Environmental Archaeology. The journal of human palaeoecology
Volume 5 Published October 2000
Research PapersPalaeoenvironmental and Archaeological Implications of Isotopic Analyses (13C, 15N) from Neolithic to Present in Qazvin Plain (Iran)
Hervé Bocherens, Marjan Mashkour and Daniel BilliouAbstract
Palaeoenvironmental changes since the sixth millennium B.C. in northern Iran have been assessed through isotopic studies of archaeozoological remains from three prehistoric sites. Good quality collagen has been extracted from more than 40 bone samples from wild and domestic herbivores, boars, dogs and humans belonging to Zagheh (sixth-fifth millennium cal BC, Neolithic), Qabrestan (fourth-third millennium cal BC, Chalcolithic) and Sagzabad (second-first millennium cal BC, Iron Age). There is no clear trend in decreasing collagen content with increasing age. The carbon isotopic composition of herbivore collagen indicates mainly a consumption of C3-plants, with a significant amount of C4-plants in some individuals. The amount of consumed C4-plants is correlated to increasing d15N, suggesting that C4-plants are linked to saline environments. The d15N and d13C of wild herbivores seem to decrease with decreasing age, suggesting wetter conditions in Iron Age than in Neolithic times. However, domestic herbivores do not exhibit any trend, maybe because environmental conditions linked to human activity are less variable than natural conditions. Differences in herding practices may explain isotopic differences between cattle and caprine.
Keywords: IRAN, HOLOCENE, COLLAGEN, CARBON-13, NITROGEN-15, PALAEOENVIRONMENTTephrochronology, Environmental Change and the Norse Settlement of Iceland
Andrew J. Dugmore, Anthony J. Newton, Guðrún Larsen and Gordon T. Cook
The first human impacts on the Icelandic environment came with the Norse colonisation or Landnám of the ninth century AD. The colonisation represents a fundamental environmental change that is both rapid and profound. In this paper we assess geomorphological dimensions of the initial settlement period using a tephrochronology that includes the Landnám Tephra, erupted ca. 870 AD, two tenth century AD tephras KR 920 and E 935, and 11 other well dated tephra layers. We report a new 14C age of 1676 ±12 14C yr BP (cal AD 345 (400) 419) for the tephra SILK-YN which forms a key prehistoric marker horizon that constrains rates of environmental change in the centuries before Norse Settlement. Aeolian sediment accumulation rates show five geomorphological responses to settlement that differ in the rate and trajectory of change. These distinct anthropogenic signals are the result of spatially variable sensitivity to grazing and deforestation, and reflect the extent of local soil erosion. This critical erosion threshold is variable in space and time.
Keywords: TEPHROCHRONOLOGY, ICELAND, HUMAN IMPACTS, RADIOCARBON DATING, SOIL EROSIONProduction, Imports and Status: Biological Remains from a Late Roman Farm at Great Holts Farm, Boreham, Essex, UK
Peter Murphy, Umberto Albarella, Mark Germany and Alison Locker
Botanical and faunal remains from a 3rd-4th century AD Roman farm at the modern Great Holts Farm, Boreham have provided a picture of an agricultural system based predominantly on arable production. Agrarian innovation is evinced by the bones of exceptionally large cattle which, it is suggested, may have been imported as powerful tractors so as to exploit heavy clay soils more effectively. Although the farm house was a vernacular timber building, lacking decorative refinements, the occupants were affluent: they had the resources to consume imported plant foods and preserved fish, and to enjoy recreations including hunting and, probably, hawking (or some other form of hunting with tamed raptors). Architectural pretension was not the only way to express affluence and status in the countryside of late Roman Britain; structural remains are only one indication of prosperity. Biological evidence for economy, diet and life-style can be equally significant.
Keywords: ESSEX, ROMAN, AGRICULTURE, INNOVATION, IMPORTS, STATUSCarbonised Cereal from Three Late Neolithic and Two Early Bronze Age Sites in Western Norway
Carbonised cereals were found in three Late Neolithic and two Early Bronze Age sites in western Norway. One site, Hjelle is located in northwestern Norway with no close connection to the sea. The Skrivarhelleren site is located in the mountains of the inner Sognefjord. The Voll, Sørbø and Ystabø sites are located on two islands in the middle of a fjord area north of Stavanger, SW Norway. Primarily Hordeum vulgare var. nudum (naked barley) were found. A few grains of Hordeum vulgare (hulled barley) were present in samples from two of the sites. Triticum dicoccum (emmer), Triticum sp. (wheat) and remains of collected plants were also found. The data produced for this article showed that by the end of the Neolithic/beginning of the Bronze Age there must have been an established agricultural economy in parts of western Norway.
Keywords: CARBONISED CEREALS, LATE NEOLITHIC, EARLY BRONZE AGE, WESTERN NORWAY, TWO-AISLED HOUSE, POSTHOLES14C Dating and the Reconstruction of the Sedimentary Environment and Occupational History of Saltés (Atlantic coast, Southern Spain)
Mark Van Strydonck, Anton Ervynck, Cecile Baeteman and An Lentacker
The taphonomy and chronological context of shell deposits excavated at the location of the deserted late medieval harbour town of Saltés (Atlantic Coast, Spain) were investigated. An interpretation of the depositional history of the deposits was made on the basis of radiocarbon dating and points to a multiple origin of the assemblages. Although the shell deposits are much older than the medieval site, the investigation showed that they still had an anthropogenic origin.
Keywords: MOLLUSCS, TAPHONOMY, RADIOCARBON DATING, COASTAL ENVIRONMENTWood and Plant-use in 17th -19th Century Iceland: Archaeobotanical Analysis of Reykholt, Western Iceland
As part of a multidisciplinary investigation of post-medieval Icelandic land and plant use practices, archaeobotanical samples were collected from Reykholt, west Iceland in 1988 and 1989. Analyses included plant macrofossils (seeds and leaves) and wood identification from excavated rooms in a 17th century farm house. In conjunction with earlier palaeoentomological studies, the functions of three different excavated rooms are inferred. Archaeobotanical results suggest that the farm was a prosperous one, with imported foodstuffs and wood implements from continental Europe.
Keywords: ARCHAEOBOTANY, PLANT MACROFOSSILS, WOOD, PLANT USE, ICELANDFood for the Dogs? The Consumption of Horseflesh at Dudley Castle in the Eighteenth Century
Richard Thomas and Martin Locock
Excavations carried out at Dudley Castle recovered an assemblage of animal bones dominated by horse from the vaulted cellar beneath the Great Hall. The deposit dates to c. 1710 and appears to have been the result of partial butchery of several aged horses. The possible interpretations are discussed and it seems likely that the deposit represents the leftover waste of a knacker.
Keywords: DUDLEY CASTLE; HORSE; ZOOARCHAEOLOGY; POSTMEDIEVAL; DIET; KNACKER
Papers presented at ICAZ 1998The Origins of Metallurgy in the Central Balkans based on the Analysis of Cut Marks on Animal Bones
Haskel J. GreenfieldAbstract
This paper presents the results of new research that makes it possible to monitor the origins and spread of metallurgy despite the absence of metal artifacts. This was accomplished by comparison of the results of experimental cut marks with cut marks on bones from prehistoric sites spanning the introduction of metal tools in the central Balkans. Experimental replication of cut marks using chipped stone tools and steel knives yielded consistent differences in morphology. This allowed the differentiation of metal from stone knife cut marks under high magnifications. Metal knives leave a very different slicing profile than stone knives. Metal knives produce a cut mark with either a sharp V- or a broad |_|‑shaped profile, and lack any parallel ancillary striations. In contrast, stone knives leave a more irregularly shaped cut mark profile. Separated by a deep groove at the bottom, one side of the cut mark is steeply angled, while the other side has a more gradually rising slope with one or more parallel ancillary striations. Morphological differences between cut marks on animal bones made by stone and metal knives can be used to determine the rate of adoption of metal tools. In this paper, data from the central Balkans of southeast Europe are presented to demonstrate that the adoption of metallurgy was a slow and halting process. A major determinant for access to early metallurgy is status, with elites obtaining access to effective cutting metallurgy earlier than commoners.
Keywords: ZOOARCHAEOLOGY, CUT MARKS, ORIGINS OF METALLURGY, SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPY, BALKANS, SE EUROPEEnamel Ultrastructure of Cattle from the Quaternary Period in India
The present paper examines tooth enamel of three species of cattle, Bos acutifrons, Bos namadicus and Bos indicus, which are supposed to have been phylogenetically related and belong to the Quaternary period. It aims to show whether in a short geological time span of 2myrs, the changing environs that cattle were exposed to during the Early Holocene have caused any microstructural changes in their tooth enamel.
Mammalian teeth exhibit a very complex arrangement of prisms in the enamel. The prisms are bundles of hydroxyapatite crystallites, arrangement of which is genetically determined and subject to evolutionary change. Hypsodonty or high crowned molars are such examples where concomitant masticatory stress factors near the enamel-dentin junction (EDJ) are known to have affected and altered the enamel microstructure in several large mammalian genera. Modified radial enamel in the deep enamel layer in some ungulates, including cattle, is an adaptive response to these stress factors which appeared much earlier (Tertiary) in the evolutionary history of these large mammals.
The cattle enamel analysed here revealed several levels of structural complexity indicating its functional designations. The schmelzmuster in cattle are formed of three enamel types: radial enamel (outer enamel), Hunter-Schreger Bands (mid enamel), and modified radial enamel (inner enamel). There is an increase through time in the percentage of Hunter-Schreger Bands (HSB), which cover up to about 68% of the entire enamel surface among recent cattle. The modified radial enamel and radial enamel do have a receding trend in the Holocene, compared to their Pleistocene ancestors
Keywords: CATTLE, ENAMEL ULTRASTRUCTURE, SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPY, ENAMEL TYPES, SCHMELZMUSTER
Ruth Pelling and Mark Robinson
Discoveries of Triticum dicoccum (emmer wheat) on two middle Saxon settlements in the Thames Valley point to the re-introduction of this crop to Britain after the end of the Roman period. Radiocarbon determinations on charred glumes confirm the dating of the remains.Keywords: ARCHAEOBOTANY, SAXON, CEREALS