Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA
Archaeology's Interactive Dig
July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos

Mircea is measuring a long bone of cattle. By multiplying the total length of the bone with an index the height at withers of the animal is obtained.

A selection of the modern skulls collected over the years for comparative purposes

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

Archaeozoology: July 24-August 4, 2005

On July 24, the first archaeozoologists arrived. Mircea Udrescu and An Alen, both based at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels started analyzing the faunal remains we've recovered thus far. As usual, the amount of animal bones was relatively limited at the beginning of the excavation season, but over the last few days gradually more and more material is being brought to the excavation house for identification. It is expected that, as during previous seasons, large amounts of material will have to be dealt with soon, especially once the occupation levels are reached in the additional rooms excavated in the Domestic Area. The floor levels to be excavated in the various shops in the Macellum are also expected to yield abundant remains, especially since in those contexts extensive sieving and flotation is planned that will ensure the efficient recovery of the smaller faunal and botanical remains.

In the excavation house, each bone fragment is meticulously recorded and details are noted on the type of skeletal elements by which each species is represented. Information on the age and sex of the animals is recorded as well. Whenever possible, measurements are taken that allow estimation of body sizes and, sometimes, identification of the different breeds of the domestic animals. Pathological deformations, traces of butchery, and other modifications are also carefully studied. The identification of the animal species is based on the shape and the size of the individual bone fragments. Although our archaeozoologists are experienced scientists, who can easily recognize well-preserved bones from the major domestic and wild species, they often use bone atlases to aid their memory. When the material is heavily fragmented, or in case less diagnostic pieces have to be dealt with, they use their modern animal bone collection for comparison. Of the major species that have been found at the site--cattle, sheep, goat, dog, donkey, and horse--comparative skulls and bones from modern specimens have been collected over the years. This modern bone collection is mainly made up of road kills and carcasses of animals found during surveys. As long as the modern specimens are properly defleshed and do not produce bad smells our archaeozoologists and the rest of the team co-exist peacefully.

Previous pageNext page

InteractiveDig is produced by ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine
© 2010 Archaeological Institute of America

Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA