There are major defining boundaries within archaeological perceptions of the human exploitation of the natural world. One of these is the longstanding biological dichotomy between plants and animals. Others include subsistence and material culture, and wild and farmed resources. These boundaries can be gradations, and people’s belief systems, as well as their actions, will affect these conceptual distinctions. This chapter explores some of the conceptual relationships between people and the plants and animals they use, with particular respect to crafts, but also to food. If people want containers then it does not matter from a pragmatic point of view whether that problem is solved by making a basket from plant materials, or a hide vessel from animal skin. Likewise, if people need food, it does not matter whether it is wild or farmed, as the calories are the relevant parameter. However, it will matter that people’s attitudes to wild versus farmed resources differ. Up until this point much of the consideration of the raw materials for crafts has

been focused on practical constraints, technological sequences and social and personal choices. The next step is to discuss the holistic plants-animal-people relationships in a freer way and at a larger scale. The examples indicate that people often use what is available and suits their technology, but this often means that in particular environments there are key resources. The relationship with these key species can be very close and intense. One way of thinking about wild versus farmed food systems is to see relationships with wild animals that are increasingly intense. Domesticated species originated in this way but not all intensive exploitations strategies are on an inevitable pathway to domestication (Rowley-Conwy 2001). There is not a goal in mind, nor is there a single trajectory. However, there are logical reasons why intense relationships would be built up with key animal and plant resources. The ensuing discussion explores some of these relationships and crosscuts the boundaries of plant and animal,

wild and farmed. In thinking through these issues for the raw materials from plants and animals, food has not been neglected here, but the reverse is not often considered. In general, archaeological discussions of plants and animals as food often lack any consideration of their use as craft materials. It is the craft implications of the intimacy between plants animals and people that will be explored here.1