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The economy and environment of a Roman, late-Roman and early Byzantine town in north-central Bulgaria: the mammalian fauna from Nicopolis-ad-Istrum

Mark BEECH

en Anthropozoologica 25-26 - Pages 619-630

Published on 01 June 1998

This paper discusses the large domestic and wild mammal fauna recovered from the Roman, late-Roman and early Byzantine town of Nicopolis-ad-Istrum, located in north-central Bulgaria. More than 20,000 bone fragments were analysed, of which more than 8 000 were identifiable to the level of species. The major domestic species predominate, wild species only occurring
in relatively small numbers. The relative proportions of the major species appear to fluctuate between the different occupation periods at the site. During the mid-Roman (175-250 AD), late Roman (250-450 AD) and early Byzantine ( 450-600 AD) periods, the proportion of pigs generally increases through time whilst that of cattle decreases. Various suggestions are put
forward to explain the phenomenon of increased pig-keeping. The presence of camel (Camelus sp.) at the site is discussed, as well as an interesting find of a complete carapace of a spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) with a hale drilled through its suprocaudal plate. A comparison is made with other faunal assemblages in the surrounding region, which suggests that Nicopolis-ad-Istrum is somewhat unique in character.

Keywords :

Bulgaria, Late-Roman, Early Byzantine, fauna, economy, pigs

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