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The transition from late antiquity to early Middle Ages in Italy. A zooarchaeological perspective

Salvadori, Frank
Quaternary international 2019 v.499 pp. 35-48
breeding, cattle, data collection, economic systems, goats, marine fish, trade, Italy
The aim of this paper is to address the issue of the Transition in Italy proposing some thoughts about the possible links between economy, trade and animals. Connections that could be in some way explained by using zooarchaeological finds as a narrative source.More properly this is a sort of notes for research agenda, arisen from an heterogeneous national panorama, represented by more than seven hundred and sixty thousand fragments, recovered in nearly four hundred different archaeological contexts, analysed in Italy since the seventies until today.To this national sample have been applied analysis according to different kind of data, trying to assess two main orders of information: 1) the diachronic changes of the proportional incidence of the main livestock taxa (Cattle, Caprine and Pig); 2) the frequencies of the sites, within specific temporal ranges, where some particular taxa and ecological groups were found (like salt-water fish, exotic animals, wild species in urban layers).The results obtained with this quantitative methodological approach, allow to propose some working hypothesis concerning breeding, fishing, hunting, growing and decline of trade, alimentary practice, diseases, play and some other anthropic behaviour.After forty years of archaeozoological research in Italy, it seems that there are several evidences that display a transformation in human-animals interactions between the end of antiquity and the beginning of Middle Ages.According to the data collected up to now, Early Middle Ages seems as a long period marked by an economic system enclosed between two economic set-ups: the Late Antiquity and the low/late medieval. These two ages, as animals remains reveal, show instead some deep similarities.