Pet-Keeping and Animal Sacrifice as Seen Economically and Archaeologically
2013-08-27 0:00

By Julie St Jean | HeritageDaily

Pet-keeping and animal sacrifice in antiquity were common practices. How the animals were treated can often be seen archaeologically.

By most modern standards, household pets such as cats and dogs are looked at as companion animals. It can be assumed that some people in the past acquired a similar affection to household or working animals. A companion animal is generally valued as being able to bring its owner a sense of loyalty, comfort, security and friendship.

Aside from being strictly companions, pets may additionally provide a household function such as dogs providing security for the family and household and cats catch and kill small, destructive pests. Companion animals need not always be soft and cuddly housemates and dogs and cats were not the only animals valued as pets. In some medieval and post-medieval farming societies, cattle and sheep were regarded as companion animals in life but at the time of their death, they quickly were converted from pet-status to food commodity (Harris 1986, 177-178).

Historical evidence surrounding the keeping of pets clearly shows that animals were prized not only for their household duties, but some, for more non-practical reasons. Some companion animals came to symbolize the status of a person or family. Lap dogs were in fashion in the early seventeenth century, as they are today.

The tiny dogs were a sure sign of wealth and status as evident by the sheer uselessness of the dog. Lapdogs generally do not catch and kill household pests, could not secure the home of its owner or protect its family from intruders. Aside from being little more than a vocal alarm, lapdogs have virtually no other practical purpose.

In Thomas (1983) work, it is stated that, The Stewarts in particular, were so obsessed with them that in 1617 James I was accused of loving his dogs more than his subjects. Other not-so-cuddly animals were often kept as non-practical companion animals or symbols of wealth. Exotic birds and monkeys among other unusual critters within the society were also clues to the statuses of their owners. Archaeologically, trade routes and bone evidence give clues to the animals imported and exported by a community. North African tortoises were traded as far back as the seventeenth century (Thomas 2005, 101) and the acquisition or collecting of strange, unusual or non-local animals signifies the elevated status of an individual (Thomas 2005, 101).


Read the full article at:

Related Articles
Literary Pets: The Cats, Dogs, and Birds Famous Authors Loved
Beauteous beasts: should we draw the line at genetically modified pets?
Psychic pets and twin telepathy
Names of Dogs in Ancient Greece
Dogs may have helped Humans beat the Neanderthals

Latest News from our Front Page

Sweden to give over 8 million euros to Turkey for "refugee deal" - Europe to give three billion euros total
2015-12-01 1:44
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced on Sunday that Sweden would contribute to a joint action plan agreed by nine EU nations designed to limit the number of refugees arriving in Europe via Turkey. The deal came after the German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a surprise summit in Brussels involving the leaders of nine countries including Sweden, France and the UK. The European ...
Swedish woman raped by "refugee" refuses to report it because she feels sorry for him
2015-12-01 0:12
Victim sympathized with rapist's "difficult situation" A Swedish woman who was raped by an Iraqi “refugee” on a train initially refused to report the incident to police because she ‘felt sorry’ for her attacker. The incident occurred on a night train between Umeå and Sundsvall back in October. The Iraqi refugee was traveling back to Sweden because he was unhappy with the ...
ISIS Oil Trade Full Frontal: "Raqqa's Rockefellers," Bilal Erdogan, KRG Crude, And The Israel Connection
2015-11-30 21:56
"Effectively, we have been financially discriminated against for a long time. By early 2014, when we did not receive the budget, we decided we need to start thinking about independent oil sales” --  Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan’s minister for natural resources In June of 2014, the SCF Altai (an oil tanker) arrived at Ashkelon port. Hours later, the first shipment of Kurdish ...
Prosecutors ban Soros Foundation as 'threat to Russian national security'
2015-11-30 21:04
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized George Soros’s Open Society Institute and another affiliated organization as undesirable groups, banning Russian citizens and organizations from participation in any of their projects. In a statement released on Monday, prosecutors said the activities of the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation were a threat to the foundations of Russia’s ...
Israeli Colonel Caught with Islamic State (IS) Pants Down
2015-11-30 21:11
This was definitely not supposed to happen. It seems that an Israeli military man with the rank of colonel was “caught with IS pants down.” By that I mean he was captured amid a gaggle of so-called IS–or Islamic State or ISIS or DAESH depending on your preference–terrorists, by soldiers of the Iraqi army. Under interrogation by the Iraqi intelligence ...
More News »