -Cunliffe, B. (1992) Pits, Preconceptions, and Propitation in the British Iron Age. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 11 (1). pp. 69-83.

  • Morris, J. (2008) Associated Bone Groups: One Archaeologist's Rubbish is Another's Ritual Deposition. In "Changing Perspectives on the First Millennium BC: Proceedings of the Iron Age Research Student Seminar 2008". Oxbow Books.

  • Russell, N. (2012) Social Zooarchaeology. Cambridge University Press.

  • Wait, G.A. (1984) Ritual and Religion in Iron Age Britain. BAR British Series.

  • Grant, Annie (1989) Animals and Ritual in Early Britain: The visible and the invisible. In L’Animal dans les Pratiques Religieuses: Les Manifestations Materielles. J.-D. Vigne, ed. Pp. 341-355. Antrhopozoologica, Vol. 3. Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique