Accessibility navigation


Season of birth and sheep husbandry in late Roman and Medieval coastal Flanders: a pilot study using tooth enamel d18O analysis

Buchan, M., Muldner, G., Ervynck, A. and Britton, K. (2016) Season of birth and sheep husbandry in late Roman and Medieval coastal Flanders: a pilot study using tooth enamel d18O analysis. Environmental Archaeology, 21 (3). pp. 260-270. ISSN 1749-6314

Full text not archived in this repository.

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1179/1749631414Y.0000000055

Abstract/Summary

From the early Roman period, there is archaeological evidence for the exploitation of the Flemish coastal plain (Belgium) for a range of activities, such as sheep herding on the then developing salt-marshes and salt-meadows for the production of wool. During the early Middle Ages, this culminated in the establishment of dedicated ‘sheep estates’. This phase of exploitation was followed by extensive drainage and land reclamation measures in the high Medieval period, transforming areas into grassland, suited for cattle breeding. As part of a larger project investigating the onset, intensification and final decline of sheep management in coastal Flanders in the historical period, this pilot study presents the results of sequential sampling and oxygen isotope analysis of a number of sheep teeth (M2, n = 8) from four late Roman and Medieval sites (dating from 4th to 15th century AD), in order to assess potential variations in season of birth between the different sites and through time. In comparison with published data from herds of known birth season, incremental enamel data from the Flemish sites are consistent with late winter/spring births, with the possibility of some instances of slightly earlier parturition. These findings suggest that manipulation of season of birth was not a feature of the sheep husbandry-based economies of early historic Flanders, further evidencing that wool production was the main purpose of contemporary sheep rearing in the region. Manipulation of season of birth is not likely to have afforded economic advantage in wool-centred economies, unlike in some milk- or meat-based regimes.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:39266
Publisher:Association for Environmental Archaeology

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation