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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Our archaeozoologists ready to go! Wim Van Neer is on the left, Bea De Cupere to the right.
Bea De Cupere and one of our workmen sort tiny faunal remains from the sieve.
Thijs Van Thuyne at the flotation station

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Subsistence Studies: July 27-August 2, 2003

Faunal Remains

Our faunal team, Wim Van Neer (KULeuven; Royal Museum of Central Africa at Tervuren) and Bea De Cupere (also RMCA) focused on two specific excavation areas, Alexander's Hill and the Domestic Area.

Alexander's Hill
We identified and inventoried the faunal remains from the twelfth through thirteenth century recovered from the cistern on Alexander's Hill (see report July 6-12). The number of identified animal species is low, and they can be divided into three groups: the consumed animals, the intrusive animals, and the carcasses. Although the number of identified bones is also quite low, some conclusions can be drawn from this assemblage. The dominance of cattle among the consumed domestic animals is very striking. In addition, the presence of game (red deer and fallow deer) is noted in all three trenches, and represents up to 11 percent of the consumed mammals in trench 3. Domestic fowl, as well as wild birds and fish, are rare or completely lacking. It is likely that the characteristics of the fauna are related to the site's military character. In a military settlement, where many people can be (temporarily) concentrated on one spot, food provisioning may have focused on animals with a high meat yield, which would explain why mainly beef was consumed, followed by pork. Sheep and goat, providing much less meat than cattle and pig, are less represented. The hunted deer also yielded large quantities of food. The high ratio of deer can be explained either in terms of environment or of the military nature of the site. Red deer and fallow deer prefer landscapes with interspersed forests, suggesting that the environment of the site was much more wooded during the twelfth-thirteenth century than it was in Roman-Early Byzantine times. Alternatively, it could indicate that the area was less densely populated. Deer are in general very shy and will not live in close contact with humans. Another possible factor that can explain the high ratio of deer is that the occupants of the site were military that practised hunting either for recreation or out of economic necessity.

The Domestic Area
In the past two years, extensive sieving and flotation has been carried out at this late-Roman to early-Byzantine mansion. This yielded a large quantity of animal remains, from which the study only now is coming to an end, more than 120,000 pieces having been studied. Most of the material found at the domestic area should be considered as food refuse, more specifically kitchen or table refuse. Slaughtering refuse from larger domestic mammals (e.g. lower leg bones, horn cores, and skull fragments of cattle) or large, more complete skeletal elements, which one would expect to find related to butchery, are almost completely absent. On the other hand, leg bones from birds are present, indicating that fowl (or wild birds) were slaughtered or cleaned in the house (as with the fish). Among the animals represented in this excavation area, the high abundance of bird and fish bones is very striking. The fish bones are still under study at this moment, but cyprinids (carp-like species) seem to be the best represented. The majority of the bird bones consists of chicken bones. Further, the chukar and pigeon are also frequently observed. Sheep, goat, and pig are the best represented among the mammals. Most of the pig bones are from rather young animals. Quite a few specimens among the sheep-goat bones also indicate the consumption of young animals. Cattle bones on the other hand are rather rare.

Macrobotanical Remains

This week our team was enlarged by the arrival of Thijs Van Thuyne (KULeuven), who is preparing a doctoral dissertation on the paleoecological and paleoeconomic implications of the macrobotanical remains from Sagalassos. He set up his flotation station again and started to collect the material from occupation layers from the Domestic Area, from the Lower Agora, Alexander's Hill, and the Antoninus Pius sanctuary. This material will be analyzed in Belgium after the campaign.

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