Lucy Sladen (UCL) - 2018-19 Students

Changing Human-Animal Interactions in post-Roman Britain: Can We Detect Socio-Economic and Cultural Change?

The nature of transition from Roman Britain to early Medieval England is a long-standing debate in history and archaeology. Traditional interpretations of gradual Roman societal decline predominated until the early 1980s, shifting more recently to a concept of dramatic social collapse and identifiable discontinuity, with differing interpretations of the nature of regional-level change in Britain. While these socio-economic theories have been led by historical research, archaeologists are starting to play a more active role in the debate.

This project explores the nature of human-animal interactions in England between AD 350-650, synthesising data from hundreds of disparate published faunal assemblages for the first time. Data will be mined through a meta-analysis to inform on economic and social transition from Roman to early Medieval England at both regional and national levels.

The project will address these research questions:

  1. What roles did animals have within the economy, with emphasis on redistribution and mode of production?
  2. What is the nature of wild and domestic animal use at English settlement and funerary sites, with focus on temporal and regional trends?
  3. How were animals used socially and symbolically in terms of status and cosmology?

A wide-ranging analysis of faunal data for the period is vital for considering economic and social change in post-Roman England. This project aims to demonstrate how zooarchaeological material can reveal much more about human-animal interactions than simply what was being eaten.

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