STEM Shoutout: Dr. Emily Jones

Anthropology professor co-authors chapter in book Dogs: Archaeology Beyond Domestication


Dr. Emily Jones, an associate professor in UNM’s Anthropology Department, co-authored a chapter in Dogs: Archaeology Beyond Domestication book along with graduate student Victoria Monagle.

The chapter, “Dog Life and Death in an Ancestral Pueblo Landscape,” focuses on the role dogs played in human life. Dogs were the first animals to engage with humans in the process of domestication, resulting in a relationship that crosses cultural and geographical boundaries.

Monagle’s master’s project re-examined a Smithonian collection of dog bones found in a pueblo site in Colorado in the 1970s. Jones worked closely with Monagle to put her research findings together on a chapter.

“She and I started working together on how to talk about the fact that exclusive categories don’t talk about ritual versus functional action. Often they are both ritual and functional, and this was the case with these dogs,” Jones said.

The initial analysis suggested that dogs in the Ancestral Pueblo were used as a food source and sacrifices in rituals, but the new research findings reflected that dogs actually played multiple roles within the community throughout their lifetime.

Some of these findings were that the dogs’ bones showed traces of healed fractures, which showed they had been cared for by humans as well as having interacted with other dogs within the community. But the dogs were buried in a way suggestive of a patterned killing. In other words, they were part of the human community during life, but their deaths seem to have been a ritual or religious activity.

“I have, for a long time, been thinking about these ideas about how in the sciences we want to come up with these categories that are useful for analysis, but sometimes those categories can get in the way. I am really grateful to Victoria for bringing this and giving me the opportunity to work with her because it is giving me a chance to start acquiring this area that I need to keep working on,” Jones said.