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HomeDatabasePH.D & MA thesis
The study of faunal remains in Yinxu
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:  Date:2010-04-20

 

By Li Zhipeng   (PH.D)        Supervisor: Yuan Jing

Key word: Anyang  faunal remains  butchery pattern  animal sacrifices

Abstract:
    Anyang is the capital site of Late Shang which yields abundant faunal remains waiting for comprehensive zooarchaeology study. This thesis is the first systematic zooarchaeological study of the faunal remains from this site.
    Fist, the history of the analysis of faunal remains from this site and related issues is reviewed and commented. Second, quantitative analysis is conducted based on the identified faunal remains from different locus in Anyang, which aimed to explore the composition, relative abundance of exploited animals by the Shang People during the late Shang period. The abundance of the species list reveals the diversity of animal resources exploited by the Shang People. But the spatial patterning of animal species has shown a distinctive picture of the animal exploitation by different community in Anyang that the wild animal species is more abundant in the temple/palatial region than in the common community and the bronze workshop. The high portion of domestic animals seems to support the high development of animal husbandry in the animal economy of the Shang which is characterized by the diversity of domestic animal species. Pigs, cattle, sheep/ goats, horse, dogs have all been domesticated. Meanwhile, chicken may be in the early stage of domestication during the late Shang period. This diversity of domestic animals shows the provisioning of rich food resource and forms the economic base of the Shang State.
    The mortality pattern of domestic animals reveals that the main goal of the husbandry of pigs, cattl and sheep/goats is meat production. This production mode may be the characteristic of the Shang society distinctive from the production modes of animal husbandry such as wool and dairy production of Sheep/goats and cattles in other regions in the world. The butchery pattern of domestic animals also supports the dependent provisioning of food of the urban dweller and the probable existence of the household pig husbandry in small scale.
    The zooarchaeologcial research of the food offerings in the mortuary context gives a clear picture that the preference of left forelegs of animal offerings has been a standardized ritual contrary to the description about the Shang ritual in the ancient texts during the late Zhou period.  It actually shows the continuity of the Shang and Zhou ritual in the preference of the body part of animal’s legs as food offerings. The patterning of the use of the whole body or body part of animal sacrifices matches the records of ancient text which further support the continuity of the ritual of Shang and Zhou in further.
    The diversity of species of animal sacrifices and the prevalence of cattle sacrifices during the late Shang period is intertwined. The evolution from the prevalence of pig sacrifices to the cattle prevalence is a turn point of the ritual use of animal sacrifices in the Shang state, which is also the outcome of the development of the animal husbandry during the Shang period.

 

 
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