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Title: An odontological study of ovicaprine herding strategies in the North Atlantic islands : the potential of dental enamel defects for identifying secondary product utilisation in an archaeological context
Author: Ewens, Vicky Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 3228
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2010
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Recent debate concerning the suitability of mortality profile analysis for identifying secondary product utilisation within archaeozoological assemblages has prompted the search for alternative methodologies. This research explores the potential of using weaning age to provide insight into herding strategies in ovicaprines, determined through the prevalence of developmental enamel defects. A histological methodology was developed, adapted to the specific nature of sheep molars through an understanding of formation processes and enamel structures. This established a relationship between weaning and developmental defects in modern sheep, revealed as distinct patterns in defect distribution within the enamel. Based on historical/archaeological data a weaning age model was developed for the North Atlantic region by which herding strategies could be recognised, specifically: mixed milk/meat subsistence, with an emphasis on milk (0-2 months) or on meat (2-4 months), and the optimisation of meat and/or wool (4-6 months). This methodology was then tested on archaeological material to interpret husbandry at Iron Age and Norse/Viking period sites. The results of this analysis showed that interpretations were in general agreement with those of mortality profile and correspondence analysis conducted as a methodological comparative. Some disparity, however, highlighted the ability of this new technique to provide more sensitivity in cases of mixed subsistence systems, possibly identifying the economic focus of husbandry, or where mortality profiles are confused. It was concluded that the study of weaning age has potential to provide valuable insight into ovicaprine husbandry in archaeological contexts, adding to the understanding of faunal assemblages, especially when supported with other evidence.
Supervisor: Mainland, Ingrid Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ovicaprine ; Hypoplasia ; North Atlantic ; Husbandry ; Dental defects ; Molars ; Mortality profiles ; Archaeozoology ; Sheep molars