Toiling with teeth: an integrated dental analysis of sheep and cattle dentition in Iron Age and Viking–Late Norse Orkney

Mainland, I., Towers, J., Ewens, V., Davis, G., Montgomery, J., Batey, C., Card, N. and Downes, J. (2016) Toiling with teeth: an integrated dental analysis of sheep and cattle dentition in Iron Age and Viking–Late Norse Orkney. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 6, pp. 837-855. (doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.12.002)

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Abstract

A key goal for archaeozoology is to define and characterise pastoral farming strategies. In the last decade, some of the most innovative approaches for addressing these questions have centred on the mammalian dentition, including inter alia sequential sampling of stable isotopes, dental microwear analysis and the study of dental pathologies. It is when these techniques are integrated and combined with more traditional approaches, such as tooth eruption and wear, however, that their full potential is realised. In this article we demonstrate how such an integrated dental analysis combining isotopes, microwear, dental development, dental pathologies, tooth eruption and wear can be used to elucidate changing pastoral practices and their impacts on the landscape from the Iron Age and Viking-Late Norse periods in the North Atlantic islands, a period of significant socio-economic and cultural change in this region. Analysis focuses on two case study sites, Mine Howe, dating to the Atlantic Middle Iron Age (MIA) and the Earl's Bu, one of the residences of the Orkney Earl's from the 10th to 13/14th centuries AD. Each of the techniques applied to the sheep/goat and cattle dentition identifies clear differences between the two sites, in diet, in culling season, herd health and stress levels, all of which point to potential differences in underlying husbandry practices. These are related to wider socio-economic developments in Orkney at these periods, specifically increasing control of pastoral resources and economic production by North Atlantic elites in the MIA and the emergence of manorial estates in Late Norse/Early Medieval Scandinavia.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Batey, Dr Colleen
Authors: Mainland, I., Towers, J., Ewens, V., Davis, G., Montgomery, J., Batey, C., Card, N., and Downes, J.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publisher:Elsevier B.V.
ISSN:2352-409X
ISSN (Online):2352-409X
Published Online:28 December 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 6:837-855
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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