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Status and new beginnings : archaeozoological research into the early medieval rural settlements of northwest Switzerland

Frosdick, Richard. Status and new beginnings : archaeozoological research into the early medieval rural settlements of northwest Switzerland. 2014, PhD Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_10687

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Abstract

The Early Medieval period in Europe sees the start of the formation of the land boundaries which are today considered modern Europe. This is a period of great change throughout Europe. Most significantly the Roman Empire is collapsing (Drack, 1979).
The ‘Romanisation’ of the region is heavily studied and relatively well understood as it appears to be for the rest of Europe (Flutsch et al. 2002). However the withdrawal of the roman administration of the region is less well studied, until recently, very little in the way of evidence for early medieval period settlements were available. Settlement sites were largely unknown until the work of Marti (1996, 2000) and Windler et al. (2005). This was in part perhaps to do with the less visible archaeological finds, wooden buildings, small and disparate settlements. This lack of information was further hindered by the paucity in historical sources in the region. Although, a large body of evidence of the early medieval peoples in the region of North West Switzerland exists, data mostly derives from the excavation of grave finds and burial sites (Martin 1991).
This study looks at rural life from the hinterland of Basel in the Late Roman and early Middle Ages (4th – 12th Centuries) through the archaeozoological data. The main points to take from my study are firstly that different site types; urban, rural and castle (high status) seem to have consistently different patterns of the three main domestic species through time and across a wide geographical range.
The changing stature of cattle from the late Iron Age to high medieval is also something that has an interesting progression with increases in stature during the Roman period and a decrease thereafter. Previous work by Breuer et al. (1999) touched on the subject when comparing Roman material to that of later sixth/seventh Century material from Scheitheim. Whilst these results showed a decline from the Roman cattle to the early medieval, the results produced here suggest a more complex stepwise decrease in the cattle size from the fourth Century onwards. Each step can be accounted for by a major change in the structure of society at the time. Firstly, the departure of the Roman administration and military from the area, the second change occurs with the influx of Frankish and Alammanic tribes from the Eastern banks of the Rhine. The last change observed in the data in the eighth/ninth Century which could coincide with the uptake of the manorial system.
The third topic is the attempt to follow meat supply in an urban context, namely Basel which during the later periods of the study has material from low status areas, craftsmen and high status areas. These show interesting patterns although this part was no more than a first step.
This work then clearly shows that there are differences both between and within the different site types and archaeozoology can clearly help in the understanding of settlement dynamics in complex societies, even with the absence of written sources within many of the periods and places studied in this work. This can occur through the study of husbandry and agricultural practices but also the social history of a site or region.
Advisors:Schibler, Jörg
Committee Members:Tauber, J.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Prähistorische und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie (IPNA) > Archäozoologie (Schibler)
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis no:10687
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Number of Pages:2 vols.
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:30 Jun 2016 10:55
Deposited On:24 Mar 2014 16:19

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