Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Bettina Arnold

Committee Members

Sneža Tecco Hvala, Derek B. Counts, Patricia Richards, Jean Hudson


Early Iron Age, Hallstatt, Human-Animal Relations, Iconography, Slovenia, Zooarchaeology


This dissertation investigates the place of animals in the cultural world of Early Iron Age southeastern Slovenia (800-300 BCE) by analyzing animal iconography and faunal remains in archaeological contexts. The central questions are: What types of human-animal relationships characterized Early Iron Age Slovenia, and how were these relationships intertwined with conceptions about animals in local cultural frameworks? I examine the conception of the animal world and its symbolic significance through quantitative and qualitative analyses of animal depictions on artifacts as well as faunal remains from mortuary contexts. The analysis is structured to answer a series of empirical questions that provide insight into the central questions posed above. These include: 1) In what contexts do animal depictions and zooarchaeological remains appear and is there any patterning within or between these datasets? 
2) Are there any differences in the representation or treatment of certain animals based on taxon? 3) Are any of these representational artifacts or taxa preferentially associated with elites or other identifiable social roles? 
This holistic analysis reveals how ideologies and practice were co-constituted in the construction and maintenance of human-animal relationships and how conceptions of animals were deployed in symbolic communication through the medium of artistic representation. The use of multiple lines of evidence provides a robust framework, both materially and theoretically, to address ancient beliefs and practices regarding animals. The juxtaposition of representational practices and the remains of physical interactions with animals evidenced by the zooarchaeological remains provides insight into multiple aspects of prehistoric animal relations – the real and the ideal(ized). This highlights the multifaceted nature of human-animal relationships and the fundamental role played by material culture in these interactions, where multiple complementary, competing, or even contrasting ideologies and modes of practice may exist simultaneously in the same cultural sphere, and are negotiated through time. This project contributes to a growing literature on how animals and humans are intertwined in preindustrial societies conceptually as well as physically – good to think as well as good to eat, sacrifice, or depict.