Associate Professor Rod Campbell featured in Scientific American

By Iris Fernandez

ISAW Associate Professor Roderick Campbell’s research on animal sacrifice and human-animal relations in Early China was recently featured in several prominent and widely distributed publications, including Scientific American, Sapiens, Live Science and The Atlantic. An article and associated interview by the science journalist Joshua Rapp Learn, entitled "Uncovering the Sacrificial Puppies of the Shang Dynasty," highlights work on dog bones recovered from Early Chinese burial sites that Campbell and his co-author Zhipeng Li of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Archaeology recently published in Archaeological Research in Asia.

Campbell and Li’s study, "Puppies for the Ancestors: The many roles of Shang dogs," documents the practice of burying sacrificial puppies alongside humans in burials in Shang China. Contradicting earlier studies that speculated that these dogs were beloved pets who would provide companionship to the deceased in the afterlife, Campbell and Li highlight the young age of the sacrificed dogs and suggest that they were most likely from the ancient equivalent of puppy mills or from the litters of strays. Although Campbell’s research deals with burials from over three millennia ago, the wide audience and interest in his work is a testament to an ongoing and intense fascination in mankind’s relationship with animals from antiquity to the present day.

You can read the Scientific American article here, the Live Science article here, and Campbell and Li’s journal article here.