The impact of the Roman Empire on animal husbandry practices: study of the changes in cattle morphology in the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula through osteometric and ancient DNA analyses

Original Paper

Abstract

The change in cattle size during the late Iron Age and the Early Roman period is a widely known phenomenon. However, hardly any information is available about this change and its causes in the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula. In order to shed more light on this issue, variations of cattle size and shape through the analysis of Bos taurus remains from ten archaeological sites located in the north-east Iberia and occupied from the middle fifth century bc to the third century ad are examined in this paper. Osteometric postcranial and teeth analyses show a clear change in cattle size and shape during the Romanization period at newly founded sites. This change is documented at all the sites from the Early Roman period. Genetically, authenticated results from a short fragment of the mitochondrial d-loop were obtained from 6 cattle metacarpals out of 33 tested. They affiliate to the main European taurine haplogroup T/T3. The integration of the available data including the archaeological background suggests that the presence of these morphologically different cattle, introduced during the Romanization period, was more pronounced at sites interpreted as villas and trading posts, rather than at cities during the Early Roman period.

Keywords

Bos taurus Middle Iron Age Early Roman period Osteometry Ancient DNA Iberian Peninsula 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the different research teams that study the sites included in this paper for the information provided. We are grateful for all the comments from our colleagues and anonymous reviewer to help improve our manuscript. Many thanks go to B. Stopp for critical reading an earlier draft of the manuscript. Funding for this research has been provided within the framework of the projects HUM2007-65016/HIST and HA2010-0293-Programa Nacional de Movilidad de Recursos Humanos del Plan Nacional de I+D+i 2008–2011. This research has also been supported by “Projet de Groupement De Recherche Européen (GDRE), Bioarchaeological Investigations of the Interactions between Holocene Human Societies and their Environments”.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lídia Colominas
    • 1
    • 3
  • Angela Schlumbaum
    • 2
  • Maria Saña
    • 3
  1. 1.Mc Donald Institute for Archaeological ResearchUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Institute of Prehistory and Archaeological ScienceUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Laboratori d’Arqueozoologia, Departament de PrehistòriaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

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