The overarching aim of The Sheep People is to examine what happens to the understanding of past societies when animals are perceived as sentient beings, agents with the ability to impact human lives. Not only are the agentive powers and potential of animals recognised, but also how this shaped prehistoric societies. Throughout, animals are considered as themselves, not as props, tools or consumables for human societies. A thorough review of recent research that supports the agential potential of animals from Human-Animal Studies and the social sciences, as well as ethology, biology and neurology is given, and discussed in light of the archaeological case study. In the Early Bronze Age in northern Europe, a transition from building two-aisled to three-aisled longhouses as the primary farm dwelling took place. In Rogaland, southwestern Norway, this architectural change happened as the result of intensified human-sheep relationships, born from greater engagement and proximity needed to utilise wool. Evidence from landscape changes, settlements, mortuary practices and rock art give an in-depth understanding of the life-world of Bronze Age human and non-human agents and the nature of the choices they made. A rock art panel portraying sheep, man and dog demonstrates the entangled choreography of sheep herding.
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About the Author
Dr. Kristin Armstrong Oma is currently the Head of the department of education and public service at the University of Stavanger, Archaeological museum (2013-present). She is an archaeologist and holds a PhD in archaeology from the University of Southampton (2002-2004), and a postdoctoral fellowship in archaeology from the University of Oslo (2010-2013). Previously, she was a junior lecturer in the department of archaeology at the University of Oslo, and has also participated in a wide range of archaeological fieldwork. Her research is situated in-between archaeology and human-animal studies. In her scholarly work she actively engages in arenas of archaeology and also of interdisciplinary human-animal studies arenas. She has published extensively on the relationships between humans and animals in the past, and she was guest editor of a Society and Animals special issue on archaeology, as well as co-editor of a World Archaeology volume called Humans and Animals.
Table of Contents
1. Towards an Archaeology Informed by Human-Animal Studies 2. Understanding Animals: Perception, Sentience and Anthropomorphism 3. Animal Agency 4. Three-aisled Houses in Early Bronze Age Rogaland: Who were the Household Members? 5. A Closer Look at Sheep, Sheepdogs and the Dynamics of Herding 6. The Sheep People: Towards an Archaeology of Ontology