International Council
for Archaeozoology

Marine Mammal Working Group

 The formation of the Marine Mammal Working Group (MMWG) was initiated and supported by a group of scientists during a workshop on “Human Seal Interrelations: exploratory workshops on faunal history and exploitation of seals in Northern Europe” which was held in Iceland in September 2016 and financed by the NOS-HS (The joint committee for Nordic research councils in the humanities and social sciences).

The Marine Mammal Working Group focuses on the relationship between humans and marine mammals from a diachronic perspective. Marine mammals have been exploited by humans over time and exploitation patterns have varied greatly between regions, time periods and cultures.

The MMWG emerged from the necessity to develop a more holistic approach and gain a more precise view to the reconstruction and interpretation of human and marine mammal interactions in past societies. Methodological approaches such as osteological and osteometrical analysis, ancient DNA, multi-stable isotopic analysis, histological analysis on teeth/bones are valuable tools which enable us to gain new insights in ancient marine mammal ecology and population structure. Emerging techniques, technologies and synergies are also providing new areas for fruitful research. Some methods are still developing or need to be linked to other methods in order to gain more accurate results or to be able to translate the results.

We aim to establish a communication platform for scientific exchange and interaction by bringing together professionals, researchers and students from different disciplines across all regions of the northern, as well as the southern hemisphere. Thus, this platform will provide the opportunity to present and discuss new research, to bridge gaps between different disciplines and different scientific approaches and to help understand the interconnections between different fields. Furthermore, the Marine Mammal Working Group promotes the establishment of a multidisciplinary scientific network as experts from different disciplines will meet and have the opportunity to develop joint research strategies that cross boundaries between different disciplines.

The coordinator and liaison of the MMWP is Aikaterini Glykou and the group already has 70 members. New members are welcome. Please, send an email to for signing up for the mailing list.


The first meeting of the MMWG was in the form of one day session with the title "Marine Mammal exploitation from a diachronic perspective" during the annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists EAA in Maastricht 30 August-3 September 2017.

The second meeting of the MMWG took place at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, 20th-21st September 2019. Please, send your abstracts no later than the 1st of May 2019 to: For more information, please, visit the web page of the workshop:

The third meeting was hosted virtually the 2nd and 3rd of September 2021 by the University of Groningen.

The next MMWG meeting is scheduled for September 2024 and will be hosted at the Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University. More information will be announced.

This information has been contributed by Aikaterini Glykou, MMWG Liaison to ICAZ. Last update: August 11, 2022.