Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, xv, 195 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Marilyn A. Masson

Committee Members

Robert S. Feranec, Stuart Swiny, Gwyn D. Madden, Robert Rosenswig


Animal Husbandry, Eneolithic, Fauna, Feasting, Mortuary Practices, Tripolye, Verteba Cave (Ukraine), Animal remains (Archaeology), Excavations (Archaeology), Copper age, Cucuteni-Trypillia culture

Subject Categories

Geochemistry | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


This study combines zooarchaeological and geochemical analyses to examine the use of animals excavated from Verteba Cave (Ukraine), a unique archaeological site associated with the Eneolithic Tripolye culture (4900 – 2900 BC). Verteba Cave is atypical among Tripolye sites because it is located within a cave, and contains a large amount of human skeletal remains. Although research has been focused on understanding Tripolye subsistence economy, the strategies engaged for procuring domestic animals and the role of animal products in Tripolye life has been underexplored. The role of animals in social behaviors (i.e., mortuary practices, feasting) has not yet been thoroughly investigated in Tripolye research. Research on the symbolic role of animals and their role in ritual events is primarily restricted to archaeological analyses of figurines, iconography, or other symbolic artifacts. The excavation of over 10,000 animal bones, teeth, antlers, and shells from Verteba Cave have provided an opportunity to explore this realm of Tripolye life in a way that has not been possible previously. Understanding animal resource use by the Tripolye is a crucial component to expanding knowledge on the role the Black Sea region played in the development of the Bronze Age.