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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The division of the cattle carcasses as found in the Odeion: the red coloured parts were sold together with the skin (lower part of legs) or with the meat (e.g. the vertebrae). The rest was thrown inside Corridor 1 of the Odeion.
A bone with clear cut marks
The teeth are much worn and some of them have even completely disappeared.

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

Archaeozoology: Odeion

Veteran archaeozoologists Mircea Udrescu and Bea De Cupere of the Museum of Natural Sciences at Brussels started the analysis of the enormous amount of late sixth century A.D. bone material that was recovered last year. The material was recovered at the end of the campaign in the Odeion's Corridor 1, thrown in there when the building was abandoned and used as a butcher's dump (see Archaeozoology: August 21-25, 2005). During the previous year, a preliminary study was carried out. During this campaign, the material is being examined in detail. About two thirds of this bone concentration has been studied at this point. During the last couple of days, more material was recovered in the neighboring sector of the Odeion.

The bone concentration clearly represents the refuse of butchery activities. The majority of the material consists of the remains of cattle. Most bones are heavily chopped or show a high frequency of cut marks, and it was hypothesized that the meat was cut off the bones before being sold. The remains studied thus far represent the refuse of at least 40 animals. Examination of the mandibular teeth indicates that most of them were slaughtered at an old or very old age. The teeth are greatly worn and some of them have disappeared completely, leaving only the roots in the mandible. Periodontitis has been noted in most upper cheeks. This disease is a result of an inflammation or infection of the gum and the bone, and may lead to tooth loss. The high incidence of periodontitis is most probably related to the advanced age of the slaughtered cattle. These animals were therefore not only kept for their meat but were used for other purposes as well. One of the main reasons for keeping cattle to an old age is that they can be used for working fields or transporting heavy materials. In a few cases, pathologies related to hard labor could be observed on the bones. Although the cattle bones were highly fragmented and only few measurements were taken, the shoulder height could be calculated from some complete canon bones, giving heights of more than 145 centimeters. However, in this assemblage the remains of some smaller and even very small cattle were represented as well. These smaller-sized cattle probably represent cows that were kept for their dairy products, as large cattle were the most suited to heavy work.

A small part of this bone assemblage consists of goat and sheep bones, including the remains of at least 70 goats. The ovicaprine remains consist mainly of horn cores, all chopped at their base. The majority of these horn cores are from adult females, while both young and adult males have been identified. Other cranial fragments and post cranial elements are rarely represented in this assemblage. Most probably, these small animals were slaughtered at the same place as the cattle but, in contrast to cattle, the processing of the carcass and the distribution of the meat took place in a completely different way. The carcass of the ovicaprines was probably completely chopped into small portions which were easy to cook. As such, there was no need to remove the bones, but the meat was sold together with the bones. This hypothesis is supported with evidence from other parts of Sagalassos; ovicaprine bones are frequently represented in the faunal assemblage of the Domestic Area's palatial mansion, while cattle bones are very rarely observed at this place.

Pig bones are poorly represented in the bone assemblage of the Odeion but one can assume that pigs were also slaughtered at this place in significant numbers. If the processing of these animals is similar to that of the ovicaprines, they will leave few traces at the slaughtering place, as the animal would have been sold in portions with its bones.

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