Bones from the labyrinth : faunal evidence for management and consumption of animals at Neolithic and Bronze Age Knossos, Crete
Animals feature extensively in the iconography and written records of Bronze Age Crete, and in archaeological debates ranging from initial colonisation in the 7th millennium BC, through expansion of settlement across the island in the 4th-3rd millennia, to surplus mobilisation and feasting by the 2nd millennium palaces. To date, however, faunal remains---the most widely available evidence for human use of animals---have been neglected: detailed reports of large assemblages are non-existent and faunal evidence features rarely in works of synthesis. This thesis undertakes a diachronic study of a large faunal assemblage from Knossos---the largest and longest-lived site on Crete. The faunal assemblage derives from different excavations and areas, enforcing careful evaluation of retrieval, modification by previous analysts, survival and, where archaeological information permits, contextual variation in discard behaviour. Attrition is lower in built-up than open areas through the 7-3 millennia, and very low in the suggested 'public/elite' core area of 2nd millennium Knossos. Butchery into big 'parcels' and subsequent dispersal of bones in the former period suggests reciprocal sharing, while intensive butchery and structured deposition in the latter suggest assymetrical feasts emphasising distribution of meat to participants. Butchery evidence also indicates rapid, wholesale adoption of metal in the 3rd millennium. Feral populations of pigs and perhaps goats may have caused introductions of deer to fail. Domesticates, predominant throughout, were managed for diverse products in the 7-4 millennia, including traction with cows. Increased adult and male survivorship in the 3rd millennium indicates potential specialisation in traction, wool and hair, but persistence of this pattern in the 2nd millennium 'public/elite core' also suggests demand for impressively large carcasses. Results of broad significance include reciprocal sharing, early traction with cows, rapid adoption of metal and linkage between feasting and secondary products management.