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Re-examining associated bone groups from southern England and Yorkshire, c4000BC to AD1550.

Morris, J. T., 2008. Re-examining associated bone groups from southern England and Yorkshire, c4000BC to AD1550. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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In recent years, zooarchaeology has started to move beyond purely economic interpretations towards a social zooarchaeology. In particular, these `social' interpretations have often concentrated upon Associated Bone Groups (ABGs), also referred to as `special animal deposits' or `animal burials', rather than upon the disarticulated and fragmented faunal remains more commonly recovered from archaeological sites. Previous studies of these ABG deposits have largely been limited to a single period and a small sample of sites. The majority of studies have also been concentrated on the Wessex region and have not examined in detail the osteological composition of these deposits. The purpose of this thesis is to move beyond these limitations. Therefore, it investigates the nature of ABGs from the Neolithic to the Medieval period for the contrasting regions of southern England and Yorkshire. This has been achieved by collecting detailed information for ABGB from publicly available sourcesa nd analysing it utilising modern database technology. Overall, data from 2,062 ABGs have been collected, 1,863 from the southern England region and 199 from Yorkshire. Although the majority of previous literature concerns Iron Age deposits, in fact the largest proportion of ABGB from both regions comes from Romano-British sites. Furthermore, their nature is highly variable within and between periods and regions. The previous interpretation of these deposits is also an important factor. Currently, ABG deposits from prehistoric and Romano-British contexts are commonly viewed as the results of ritual activities. I iowever, deposits of more recent date are more often considered to be the result of mundane actions. The review of previous literature shows that the interpretation of these deposits is changeable and linked to development in archaeological paradigms. This study collected data on ABGs published from the 1940's onwards, allowing these changes in interpretation to be tracked and, importantly, to review the links between the nature of the deposit and its interpretation. Results show that the interpretation of these deposits is influenced by key publications and current periodbased assumptions, with ritual interpretations often only given at a meta-level.F or example, Iron Age deposits are seen as `ritual', yet this does not provide information on the actions and the associated meaning and agenda which created them. This thesis shows that each ABG is unique, and to apply a meta-level interpretation to all ABGs, even from the same period, would be inaccurate and inappropriate. A biographical approach to the investigation of these deposits is developed, which leads to a more considered and informed view and can help us move away from a generalized interpretation. A biographical approach shows there is no standard type of ABG, which means there can be no standard interpretation. There are trends in the creation of ABGs, but each bone group is created by specific actions and it is the investigation of these individual events that moves us closer to the societies we wish to understand. This study has shown the value of not only utilising specialist data, but integrating such knowledge with other archaeological evidence. Use of this methodology will enable us to move beyond the perceived economic straightjacket towards a social zooarchacology.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Bournemouth University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:17781
Deposited On:16 May 2011 10:07
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:03


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