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Herd management and the social role of herding at Neolithic Çatalhőyűk: an investigation using oxygen isotope and dental microwear evidence in sheep

Henton, E.M.; (2011) Herd management and the social role of herding at Neolithic Çatalhőyűk: an investigation using oxygen isotope and dental microwear evidence in sheep. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Many Neolithic settlements in southwest Asia maintained economic dependence on domestic caprine herds over long periods. This thesis explores the success of sheep herding in one 1200 year-old Neolithic settlement – Çatalhöyük, Central Anatolia (7400 – 6200 cal. BC). The evidence from two datasets is used to expand knowledge of the seasonal management of domestic sheep herds and their food resources. Successful herding is measured in terms of being able to maintain good husbandry practices whilst meeting the needs of the settlement. Samples of archaeological sheep’s teeth from Çatalhöyük are used in two ways: sequential oxygen isotope values from a sheep’s second mandibular molar give seasonality evidence during the first year of a sheep’s life, and are used to establish the birth season and mobility patterns over the year. Dental microwear analysis of the same tooth’s occlusal surface provides evidence of the dietary regime in the last few weeks of that sheep’s life, and is used to distinguish the type and quality of diet before slaughter. Together, the data outline a life history for each sheep, and are used to reveal the pattern of herding control and food resource manipulation. Çatalhöyük is within the habitat of wild sheep, where palaeoenvironmental modelling suggests that domestic herd management could have proceeded in the wider landscape with minimal niche construction. However settlement demands, both economic and social, might have prompted more convenient solutions, reliant on more extensive niche construction in a more limited local environment. The herders’ ability, or commitment, to maintaining best husbandry practices is explored by bringing the ethology of sheep to an interpretation of how environmental possibilities might have been utilized.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Herd management and the social role of herding at Neolithic Çatalhőyűk: an investigation using oxygen isotope and dental microwear evidence in sheep
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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