1-s2.0-S1879981721000115-main.pdf (3.02 MB)
Download file

Refining the methods for identifying draught cattle in the archaeological record: Lessons from the semi-feral herd at Chillingham Park

Download (3.02 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2021, 15:38 by Richard Thomas, Lauren Bellis, Rebecca Gordon, Matilda Holmes, Niels N Johannsen, Meghann Mahoney, David Smith
Objective
This study--> provides a baseline of pathological and sub-pathological changes in the lower-limb bones of a semi-feral herd of domestic cattle. The purpose is to refine an existing method for identifying the use of cattle for traction using zooarchaeological evidence.

Methods
A published recording system for identifying draught cattle was applied to a sample of 15 individuals from Chillingham Park, Northumberland. Correlations were explored between individual pathological index values, the scores obtained for individual pathological/sub-pathological changes, and three biological variables: age, sex and body size.

Results
Pathological index values in the Chillingham cattle were low. Positive correlations between individual pathological index values and age, sex and body size were identified. Broadening of the distal metacarpal, proximal and distal exostoses in the metatarsal, distal exostoses of the proximal phalanx, and proximal lipping and exostoses of the distal phalanx, were strongly correlated with age.

Conclusions
Pathological index scores demonstrate that adaptive remodeling of the autopodia is low in a free-ranging population of cattle, supporting the view that more pronounced changes provide useful identifiers of traction use. Application of modified pathological index formulae to nine archaeological sites from England indicated that cattle were only intensively used for traction in the Roman and later medieval periods.

Significance
This study refines the methods used to identify traction in the archaeological record through the consideration of cows and a wider range of ages than has been considered previously.

Limitations
Only 15 individuals from the Chillingham herd were available for analysis.

Suggestions for further research
The refined formulae should be applied to additional archaeological datasets from different regions and time periods to explore the changing exploitation of cattle for traction.

Funding

The 'FeedSax' project, which is supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 741752.

History

Citation

International Journal of Paleopathology, Volume 33, June 2021, Pages 84-93

Author affiliation

School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

International Journal of Paleopathology

Volume

33

Pagination

84 - 93

Publisher

Elsevier BV

issn

1879-9817

Acceptance date

19/02/2021

Copyright date

2021

Available date

24/03/2021

Language

en