The political and financial crisis that brought about the collapse of the Roman Empire caused important historical and cultural changes at the Roman-Middle Ages transition. Bird bones recovered from archaeological sites may contribute to our understanding of this important historical process as they are part of the wider material culture of past human societies. They are particularly suited to reflect the complex network of economic, social, religious, political and domestic circumstances and behaviours which characterise past human communities.
The project will apply a much needed rigorous scientific approach to the study of bird remains from Italian and British archaeological sites dated to the Roman and Middle Ages periods. Questions such as the development of bird husbandry techniques, the relative importance of different species, their use in ritual activities and the association between birds, social status and environmental changes will be investigated. The research will expand the results of previous work using new zooarchaeological methods (diagnostic zone analysis, observation of butchery marks and biometric analysis), which, in conjunction with the written sources and historical components, will guarantee a holistic approach to the research questions.
The project will be particularly innovative in applying such interest to the historical period, to a relative neglected but very important cultural transition (i.e. Roman-medieval) and also by placing its main case studies - Roman and medieval Italy - in their European context.
The project will also represent an excellent example of how the barriers between research in humanities and science can be brought down to approach the evidence in a fully interdisciplinary mode. The project will provide evidence that is likely to be of long-lasting effect on research, both in terms of data and approaches, some of which will be entirely new for either or both the study areas.
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