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Beef, pork and mutton: An archaeological survey of meat consumption in medieval and postmedieval towns in the southern Low Countries (Flanders & Brussels, Belgium)

Ervynck, Anton, Van Neer, Wim
Quaternary international 2017 v.460 pp. 65-73
animal husbandry, beef, cattle, geographical variation, meat consumption, mutton, pork, sheep, socioeconomics, surveys, swine, towns, Belgium
A survey is presented of archaeozoological information from medieval and postmedieval towns in the southern Low Countries (the present regions of Flanders and Brussels, in Belgium). Diachronic changes in the consumption of the three main domestic meat-suppliers (cattle, pig, sheep) in nine towns are investigated, and trends are compared among these towns. At the same time, possible geographical differences in meat consumption are traced. The observed differences in time and space are then explained as part of the economics of animal husbandry and of the interaction between town and countryside. From a methodological standpoint, this survey demonstrates that in a number of cases, information from archaeozoological contexts with varying depositional histories, often reflecting different socio-economic strata, can be combined to obtain a picture of meat consumption, and thus of the town's food provisioning, through time.