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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017 / Have birds ever mattered? An evaluation of the contribution of avian species to the archaeozoological record of Belgium (Iron Age to recent times)

Quentin Goffette, Anton Ervynck and Wim Van Neer (2019)

Have birds ever mattered? An evaluation of the contribution of avian species to the archaeozoological record of Belgium (Iron Age to recent times)

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 11:6353–6369.

This preliminary study aims to document general trends in the representation of bird remains in anthropogenic contexts from Belgian archaeological sites. A large dataset is analysed, consisting of 186 faunal assemblages from 79 different sites. The contexts included vary in terms of their taphonomic nature (refuse layers, latrines, pits, etc.) and date, ranging from the Iron Age to the modern period. The characteristics of the study area and the dataset as a whole are described, with a focus on identification rates, past and present avian taxonomic diversity, and relative abundance of bird remains compared with domestic mammal remains. The impact of recovery methods (sieving or hand collecting) on these various aspects is also evaluated. A taxonomic analysis describes the diversity and abundance of the different groups of species that are encountered and shows which habitats were preferentially exploited for the hunting of wild birds. The study shows that there is significant taxonomic diversity across the dataset. However, this diversity is not necessarily present in each separate archaeological context, as the number of remains identified by taxon is generally low. Some species or groups of species are ubiquitous and dominant, in particular domestic fowl. Although this analysis is broad and exploratory, it is believed that it will serve as a sound methodological basis for future, more detailed studies focusing on the role that birds played in past human societies during specific chronological periods
Peer Review, International Redaction Board, Impact Factor
IF 1.844
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