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One for the master and one for the dame: Stable isotope investigations of Iron Age animal husbandry in the Danebury Environs

Stevens, RE; Lightfoot, E; Hamilton, J; Cunliffe, BW; Hedges, REM; (2013) One for the master and one for the dame: Stable isotope investigations of Iron Age animal husbandry in the Danebury Environs. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences , 5 (2) pp. 95-109. 10.1007/s12520-012-0114-3.

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Abstract

Stevens et al. (Oxford J Archaeol 29: 407-428, 2010) speculated that the extensive faunal intra-population isotopic variability at Danebury hillfort was due to the animals being husbanded within various ecological isozones (i.e. microenvironments with distinct natural or anthropogenic isotopic baselines) within the Danebury Environs, and subsequently brought to the hillfort. We test this hypothesis through isotopic analysis of 357 animals from five sites in the Danebury Environs (Suddern Farm, Nettlebank Copse, Houghton Down, New Buildings, Bury Hill). Our results demonstrate that the hypothesis is incorrect as the Environs animals also exhibited extensive intra-site isotopic variability. The observed patterns require considerable human management of herds and flocks, either through animal droving over long distances, or movement restriction through personal attendance or penning/corralling within a landscape containing a mosaic of isozones. Large-scale importation of animals to the Danebury sites from distant regions that have different isotopic baseline values is possible. However, the practical requirements of this model (i.e. long distance trade networks maintained in terms of frequency, proportion and source of animals over 500 years) make this improbable. Rather, we propose a model that includes distinct ecological isozones within the Danebury Environs landscape, with some animals from each of the sites consuming foodstuff from different isozones for most of their lives. This likely involves control of the landscape on a communal probably kinship basis, with individuals having access to certain parts of the landscape at certain times. The landscape could be seen as being made up of numerous interlocking activity-territories, defined in both space and time, remembered and inherited. Irrespective of which model proves to be the most accurate, these results paint a picture of complex land management during the Iron Age. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Type: Article
Title: One for the master and one for the dame: Stable isotope investigations of Iron Age animal husbandry in the Danebury Environs
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-012-0114-3
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology
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URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1463268
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