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Article Reference Detecting the medieval cod trade: a new method and first results
This paper explores the potential of stable isotope analysis to identify the approximate region of catch of cod by analysing bones from medieval settlements in northern and western Europe. It measures the d13C and d15N values of cod bone collagen from medieval control samples collected from sites around Arctic Norway, the North Sea, the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. These data were considered likely to differ by region due to, for example, variation in the length of the food chain, water temperature and salinity. We find that geographical structuring is indeed evident, making it possible to identify bones from cod caught in distant waters. These results provide a new methodology for studying the growth of long-range trade in dried cod and the related expansion of fishing effortdimportant aspects of the development of commercialisation in medieval Europe. As a first test of the method, we analyse three collections of cod bones tentatively interpreted as imported dried fish based on a priori zooarchaeological criteria. The results tentatively suggest that cod were being transported or traded over very long distances since the end of the first millennium AD.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference First archaeozoological evidence for haimation, the ‘invisible’ garum
The fish remains are described that were found at the bottom of an Early Roman ceramic jar from Aila Aqaba, Jordan. The bones, representing the gill apparatuses of at least 33 medium-sized tunas (Auxis; Scombridae) and a single individual of a lizardfish (Trachinocephalus myops; Synodontidae), are believed to correspond to haimation. This highly prized fish sauce, documented previously only from ancient textual evidence, was typically made from the gills and the entrails of tunnids to which salt was added. The sauce was not imported from the Mediterranean or the Black Sea, but made from local Red Sea fish as shown by the zoogeographical distribution of the lizardfish that is considered as stomach content of the tunas. Because the fish bones were found in a locally produced jar and because the calculated volume of the haimation that the bones represent corresponds more or less to the volume of the jar, it is concluded that this high-quality garum was produced in this container at Aila itself.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Early cat taming in Egypt: a correction
A cat skeleton from a Predynastic burial in Egypt that was previously labelled as Felis silvestris is reidentified as Felis chaus. This means that the previous claim needs to be withdrawn that the specimen represents early evidence for taming of Felis silvestris that ultimately led to domestication. However, the statement that the small felid has been held in captivity for several weeks, based on the presence of healed fractures, is still valid.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference The Holocene occurrence of the European catfish Silurus glanis in Belgium: the archaeozoological evidence
An overview is given of the skeletal remains of the European catfish Silurus glanis found thus far in Belgian archaeological sites. These finds demonstrate that the species is autochthonous and allow documenting its occurrence and disappearance during the Holocene in the Scheldt and Meuse basins. Possible causes for the local extinction of this catfish are discussed.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Late 17th century faunal remains from the Dutch Fort Frederik Hendrik at Mauritius
The fauna is described from a refuse layer, excavated at Fort Frederik Hendrik on the island of Mauritius and dating to the last quarter of the 17th century AD. The animal remains enable the reconstruction of the food procurement strategies of the Dutch inhabitants of the fort and document the fauna at a time when the island’s original fauna had apparently already suffered heavily from human interference and from the negative impact of introduced species. The animal remains do not include any bones from the dodo, or other endemic birds, and neither is there evidence for the exploitation of the large, endemic terrestrial tortoises, also now extinct. Dugong, which are locally extinct nowadays, and marine turtles were also exploited as food, but the major meat providers were the introduced mammals: cattle, pigs, and especially, goat and Java deer. Fish was also a regular food resource and must have been caught in the local lagoon and estuaries. The absence of parrotfish and the relatively small size of the groupers suggest avoidance of these food items, probably out of fear of fish poisoning.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Special animals from a special place? The fauna from HK29A at Predynastic Hierakonpolis
Locality HK29A at Predynastic Hierakonpolis has been identified as a ceremonial center based on archaeological, architectural and macrobotanical data, although alternative functions as a feasting or butchery site have also been proposed. Animal bone assemblages excavated at the locality in the 1980s and in 2002 have been studied and are compared in detail to those from other localities at Hierakonpolis, as well as from other Predynastic sites in Upper and Lower Egypt. The comparisons show that HK29A shares several features with other Upper Egyptian sites, which can be related to their similar ecological settings. The fauna from Hierakonpolis settlement localities in general, including HK29A, show some peculiarities that distinguish them from other Predynastic sites in Upper Egypt, which may be explained by the status of the site as a large and powerful center. More importantly, the comparisons clearly show that the fauna from HK29A has some unique features not shared with any other locality at Hierakonpolis. They are argued to reflect a variety of symbolic roles that animals had, which probably changed throughout the period of use of the locality. Moreover, the faunal remains testify of the high social status of the people taking part in the clearly special activities at HK29A.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) Pellets from Roman Sagalassos (SW Turkey): Distinguishing the Prey Remains from Nest and Roost Sites
Two concentrations of animal bones, almost exclusively from small mammals and wild birds, were found within the destruction debris of a Roman bath complex in Sagalassos (SW Turkey). The overall species spectrum, skeletal element representation, fragmentation and preservation condition of the bones indicate that they represent the prey remains of a large nocturnal avian predator, more precisely the eagle owl (Bubo bubo). Differences in skeletal element representation and in prey species’ spectrum show that the two bone clusters derive from pellets deposited near a nest site and a roost site, respectively. Radiocarbon dates obtained from the bones indicate that eagle owls lived in the collapsing bath complex during the second half of the 6th to the beginning of the 7th century AD, before the final abandonment of the town. The MNI of the prey animals found at the nest site, confronted with the daily dietary needs of a female eagle owl and its young, indicates repetitive use of the same place during several years.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Palaeoecology of the Giant Catfish (Arius gigas, Ariidae) in Holocene Saharan and tropical West African waters
The Giant Catfish Arius gigas is an endemic species of West African freshwaters that is almost extinct today, and its way of life is poorly known to ichthyologists. However, this species is known from the Holocene archaeofaunal record, in particular from the Niger basin. The skeletal anatomy of the Giant Catfish described in this paper should facilitate its future identification within palaeo-ichthyological assemblages. In addition, the species’ occurrence is studied from a palaeogeographical and palaeoecological point of view. A. gigas certainly has ecological requirements similar to the related large carnivorous fish inhabiting well oxygenated waters, and would not tolerate shallow, muddy and stagnant ecotopes of marginal waterways. By over fishing such a large species, humans contribute to the lowering of its reproduction potential, and to its recent drastic decline.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Animal remains from predynastic sites in the Nagada region, Middle Egypt
Faunal samples from excavations between 1974 and 1981 in predynastic sites and a late predynastic/early dynastic cemetery in the Nagada region are inventoried. The faunal spectra compare well with those of other neolithic and predynastic sites of Nilotic Egypt. They point to agrarian communities relying mainly on fishing and livestock, as also suggested by most other known sites of the same neolithic and predynastic contexts. The neolithisation of the Nile Valley is an earlier event, perhaps coeval with and related to the origin and development of the complex pastoralist Late Neolithic of Nabta and the Western Desert.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Consumption patterns and living conditions inside Het Steen, the late medieval prison of Malines (Mechelen, Belgium).
Excavations at the Main Square (Grote Markt) of Malines (Mechelen, Belgium) have unearthed the building remains of a tower, arguably identifiable as the former town prison: Het Steen. When this assumption is followed, the contents of the fills of two cesspits dug out in the cellars of the building illustrate aspects of daily life within the early 14th-century prison. An integrated approach of all find categories, together with the historical context available, illuminates aspects of the material culture of the users of the cesspits, their consumption patterns and the living conditions within the building.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications