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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Fish otoliths and their relevance to archaeology: an analysis of medieval, post-medieval and recent material of plaice, cod and haddock from the North Sea

W. Van Neer, A. Ervynck, L. Bolle, R. Hamilton-Dyer and A. Rijnsdorp (2002)

Fish otoliths and their relevance to archaeology: an analysis of medieval, post-medieval and recent material of plaice, cod and haddock from the North Sea

Environmental Archaeology, 7:65-81.

The growth increments were investigated of late medieval, post-medieval and modern otoliths of plaice, cod and haddock from the North Sea. Thin-sectioned otoliths were used to age all the analysed individuals and to reconstruct their growth patterns. In addition, fish lengths of the archaeological specimens were calculated after the relation between otolith width and fish length was established using modern material. The age and fish length distribution, and the growth patterns obtained on the archaeological material allow inferences about fish trade, market strategies and consumption behaviour on producer sites (coastal sites) and consumer sites. Differences in growth patterns were observed between the archaeological and recent populations of the three demersal species analysed which may be related to a change in fishing pressure through time. However, diachronic changes in species distribution, temperature, food availability and selection of catch in function of market strategies may have played a role as well. Age and body size data allow some inferences about the exploited fishing grounds, but the growth patterns are of limited use in this respect.
Peer Review, International Redaction Board, RBINS Collection(s)
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