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Social Taphonomy: Agency, Biography and Chaîne Opératoire of Cattle Bones in a Mediaeval European City

Broderick, Lee G (2017) Social Taphonomy: Agency, Biography and Chaîne Opératoire of Cattle Bones in a Mediaeval European City. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This PhD sets out to tackle the subject of animal bone material from heterogeneous pits, especially on the edge of Mediaeval European cities. These are often the most common feature encountered by zooarchaeologists yet the analysis given them often does little to add to our understanding of the lives and actions of the people who lived and worked in the city, or of the city’s relationship with its region or hinterland. Chapter 1 reviews the approaches taken to answering some of these questions by zooarchaeologists in the past as well as outlining the history of taphonomic research as it applies to the question. Chapter 2 aims to provide context to current approaches to the subject through a brief overview of relevant urban history. Chapter 3 focuses on how zooarchaeologists have studied butchery, other carcass related products and their waste. This current approach is typified by a standard, or traditional, analysis of an assemblage from Princesshay, Exeter, South West Britain (a previously unstudied assemblage), in Chapter 4. The second half of the PhD takes a different tack. Having presented the status quo, chapter 5 looks at how similar questions from other allied branches of archaeology have been investigated. These conceptual models are used, in combination with the established approaches already identified, to propose a new model based on chaîne opératoire theory for analysing the flow of Mediaeval urban fauna material that make up the final assemblages of individual contexts. It is suggested that through an understanding of the Guilds, and therefore memes, of industry in the city (recognising the raw materials and wastes from the varied processes/trades), the animal bone data can provide further insights into society and the city from the same typical heterogeneous pits and ditches that ordinarily provide so little cheer for zooarchaeologists. In a short test-case, and again in chapter 6 with a large case study, the potential of this new model (using chaîne opératoire theory to inform interpretation of routinely recorded zooarchaeological information (including representation of particular body parts e.g. horns, ribs, vertebra, skulls, feet and modifications such as butchery evidence chop/cut/fracturing)), is explored by applying it to the same dataset from Mediaeval Exeter analysed in the first half of the PhD. The additional insights provided by the new model are then discussed. Employing this model in Princesshay suggests the development of a intricate system of trade specialisation and societal complexity between the earlier and later periods of Medieval Exeter in a more nuanced way than could be understood through the earlier analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Mr Lee G Broderick
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2019 10:14
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2019 10:14
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24489

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