Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: An isotopic investigation into calving seasonality, diet and dairying in British prehistoric cattle : reconstructing animal husbandry at a sub-annual resolution using multi-isotope analysis and intra-tooth sampling
Author: Towers, Jacqueline Ruth
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2013
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The detection of dairying is essential to understand prehistoric economies, particularly in northwest Europe, where a high degree of lactose tolerance implies that fresh milk has long been a significant dietary component. Domestic cattle (Bos taurus) are biologically able to breed year-round, potentially enabling farmers to select a calving strategy to suit their economic focus. Published literature and interviews with farmers suggests that spring calving would have been favoured by economies focussed on meat or storable dairy products, whereas the year-round provision of fresh milk would have required two calving seasons, in spring and autumn, or an extended period through spring, summer and autumn. This thesis uses intra-tooth isotope ratio analysis of cattle tooth enamel to predict birth seasonality as an indicator of dairying. Analysis was performed on first, second and third cattle molars from the archaeological sites of Mine Howe, Pool and Earl’s Bu (Iron Age and Viking period Orkney), Old Scatness (Iron Age Shetland) and Grimes Graves (Bronze Age Norfolk). Modern molars from Chillingham Wild White cattle were also analysed. A new method to determine cattle birth seasonality has been proposed utilising the isotopic patterning (δ13C, δ18O) recorded within first and second molar enamel. Results suggest that birth seasonality estimates are of sufficient accuracy to discriminate between single-and multiple-season calving. Although Pool and Grimes Graves have been interpreted as dairying sites from their age-at-death slaughter patterns, birth seasonality predictions imply an economy focussed on year-round fresh milk at Pool but an emphasis on storable dairy products at Grimes Graves. In addition, it has been demonstrated that intra-tooth enamel data can provide information regarding sub-annual variation in diet and environment. A new method to investigate weaning strategy has also been proposed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Oxygen, carbon, strontium, enamel, collagen, Northern Isles, Grimes Graves, Chillingham