The Value in Studying Large Faunal Collections Using Traditional Zooarchaeological Methods: A Case Study from Anglo-Saxon England



New methods for the study of stable isotopes and ancient DNA have revolutionized zooarchaeology in the twenty-first century. However, there are many questions about prehistoric and early historic hunting patterns and animal husbandry practices that can best be answered by studying large faunal assemblages using traditional zooarchaeological methods, including basic identifications and body-part distributions, age and sex profiles, and standard measurement data. These low-tech methods can inform us about the use of animals for secondary products and economic intensification, as well as long term changes in butchery practices, animal sizes, and hunting and husbandry practices. Zooarchaeological data from the Anglo-Saxon sites of Brandon and West Stow and the Late Roman site of Icklingham in eastern England will be used to illustrate the value of traditional methods for contemporary zooarchaeological research.


Age profiles Butchery practices Assemblage sizes Sample size Roman Britain 



This research was supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation (BNS77-08141), the Wenner-Gren Foundation (no. 3267), and the US National Endowment for the Humanities, in addition to a Fulbright-Hayes Full Grant and Renewal to the University of Southampton. Additional financial support was received from English Heritage and from the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. I am very grateful to the two anonymous reviewers who helped me improve this paper. I am, of course, responsible for any mistakes or shortcomings.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Center for the Study of Human OriginsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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