Palaeopathology in archaeological faunal remains : a new approach
Gross pathological lesions have been noted in the literature on non-human archaeological animal remains since the mid 19th century. In the last 20 years the accumulation of research into human skeletal remains has engendered a dynamic palaeopathological science producing highly valid in sights into the condition of people of antiquity. These advances in the understanding of osteological abnormality have, however, been seen to be of limited application to animal bone because of the nature of the primary material. The data on which the discipline of palaeopathology relies is derived from the burial of bodies. The remains available to the archaeozoologist are predominantly the highly selected residues of human consumption. The biological principles governing the presentation of pathological lesions are, however, consistent. This thesis therefore seeks to explore the potential for understanding and quantifying pathology in animal remains, basing the research on the concept of treating the assemblage as the fundamental body of evidence. An essential precept of this approach is to demonstrate the incidence of certa in selected pathologies within natural populations of specified mammals, and to define this incidence within the comparative material in a manner which is applicable to fragmentary archaeological remains. The potential indicated by the work on defined populations is then explored within actual archaeological assemblages. The sub-families selected for this thesis are the Caninae and the Bovidae, represented here by the genera Canis, Vulpes and Ovis, with a restricted contribution from Bos in the archaeological case studies. The retrievable pathological data from both comparative and archaeological sources is described and quantified, and the implications discussed. The result ssuggest that, for each species under consideration, pathology should be regarded as a quantifiable variable within the assemblage. Consequently, it is demonstrated that a pathological profile may be a practical method of assessing the range of extrinsic stresses imposed on, and experienced by, the animals represented within the archaeological assemblage.