The archaeozoology team presents in ICAZ2023!

Next week, Lídia Colominas and Abel Gallego-Valle will be in Australia to present the latest results of the archaeozoology team at GIAP (ICAC-CERCA) in the 14th International Council for Archaeozoology Conference ICAZ2023, which is taking place in Cairns, Australia, from the 8-12 August 2023.


Searching for a GMM standardised protocol for sheep astragalus. First attempts, first problems and first conclusions
Lídia Colominas, Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology, Tarragona.  
Allowen Evin, Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution–Montpellier, UMR 5554 -ISEM, CNRS, IRD, EPHE,
Ashleigh Haruda, University of Oxford, UK & University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Nadja Pöllath, Staatssammlung für Paläoanatomie München/Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns & ArchaeoBioCenter LMU. 
Manon Vuillien, Côte d’Azur University, Cultures & Environnements: Préhistoire, Antiquité et Moyen-Âge (CEPAM) UMR 7264, CNRS, Nice, France

With the increased application of geometric morphometric approaches, different protocols for the same bone and species have been published. We attested this on the 8th ICAZ AGPM Working Group meeting (Paris, 2019) in which we presented together three different landmark protocols to study sheep astragalar phenotypic variability and more protocols have been appearing since then. Therefore, there is a growing necessity to standardize the protocols and also to properly investigate the biological variables that are captured on this bone. 

In this paper we present our first attempts at identifying an optimal protocol for measuring the sheep (Ovis aries) astragalus while also controlling for variation between acquisition technology, two- and three-dimensional recording, and interoperator variation.

Looking for the herd. Livestock practices and animal feeding in the Northeastern Iberian Peninsula in Late Antiquity (4th-8th c. AD).
Authors: Gallego-Valle, Abel1; Colominas, Lídia1; Palet, Josep Maria1
¹ Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology. Tarragona, Spain

During the Late Antiquity (4th- 8th c. AD), the North-East of the Iberian Peninsula witnessed major transformations between the collapse and fall of the Roman Empire and the arrival of Visigoths. This time period is characterized by important changes in settlement patterns as well as in the economy and social organization of these communities. Environmental and landscape changes have also been pointed out, but little is known about animal husbandry. Through an archaeozoological approach, the present study contributes to the reduction of this deficiency, studying changes and continuities in livestock practices and animal feeding during this time period.

Faunal remains from six archaeological sites, including rural settlements, urban spaces, and ecclesiastical sites have been analysed. More concretely, osteological and dental microwear analyses have been conducted. The latter has involved the creation of a specific dental microwear reference collection with the objective of studying caprine feeding management systems.

Osteological results support an increase in the exploitation of sheep above swine and bovines, with variable kill-off patterns between sites. Dental microwear data show a diversity of feeding patterns between sites. This endorses the use of vegetal resources available nearby the settlements. Nevertheless, the data also indicate the possible generalized use of fodder to feed caprine herds. Therefore, archaeozoological data a show fairly self-sufficient exploitation of livestock and of the surrounding landscape during the Late Antiquity in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula.

Looking for the herd. Interdisciplinary project to track the origins of transhumance at northeast of the Iberian Peninsula during Middle Ages.
Authors: Gallego-Valle, Abel1; Oliver, Jaume2; Pescini, Valentina1; Garcia-Molsosa, Arnau1.
¹ Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology. Tarragona, Spain
2 Autonomous University of Barcelona. Bellaterra, Spain

Animal husbandry has been one of the most important livelihood activities since the beginning of animal domestication during the Neolithic. Not just the management and exploitation of the herd, but the acquisition and management of the needed resources to feed it. All these actions have implied major decisions, from the search for good pasturelands to addressing interactions with other activities, such as agriculture.

We are developing a project focused on understanding the evolution of livestock practices, with special attention to the practice of transhumance, in the Montseny massif, a mountain range located at the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, during the transition between Late Antiquity and Middle Ages. The project also includes the transfer of knowledge and a proposal for the socialization of results.

For this purpose, research from an archaeozoological approach is been conducted. The current results demonstrate the importance of sheep farming. These results are being strengthened by the team’s project, a team that covers different disciplines such as environmental archaeology, geoarchaeology, or archaeological interpretation of medieval written sources. The preliminary findings from the last one mentioned have already shown a profound synergy with the archaeozoological results.Through the archaeological reading of the written documentary record, references to transhumance routes associated with the mobility of sheep herds were discovered. It is also possible to detect the relationship between this activity and the first phases of the feudalization of the mountain space. Therefore, these findings supported the importance of the exploitation of sheep and their mobility through the territory.

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