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A significant increase in agricultural production underpinned the many socioeconomic transformations that define first-millennium-BCE Italy. However, the farming regimes that underpinned this rise in surplus production, and its evolution through Republican times, are poorly defined. This lack of clarity is problematic, because cultivation and herding practices dictated the relative value of land versus labur. Without good archaeological data on this fundamental area of the Republican economy, we are ill-equipped to address central questions of land use, investment, and the motivation for territorial expansion in the Middle Republican period. This chapter argues for the importance of farming regimes as a force that shaped Roman social and economic history, and provides a first step towards an agroecology of the Roman expansion. It presents a new synthesis of archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological data integrated with wider evidence for agricultural processing and rural production. This analysis places bioarchaeological evidence for Republican farming in its peninsular context for the first time. Results indicate that production was motivated more by regional trajectories than by Roman annexation, and that rural settlement changes did not have a major immediate impact on the bioarchaeological data considered here. Lastly, we highlight key points of change alongside pathways for future research.
Little is known about the early history of the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), including the timing and circumstances of its introduction into new cultural environments. To evaluate its spatio-temporal spread across Eurasia and north-west Africa, the authors radiocarbon dated 23 chicken bones from presumed early contexts. Three-quarters returned dates later than those suggested by stratigraphy, indicating the importance of direct dating. The results indicate that chickens did not arrive in Europe until the first millennium BC. Moreover, a consistent time-lag between the introduction of chickens and their consumption by humans suggests that these animals were initially regarded as exotica and only several centuries later recognised as a source of ‘food’.
Domestic livestock were a crucial part of Mediterranean communities throughout later prehistory. In the first millennium BC, livestock mangement changed, and was changed by, the rise of cities in Italy. Italian prehistory has a rich zooarchaeological tradition, but investigation of the Iron Age has been regionally divided and synthetic works on the Po valley comparatively few. This article presents a pan-regional review of late prehistoric and protohistoric livestock exploitation that considers Northern and Central Italy together for the first time. Zooarchaeological comparison reveals an increase in the use of sheep/goat for secondary products, while cattle and caprines were subject to size changes that distinguish their management from that of pigs. A marked increase in pig husbandry is visible in both regions, but this shift took place earlier and more emphatically in Northern Etruscan centres than in Central Italy. After defining the main changes in animal management during the period under review, this article looks beyond population density to explore the wider environmental, economic, and cultural context of pork consumption and its relation to the development of urbanism in Etruria padana.