Animal archaeology

News about an 800 year old turkey-feather blanket found in Utah, the Nasca feline in Peru, and investigations into British pet cemeteries.

Creature comforts

Analysis of a turkey-feather blanket from south-eastern Utah has yielded new insights into how such blankets were made by Ancestral Pueblo people in the American South-west. The blanket measures 99 x 108cm and is approximately 800 years old. According to research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, around 180m of yucca-fibre cord was needed, as well as some 11,500 feathers, taken from between four and ten turkeys, depending on the length of the feathers. The feathers were probably gathered from live turkeys when they moulted.

Feline old

During work at a viewpoint in the Pampa de Nasca, archaeologists from Peru’s Ministry of Culture found a 37m-long geoglyph in the shape of a feline. Based on its stylistic features, which have parallels in the ceramics and textiles of the Paracas culture, this feline has been dated to the Late Paracas period, c.200-100 BC. This means it pre-dates the more famous geoglyphs of the region, the Nasca Lines. Thanks to natural erosion and its location on a steep slope, the feline was barely visible, but has since been cleaned and conserved.

Pet paradise

Image: E Tourigny/Antiquity Publications Ltd.

A new study published in Antiquity (https:// examining graves at pet cemeteries in Newcastle and London, since the first one opened in 1881, has identified trends in the relationships between English people and their pets over a period of 100 years. The analysis by Eric Tourigny from Newcastle University has found that pets were referred to in the Victorian era as companions and friends, but after the Second World War there is a rise in references to pets as family members and in family surnames being included on their tombstones. Also on the increase in the 20th century were mentions of a pet afterlife, and of future reunions between people and their pets.