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Perinatal ovicaprine remains and evidence of shepherding activities in Early Holocene enclosure caves: El Mirador (Sierra De Atapuerca, Spain)

AuthorsMartín, Patricia; García-González, Ricardo ; Nadal, Jordi; Vergés, Josep Maria
Bronze Age
Issue Date2015
CitationQuaternary International (on-line first): (2015)
AbstractSheep and goats have been two of the most commonly bred species since the Early Neolithic in European contexts. Much research has been devoted to studying the economic management of these species through culling profile information. In particular, perinatal remains are one of the best indicators of breeding practices at archaeological sites. Nevertheless, remains from this age group, and especially fetal remains, have been largely ignored in archaeozoological studies. In the Neolithic (6th–4th millennium cal. BC) and Bronze Age (2nd millennium cal. BC) faunal assemblages from El Mirador cave (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain), perinatal remains make up 39% of the total ovicaprine assemblage (862 remains). Due to this relative abundance at El Mirador, we studied the remains of animals from this age group, distinguishing fetal remains from neonatal remains by means of anatomical and metric criteria. We found that in El Mirador cave fetal and neonatal remains were present on most levels. The fetal remains exhibit mortality ratios similar to current-day sheep flocks. Spontaneous abortion was probably caused by different non-human causes (diseases, stress, intoxication, etc.). The neonatal remains reflect mortality ratios that could be linked both to unintentional factors (diseases, weak lamb births, etc.) and to the human management of the flock.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.024
Appears in Collections:(IPE) Artículos
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