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W. Van Neer, S. Hamilton-Dyer, R. Cappers, K. Desender and A. Ervynck (2006)

The roman trade in salted Nilotic fish products : some examples from Egypt

Documenta Archaeobiologiae, 4:173-188.

A description is given of two fi sh bone assemblages found at Mons Claudianus, a Roman site in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, and one from Quseir al-Qadim, a contemporaneous settlement on the Red Sea coast. The material is interpreted as the skeletal remains of salted fi sh products that were imported from the Nile Valley. In two cases the reconstructed sizes of the fi sh and the presence of articulating bones allow the defi nition of the fi sh product as salsamenta made from small Nilotic fi sh, rather than as fi sh sauce. Information about the seasoning of the product is provided in two cases by archaeobotanical data, and the analysis of the insect remains found in one of the assemblages provides evidence for local attack by carrion feeders feeding on the spoiled fi sh product. In addition, the presence of some of the beetle taxa representing pests typical for stored plant foods can only be explained as resulting from of the use of already infested plant ingredients during the preparation of the product. The analysis permits a comparison of these Nilotic fi sh bone assemblages to fi sh products found elsewhere in the Roman world. Older and more recent parallels are also briefl y discussed.
Peer Review, International Redaction Board
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