Archaeo-ornithology is a special field within archaeozoology: it deals with the analysis of avian remains found during archaeological excavations and the historical study of bird exploitation. Bird remains do not only help in the reconstruction of past habitats, but also illustrate ancient cultural attitudes towards animals and the natural environment. In spite of the rich information provided by the avian remains, their study has often been neglected. The lack of high-precision water-sieving and dry-screening indispensable in the systematic recovery of typically small bird bones, the scarcity of specialists trained in the analysis of avian remains and the need for comparative bird bone collections for professional identification explain why relatively few works have been published in this field world-wide.
The goal of this volume is to present evidence for the prehistoric use of birds identified from 27 Neolithic and 15 Chalcolithic sites in South-East Romania and the Great Hungarian Plain. In addition to the comparable chronological age of finds, the two geographically similar regions made it possible to compare the avifauna that once lived in these marshy lowlands on the one hand, and the characteristics of fowling practiced by the inhabitants of prehistoric settlements on the other hand. Results concerning the mammalian and fish remains from the sites under discussion have also been considered when the economic role of fowling was appraised. Special attention was paid to the description and illustration of taphonomic processes, including the culturally driven selective transport of body parts and wing curation, butchery marks and traces of burning and gnawing.
Domestic fowl was not yet introduced to Europe at the time of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic, which explains the rich variety of identified birds, as well as the need for fowling (procuring bird meat and feathers, collecting eggs). The seasonal characteristics of the identified species and remains from young birds suggested that fowling, a rather opportunistic activity – most probably linked with other seasonal occupations such as fishing and gathering –, was practiced mainly during the warmer months. Ethnographic parallels concerning the methods in bird hunting and consumption have been cited in the hope for a better understanding of bird exploitation. Recent ornithological data on the decrease of populations in certain species illustrates the danger of over-hunting together with the decline of natural habitats.
Filling a gap in the history of archaeozoological investigations in Romania and Hungary, this comprehensive work offers a unique possibility for sharing our knowledge on the diversity of identified birds and their use in the studied regions with those interested in the past and present of wild birds.
A kötet adatai:
Kiadás éve: 2007
Terjedelem: 149 oldal
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