This chapter reviews evidence for the exploitation of animals in Medieval northwest Russia, highlighting the evidence from the town of Novgorod and its hinterland. The zooarchaeological evidence from this region has been complemented by other sources of archaeological and documentary evidence. Most faunal assemblages are dominated by cattle, which were of small stature and exploited mainly for their meat and milk. There is evidence that pigs became less important in later periods. Sheep and goat were poorly represented on most sites, but with goats forming a higher proportion of the sheep/goat remains than on many other European sites. Evidence for fur trade in the region comes mainly from sites deep in the forest zone. Horsemeat was consumed, although horses were mainly valued as transport animals. The high-status site of Ryurik Gorodishche produced evidence for organized carcass-processing, ritual deposition of horse skulls, and the import of exotic species.
Mietje Germonpré and Mikhail Sablin
This chapter focuses on the mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and large canid (wolf (Canis lupus) and/or dog (Canis familiaris)) assemblages recorded at Upper Palaeolithic sites from the Russian Plain and Siberia. It accordingly pursues the following questions: (1) Is the mammoth ubiquitously found in the Upper Palaeolithic sites of Russia?, (2) Are large canids as often present at Siberian sites as they are at sites from the Russian Plain? and (3) Could the high frequency of the mammoth remains in several Upper Palaeolithic assemblages be due to hunting by prehistoric humans? Finally, this essay underlines the need for further studies in this area.
Amy Bogaard and Amy Styring
The establishment of farming is a defining feature of the Neolithic period in western Asia and Europe. Decades of archaeobotanical research have clarified the spectrum of crops that emerged, geographical and diachronic variation in the cultivation of particular species, and, more recently, aspects of arable land management. Most of the available evidence, however, is indirect as regards the actual role of crops in the human (and animal) diet. Taking western Eurasia as a particularly well-researched frame of reference, this chapter uses case studies to illustrate complementary inferences from plant processing, storage, and food preparation evidence, on the one hand, and direct dietary inferences incorporating preserved human remains, on the other. This integrated approach supports the rarely tested assumption that crops were dietary staples in Neolithic communities, and that the ‘politics’ of their production and storage shaped social life.