The Easter E.g. - Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological "Aliens"


Human immigration and biological invasions are high-profile topics in modern politics but neither are modern phenomena. Migrations of people, animals and ideas were widespread in antiquity and these are frequently incorporated into expressions of cultural identity. However, the more recent the migrations, the more negative modern attitudes are towards them. In general, native is perceived as positive and 'natural', whereas the term 'alien' is attached negatively to cultural and environmental problems. This paper will explore these value-judgements through the example of Easter, the most important event in the Christian calendar.

The Easter festival and its associated animals - namely the brown hare, rabbit and chicken - are all 'alien' to most of the areas in where Easter is celebrated. This paper will focus on the integrated use of scientific approaches (genetics, GMM and isotopes) with evidence from traditional (zoo)archaeology, art history, and historical linguistics to investigate the human-mediated dispersal of the brown hare and rabbit in connection with the Easter cult. It will argue that the cultural and temporal context of these ‘alien’ introductions are key factors for both understanding the origins of Easter and challenging widespread negative attitudes towards cultural and biological 'aliens'. 

Cite this Record

The Easter E.g. - Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological "Aliens". Naomi Sykes, Greger Larson, Carly Ameen, Philip Shaw, Tom Fowler. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444558)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20237