Changes in lifestyle in ancient Rome (Italy) across the Iron Age/Roman transition: the evidence from animal remains
Jacopo De Grossi Mazzorin and Claudia Minniti
As concerns the continuing debate over the impact of Roman conquest in the world, Rome represents a very interesting case study as it represented the core of the Roman Empire and the geographic foundation of Roman culture. In this respect, the zooarchaeology of Rome itself provides a most promising area of investigation, as the modern city has been the scene of extensive archaeological activity in recent years. The results from the analysis of animal assemblages from Rome and neighbouring geographic areas show that significant changes occurred across the pre-Roman/Roman transition and throughout the Roman period. They include substantial changes in diet, with pork consumption becoming predominant, improvements in pig and other livestock, the development of breeds and varieties of dogs, and the introduction of exotic animals for use in exhibitions and games.
Fishing, wildfowling, and marine mammal exploitation in northern Scotland from prehistory to Early Modern times
Fishing, seabird fowling, and the exploitation of marine mammals persisted in settlements around the coast and islands of western and northern Scotland from prehistoric times until the twentieth century. Until the mid-first millennium ad most fishing focused on immature saithe and was carried out close to the shore, but from Norse times onwards intensive deep-sea fishing for cod took place and, in the Hebrides, a herring fishery developed. Seabirds were a minor but regular part of subsistence; some were harvested from breeding colonies and others caught more casually, often in association with fishing. Marine mammals provided food and oil; whalebone was an important raw material. As well as exploiting stranded whales, people hunted seals from their breeding sites and small cetaceans by herding them into bays and inlets.
This chapter presents evidence of hunting and fishing in the Mesolithic period from the eastern Baltic region. During that time, these activities were the most important means of subsistence. Altogether twelve Mesolithic settlement sites yielded considerable amounts of animal remains that could provide information about the archaeofauna of this long period in human history. Basically, three phases of Mesolithic archaeofauna could be identified: Early Mesolithic, Middle Mesolithic, and Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic. These groups are in good accordance with the changing climate and environment of the area and characterize well a human ability to adapt in such conditions and find uses for faunal resources.
Paul Halstead and Valasia Isaakidou
Images, texts, and bones shed light on the place of animals in the later Bronze Age societies of southern Greece. Iconography offers an idealized vision of encounters with dangerous, exotic, and mythical beasts, of travel in elaborate horse-drawn chariots, and of ceremonial slaughter of bulls. Reality, even for the elite and as revealed by textual and faunal evidence, was more mundane: killing and consumption of sheep, goats, and pigs more than lions, deer, and bulls; and dependence, to finance a palatial lifestyle, on draught oxen for grain production and wool-sheep for exchangeable prestige textiles. Linear B texts describe aspects of animal management of interest to the Mycenaean palaces, while faunal data make clear how restricted were these interests. Faunal and ceramic data highlight the importance of commensality throughout the Neolithic and Bronze Age, and the shift from overtly egalitarian gatherings in the Neolithic to ostentatiously inegalitarian in the Bronze Age.
Simon J. M. Davis
During the ‘Arab Green Revolution’, Moslems introduced new irrigation techniques and new plants like sugar cane, rice, cotton, spinach, bananas, pomegranates, and citrus trees to southern Portugal. But we know little about the livestock sector in both the Moslem period and following the subsequent Christian conquest. This study of osteometric variation of sheep from archaeological sites in southern Portugal (the part that was once under Moslem rule) reveals an increase in the size of this animal in Moslem times. It is assumed that a size increase reflects improvement, which can be understood given the popularity of mutton in the Moslem world.
Zooarchaeological results from Neolithic and Bronze Age wetland and dryland sites in the Central Alpine Foreland: economic, ecologic, and taphonomic relevance
A small but very diverse structured landscape, a high degree of preservation of archaeological findings and structures because of waterlogged conditions, and very precise dendrochronological dating are the advantages of the archaeological and archaeozoological situation in Switzerland. These opportunities allow differentiating the topographic, environmental, and cultural conditions that influenced and shaped the role of domestic and wild animals in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Because of the proximity to the Alps, unfavourable weather conditions had a strong impact on agricultural production, resulting frequently in a more intense use of wild resources. Therefore, during the Neolithic, but even in the Bronze Age, hunting played periodically an important role. On the other hand, the topographic situation, the extent of open landscapes resulting from human clearances, as well as cultural influences, are responsible for the variable importance of different domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, goat, and pig.
The Carpathian Basin, situated between the Alps, the Carpathians, and the Dinaric Alps, has been a geographically and culturally diverse area throughout its history. Research intensity in all periods and places is likewise heterogeneous. A complete review of animal–human relationships is, thus, impossible. Following a historical overview of research, characteristic examples of animal exploitation between the Neolithic and the early eighteenth century will be highlighted. Special emphasis is placed on the way migrations and imperial politics impacted the composition of animal bone assemblages. The role of animals in self-representation and other forms of symbolic communication are also considered.
The zooarchaeology of complexity and specialization during the Upper Palaeolithic in Western Europe: changing diversity and evenness
Over the last twenty years attempts have been made to determine the nature of Upper Palaeolithic hunting specialization. This chapter traces assemblage structural ‘specialization’, where faunal assemblages are dominated by a single species, vs ‘diversity’, in which all recorded species are well represented, between 45,000 and 10,000 bp (Châtelperronian to Azilian), and demonstrates regularity in the archaeozoological record. It moves away from the assumption that assemblages with at least 90% of bones attributable to a single species result from specialized hunting strategies, and seeks explanations for patterns of diversification. The study also deals with the Late Glacial Maximum with its narrowing resource base and the Magdalenian of southwest France, when specialized reindeer hunting is traditionally considered of paramount importance. The chapter uses measures of diversity and evenness to quantify variation observed through time, highlighting a peak in single-species exploitation during the Middle Upper Palaeolithic. Finally, interpretations are offered for future consideration.
Konrad Smiarowski, Ramona Harrison, Seth Brewington, Megan Hicks, Frank J. Feeley, Céline Dupont-Hébert, Brenda Prehal, George Hambrecht, James Woollett, and Thomas H. McGovern
The Scandinavian Viking Age and Medieval settlements of Iceland and Greenland have been subject to zooarchaeological research for over a century, and have come to represent two classic cases of survival and collapse in the literature of long-term human ecodynamics. The work of the past two decades by multiple projects coordinated through the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO) cooperative and by collaborating scholars has dramatically increased the available zooarchaeological evidence for economic organization of these two communities, their initial adaptation to different natural and social contexts, and their reaction to Late Medieval economic and climate change. This summary paper provides an overview of ongoing comparative research as well as references for data sets and more detailed discussion of archaeofauna from these two island communities.