Environmental Archaeology. The journal of human palaeoecology
Volume 6 Published October 2001
D. N. Smith, R. Roseff and S. ButlerAbstract
The integrated palaeoenvironmental results from a shallow palaeochannel in one of the old courses of the Trent at Yoxall Bridge, Staffordshire, are presented. The sampled deposit consisted of an accumulation of worked and fallen timbers, dated to 1049 to 810 cal BC, in the base of the channel. Sedimentological, pollen, plant macrofossil and insect analyses were carried out. The sediment seems to have been deposited by flooding within an area of back-swamp in the abandoned channel. The local landscape appears to have still included substantial woodland. There is also evidence for limited pasture and arable land. Pollen from the upper parts of the sampled horizons suggests that woodland clearance and cultivation may have increased in the area at this time. Although it was not possible to directly date the onset of the valley wide alluviation at Yoxall Bridge, it is probably consistent with the suggested date of around the first half of the first Millennium BC for this part of the Trent valley. One beetle present, Panagaeus cruxmajor (L.), is today very rare, its decline perhaps a result of habitat loss.
Keywords: Yoxall Bridge, River Trent, Late Bronze Age, Pollen, Plant macrofossils, Coleoptera
Eileen M. Murphy
Large quantities of animal bones were recovered from Medieval and Post-Medieval contexts during recent archaeological excavations in the historic town of Carrickfergus in Co. Antrim. A notable proportion of the dog bones present in this corpus of material displayed clear evidence for butchery and/or skinning. This is an unusual occurrence since it is generally the case that only the occasional dog bone in an archaeological assemblage will display cutmarks. The location of the cutmarks on the bones and the possible motivational factors behind their occurrence will be discussed.
Keywords: DOGS, BUTCHERY, SKINNING, MEDIEVAL, POST-MEDIEVAL, IRELAND
This essay is part of a continuing research program that investigates settlement patterns, palaeoenvironmental change, and archaeological variability in the earlier sites recorded by the Wadi Hasa Survey (WHS) in west-central Jordan (MacDonald 1988). In previous papers, we described both general and regional models for hunter-gatherer positioning strategies (Clark 1992), synthesised Levantine palaeoenvironmental information pertinent to the 100-10 kyr BP interval (Clark 1984, Schuldenrein and Clark 1994), and generated idealised site placement models based on relationships between site size and elevation in environments characterised by marked topographic relief (Coinman et al. 1988). Here we examine temporal distributions of cultural stratigraphic units within and across Hasa tributaries to determine whether or not correlations between site size and elevations indicate change over time in forager adaptations related to regional palaeoenvironmental fluctuations. Regional palaeoenvironmental models based on Mediterranean coastal data are themselves evaluated in terms of their applicability to inland Irano-Turanian steppe adaptations.
Keywords: GEOARCHAEOLOGY, ETHNOGRAPHY, NEAR EAST, SETTLEMENT, QUATERNARY, CULTURE STRATIGRAPHY
The fairy-circles, a group of mysterious earthworks, are restricted to the coastal heathland of Jæren, south-western Norway. They are the result of a specialised farming practice adapted to local environmental conditions and are often situated on convex landforms of Quaternary deposits. These earthworks comprise an enclosure defined by a bank and an oval or rectangular ditch in loose deposits. They have been recorded, archaeologically investigated and debated since the 1820s. Problems concerning their form, function and period of use have until now been unsolved.
Factors such as climate, Quaternary deposits, vegetation cover and land-use were recorded to put the fairy-circles into an environmental context. Principal components analysis (PCA) was performed on fossil pollen data from structures within 16 of these man-made constructions and compared to modern and fossil analogues. This study reveals a change in the pollen taxa throughout the period of use of these historic relics suggesting that the wet heaths and mires found on the slopes and concave landforms were used for haymaking, and that the fairy-circles served as bases for haystacks. The onset of this activity may be dated back to the Late Iron Age while the upper age limit is tentatively put at AD 1835.
Keywords: SOUTH-WESTERN NORWAY, HEATHLAND, LAND-USE, HAYMAKING, FAIRY-CIRCLES, HAYSTACK BASES
Sabine Hosch and Stefanie Jacomet
In the Neolithic lake shore site of Arbon-Bleiche 3 on the southern shore of Lake Constance (Bodensee) 27 houses were excavated, all built in the short time span between 3384 and 3370 B.C. (dendrochronological dating). During the excavation, a surface sampling for archaeobiological investigations was carried out. For this preliminary report we present the results of plant macrofossil analyses based on 17 samples, including some taken from parts of two houses and the spaces in between. The most important methodological results are that there were no differences between random and systematic sampling of the cultural layer. To obtain a statistically high enough number of remains in the bigger sieve fraction (³2 mm), sample sizes should be much bigger than previously thought (>3 litres). A Rarefaction Analysis (RA) showed that a minimum of eight samples per unit should be analysed to provide a representative spectrum of the most important useful plants. The economy of Arbon-Bleiche 3 was based on the growing of cereals (mainly tetraploid naked wheat, emmer and barley), flax and opium poppy, and many wild plants were collected as well. Comparing the spectra of cultivated plants with those from other sites, the results from Arbon bear a closer resemblance to spectra of the late Neolithic Horgen culture, from which the first traces are found starting from around 3400 B.C. onwards in eastern Switzerland. Inside the two investigated houses the concentrations of plant remains were lower than in the areas between the houses. In addition, there are relatively clear differences in the useful plant spectra between the two investigated houses.
Keywords: NEOLITHIC, LAKE SHORE SITES, PLANT MACROFOSSILS, SAMPLING METHODS, SAMPLE SIZES, INTRA-SITE VARIATION, SWITZERLAND
A taxonomy of animals as used by the early medieval inhabitants of the northern coastal area of the Netherlands, the so-called terpen region, is formulated on the basis of archaeozoological data from settlement sites and cemeteries, iconographic evidence in the form of animal brooches, and historical and literary evidence. The archaeological and historical evidence sheds light on the economic roles of animals, the former on their symbolic roles as well. Iconographic and literary evidence mainly provides information on imaginary animals figuring in narrative, mythology and heroic imagery.
Keywords: EARLY MIDDLE AGES, ARCHAEOZOOLOGY, ICONOGRAPHY, HISTORICAL EVIDENCE, LITERARY EVIDENCE
Roel C. G. M. Lauwerier and Jørn T. Zeiler
Bones from eleventh and twelfth century layers of Valkenburg castle in the Netherlands show a context of nobility with, among other things, a small but clear component of game and the indication of falconry. The remains of rabbits found at this site appeared to be a logical link in the distribution history of this species. This paper corrects the dating of these bones. The introduction of the rabbit to the Low Countries is discussed on the basis of historical and archaeological information.
Keywords: ARCHAEOZOOLOGY, MIDDLE AGES, RABBIT, BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS, HAWKING
This report presents the entomological evidence obtained from 4th century fills of a Roman well at Piddington, Northamptonshire. Analysis of the Coleoptera remains was restricted to one sample from the lower fill. A large fauna suggested an open, dry environment with areas of vegetation and accumulations of occupation debris nearby. The deposit was formed through a variety of mechanisms including accidental incorporation, natural deposition and possibly the deliberate dumping of refuse.
Keywords: PIDDINGTON, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, UK, COLEOPTERA, ROMAN, WELL, ENVIRONMENT
The presence of morphologically complete mammalian erythrocytes (red blood cells, RBC) from bloodstains has been previously evidenced in prehistoric implements. While the presence of ancient non-human blood on a prehistoric tool is evidence of the real use of this on an animal resource, the presence of RBC in a smear is evidence of blood. In a simulation of a prehistoric predation human operative chain, mammalian bloodstains on palaeolithic-like chert implements were obtained from two specimens belonging to the order Artiodactyla: collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu, family Tayassuidae) and Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas, family Bovidae). After one year, the unburied peccary blood smear and the buried gazelle smear were coated with gold and then examined by a scanning electron microscope. Results revealed the presence of preserved RBC with several shapes like those found in haematological studies, as well as curved plasma fractures and negative imprints, two bloodstain-characteristic morphologies which are interpreted as due, respectively, to erythrocyte-plasma interaction when drying and to imprinting by dried plasma matrix.
Keywords: RED BLOOD CELLS, BLOODSTAINS, SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPY, HAEMOTAPHONOMY, PALAEOLITHIC, EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY