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Livestock Changes at the Beginning and End of the Roman Period in Britain: Issues of Acculturation, Adaptation, and ‘Improvement’

  • Mauro Rizzetto (a1), Pam J. Crabtree (a2) and Umberto Albarella (a1)


This article reviews aspects of the development of animal husbandry in Roman Britain, focusing in particular on the Iron Age/Roman and Roman/early medieval transitions. By analysing the two chronological extremes of the period of Roman influence in Britain we try to identify the core characteristics of Romano-British husbandry by using case studies, in particular from south-eastern Britain, investigated from the perspective of the butchery and morphometric evidence they provide. Our aim is to demonstrate the great dynamism of Romano-British animal husbandry, with substantial changes in livestock management occurring at the beginning, the end, and during the period under study. It is suggested that such changes are the product of interactions between different cultural and social traditions, which can be associated with indigenous and external influences, but also numerous other causes, ranging from ethnic origins to environmental, geographic, political, and economic factors.

Dans cet article nous considérons certains aspects de l’évolution de l’élevage en Grande Bretagne à l’époque romaine, en examinant tout particulièrement les phases de transition entre l’âge du Fer et l’époque romaine et entre cette dernière et les débuts du Moyen Age. Notre but, en analysant les deux extrêmes de l’époque d'influence romaine dans la province de Bretagne, est d'identifier les caractéristiques essentielles de l’élevage romano-britannique dans une série d’études de cas provenant en particulier du sud-est de l'Angleterre et portant sur les traces de dépeçage et la morphométrie des ossements. Nous espérons ainsi démontrer que les dynamiques de l’élevage romano-britannique comportent des transformations importantes dans la gestion du bétail avant, pendant et après l’époque romaine. Ces changements sont sans doute liés aux interactions entre différentes traditions culturelles et sociales associées à des influences tant indigènes qu'extérieures mais aussi à d'autres facteurs d'ordre ethnique, environnemental, géographique, politique et économique. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

In diesem Artikel werden Aspekte der Entwicklung der Viehzucht in Großbritannien in römischer Zeit behandelt, mit besonderem Schwerpunkt auf den Übergängen von der Eisenzeit zur Römerzeit und von letzterer zum Frühmittelalter. Durch die Analyse dieser chronologischen Schwellen am Anfang und am Ende der Phase des römischen Einflusses in der Provinz Britannia wird versucht, auf der Basis von Fallstudien vor allem aus Südostengland und unter Berücksichtigung der Schlachtspuren und morphometrischen Angaben, die Kerneigenschaften der romano-britischen Viehzucht zu bestimmen. Das Ziel dieser Untersuchung ist, die Dynamik der romano-britischen Tierhaltung zu verdeutlichen. Diese Kräfte sind für wesentliche Veränderungen in der Tierhaltung am Anfang, am Ende und auch während der Römerzeit verantwortlich. Solche Veränderungen sind wahrscheinlich im Rahmen von Wechselbeziehungen zwischen verschiedenen kulturellen und sozialen Traditionen entstanden. Sie sind mit einheimischen und fremden Einflüssen verbunden aber auch mit einer Vielfalt von anderen Ursachen, unter allem ethnische, umweltliche, geografische, politische und wirtschaftliche Gegebenheiten. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

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