The rhythm of life

Exploring the role of daily and seasonal rhythms in the development of human-nonhuman relationships in the British Early Mesolithic

Authored by: Nick J. Overton

Multispecies Archaeology

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138898981
eBook ISBN: 9781315707709
Adobe ISBN:


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The removal of the traditional Cartesian divisions between humans and animals, which served to characterise animals as homogenous, static, non-sentient autonoma, opposed to a unique and separate humanity, has opened up the space for new explorations of human-nonhuman relationships (e.g. Cartmill 2008: 837; Wolfe 2003: xv; Agamben 2004; Calarco 2008). No longer inhabiting separate human and animal realms, relationships can instead be explored as emerging through daily interactions and engagements; humans and nonhumans are both just ‘ordinary knotted beings’ who are all mundanely here on earth, engaging in a ‘shaping dance of encounters’ (Haraway 2008: 3–5). Archaeology has engaged within this ‘animal turn’, with numerous studies focusing on tracing the engagements and relationships between humans and nonhumans in the past (e.g. Argent 2010, 2013; Armstrong Oma 2010, 2013; Jones 2009; Overton and Hamilakis 2013; Brittain and Overton 2013). By acknowledging the significance of nonhuman actions in relationship-forming human-nonhuman engagements, it is necessary to progress beyond a monolithic ‘human-animal’ relationship, to explore the vast array of potential relationships between specific nonhumans and humans. The question now presented is how might archaeology explore specific encounters, in a way that may elucidate how living relationships in daily life are manifest within archaeologically recovered materials? This chapter presents the concept of rhythm as a tool that can, in conjunction with faunal materials, be used to explore such engagements and relationships.

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