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Reprint of: Urban medieval and post-medieval zooarchaeology in the Basque Country: Meat supply and consumption

Grau-Sologestoa, Idoia, Albarella, Umberto, Quirós Castillo, Juan Antonio
Quaternary international 2017 v.460 pp. 74-85
diet, economic systems, international trade, livestock, livestock breeding, meat, ownership, socioeconomics, taxes, towns
This paper examines the zooarchaeological evidence from six Basque towns (Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Salvatierra–Agurain, Balmaseda, Orduña and Durango), and compares it with historical written sources. The key aims are a better understanding of urban diet, the provisioning of meat to towns, and the relationship between town and country, in the 12th–18th centuries. Taxonomic frequencies, kill-off patterns, butchery practices and biometrical data are examined in a diachronic perspective. The results reveal that, although there are some signs of economic specialization, patterns of urban consumption remained fairly stable. It is suggested that the strict taxation and legislation for meat supply and the ownership of livestock by urban elites meant that urban demand for meat was too tightly regulated to bring about substantial changes in the mechanisms of livestock breeding and supply. The economic system appears to have mainly been geared towards the socio-economic needs of the countryside, despite the central role of some of the Basque towns in international trade.