Food for Thought: The Potential and Problems of Faunal Evidence for Interpreting Late Antique Society

in Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology


This article considers the use of animal bones as an aid to understanding social dynamics in Late Antiquity. Faunal evidence has been deployed to great effect in many aspects of archaeology but, I argue, remains underexploited in Classical and Early Medieval contexts. Making the most of this material will require the development of new interpretative frameworks and an awareness of various methodological barriers. Nonetheless, patterning of data from Early Roman contexts provides a ready source of models to test and develop for later centuries. This process will be especially useful when groups of settlements can be compared (here, major towns in North Africa), and when faunal patterning can be related to contemporary developments in the landscapes where the breeding, husbandry and culling of livestock took place. Here I use the area around Wharram Percy, North Yorkshire as a case study.

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