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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’.
The ‘Portus Project’ investigates the social and economic contexts of the maritime port of Imperial Rome. This article presents the results of analysis of plant, animal and human remains from the site, and evaluates their significance for the reconstruction of the diets and geographic origins of its inhabitants between the second and sixth centuries AD. Integrating this evidence with other material from the recent excavations, including ceramic data, the authors identify clear diachronic shifts in imported foods and diet that relate to the commercial and political changes following the breakdown of Roman control of the Mediterranean.
A combination of archaeological and palaeo-environmental field work in the Avon Levels, western England, has enabled a much better understanding to be reached of the complex Holocene sedimentation in this part of the Severn Estuary, and of the close relationship between the upper part of that sequence and opportunities for exploitation of this wetland region during the later prehistoric and Romano-British periods. This paper explores that relationship, focusing in particular on two Iron Age to Romano-British sites. Both sites, at Hallen and Northwick, appear to have been short-lived and only seasonally occupied in order to exploit rich grazing but this occupation took place at different times and within rather different patterns of land-use. The paper concludes with an outline model for the human use of the Avon Levels from the Neolithic to Romano-British periods.
Except for the interest aroused by their cemeteries, the extramural territories of the Roman cities of Britain have never aroused sufficient interest for them to have been subjected to systematic exploration. Nevertheless, as a sensitive barometer to chart their changing fortunes, the margins of a city have considerable potential, as Esmonde Cleary's review of the evidence from the cities and towns of Roman Britain amply demonstrated. Much of what we know derives from the results of adventitious rescue excavation carried out in the context of inter- and post-War city and town development, but comparatively little has emerged from greenfield sites like Calleva which have very largely escaped modern interference. Since the final season of the Society of Antiquaries’ excavation of Silchester in 1909 when attention focused on the ditches surrounding the town wall, only limited investigations have been made of the extramural territory of Calleva. Both Cotton and Boon excavated parts of the Outer Earthwork on the western side, but the evaluation of the defensive sequence was their principal objective, rather than an understanding of the extramural terrritory per se. That has had to wait for the systematic study of the aerial photography and material collected by field-walking which has given us a first glimpse of the organization and use of the extramural territory, and which has now been complemented by the publication of all the aerial photography from Silchester. The two types of survey have shown that the main axis of extramural activity is east-west along the roads leading to London and Cirencester/Bath. However, there is almost no aerial photography to illuminate our understanding of the north-south routes to Dorchester-on-Thames and Chichester/Winchester, although surface collection has revealed spreads of material extending over three hundred metres south of the South Gate through to trie fourth century.6 To the north, however, extensive semi-permanent pasture has hindered non-intrusive investigation and only the evidence of major structures such as the road to Dorchester, and elements of lanes and streets, have been evident from the aerial photography.
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