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Preliminary ethnoarchaeological research on modern animal husbandry in Bestansur, Iraqi Kurdistan: integrating animal, plant and environmental data

Elliott, S., Bendrey, R., Whitlam, J., Aziz, K. R. and Evans, J. (2015) Preliminary ethnoarchaeological research on modern animal husbandry in Bestansur, Iraqi Kurdistan: integrating animal, plant and environmental data. Environmental Archaeology: the Journal of Human Palaeoecology, 20 (3). pp. 283-303. ISSN 1461-4103

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1179/1749631414Y.0000000025

Abstract/Summary

This paper presents preliminary results from an ethnoarchaeological study of animal husbandry in the modern village of Bestansur, situated in the lower Zagros Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. This research explores how modern families use and manage their livestock within the local landscape and identifies traces of this use. The aim is to provide the groundwork for future archaeological investigations focusing on the nearby Neolithic site of Bestansur. This is based on the premise that modern behaviours can suggest testable patterns for past practices within the same functional and ecological domains. Semi-structured interviews conducted with villagers from several households provided large amounts of information on modern behaviours that helped direct data collection, and which also illustrate notable shifts in practices and use of the local landscape over time. Strontium isotope analysis of modern plant material demonstrates that a measurable variation exists between the alluvial floodplain and the lower foothills, while analysis of modern dung samples shows clear variation between sheep/goat and cow dung, in terms of numbers of faecal spherulites. These results are specific to the local environment of Bestansur and can be used for evaluating and contextualising archaeological evidence as well as providing modern reference material for comparative purposes.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:39956
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ethnoarchaeology, Animal husbandry, Farming, Stable isotope analysis, Herbivore dung, Iraqi Kurdistan
Publisher:Maney Publishing

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