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Title: The economic, social and environmental implications of faunal remains from the Bronze Age copper mines at Great Orme, North Wales
Author: James, Sian Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2732 4742
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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Metal mining sites are usually treated as only being able to inform about economic and social activities through remains directly linked to mining and smelting processes, such as ores, slags and residues. On the other hand, the investigation of faunal remains from British Bronze Age sites has largely been focussed on assemblages from midden deposits near large, well-documented earthwork structures, usually from southern or highland zones. There has been a failure to appreciate that there was a reflexive relationship between trade and exchange of metal, animal husbandry practices and social mobility and organisation. This thesis uses the faunal assemblage from the Great Orme Copper Mines to display the potential for learning and integrated study of this major resource area. A summary has been made of investigations into Bronze Age mining sites from the northern hemisphere to better understand the current situation with regard to assemblages and studies. The paucity of faunal remains, or studies thereof, from mining or other Early to Middle Bronze Age contexts within Britain highlights the significance of this study to the archaeological dataset for this period. The suitability of the site was tested by sieving experiments and sampling remains from all areas. Over sixteen thousand fragments were analysed in this thesis and used to identify the specific practices of consumption, use as tools and deposition that occurred within the mining context. Bone tools were a particularly important part in this assemblage and were investigated through experimental archaeology, statistical analysis and comparison to other mining sites. Fragmentation of remains, although not originally seen as significant, was a key concern at the site so practical and ritualistic explanations were sought to explain this phenomenum. Moreover, the original plan to investigate seasonality through the remains proved impossible due to the lack of indicative elements and species. This thesis has found that the form of faunal remams brought to the site was ultimately bound up in the ore extraction processes that took place there. Around two thousand tonnes of copper is estimated to have been extracted from the Great Orme in prehistory making it a major contributor to metal production and society during the Bronze Age. This study has shown that deposits at the site were standardised from the Early to Mid Bronze Age which subsequently challenges views that activity may have been piecemeal and disorganised. Key recommendations made as a result of this study include some site specific suggestions, the integration of faunal remain analysis into mining investigations using the methodology outlined by this thesis and better dissemination of results to aid comparative studies. This study has shown the benefits of examining mining sites through a different medium. This approach riot only enables better understanding of mining systems, it allows for consideration of social, economic and ideological choices expressed within the Bronze Age landscape.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available