Challenges and new directions in faunal analysis in Bulgarian prehistory: A view from the past decade
Keywords:zooarchaeology, recovery, quantification, archaeometry, Bulgarian prehistory
This paper discusses some of the major challenges facing the successful integration of faunal studies into broader archaeological investigations in Bulgarian prehistory and presents some of the lessons learned by a zooarchaeologist over the past decade in Bulgarian archaeology. In scope, the paper considers three fundamental issues that affect faunal analysis of prehistoric assemblages: recovery, quantification, and the integration of zooarchaeology with archaeometry. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of priorities for faunal researchers; rather, it addresses issues common to bone assemblages across time and space and should therefore be applicable to researchers working in any period of prehistory or later. Each theme is illustrated with concrete examples from the author’s field and lab work. This article is meant to serve as a roadmap for early career scholars with an interest in learning zooarchaeological methods and interpretation, but has a larger agenda: to demonstrate the value of methodologically robust faunal studies to larger issues of archaeological concern within Bulgarian prehistory, including – but not limited to – chronology, migration, economies, and the rise of political complexity and social inequality. As in many places, much work remains to successfully move zooarchaeology from niche specialty into major contributor to archaeological interpretation.