The use-specific and social-topographical differences in the composition of animal species found in the Roman city of Augusta Raurica (Switzerland)


en Anthropozoologica 25-26 - Pages 487-494

Published on 01 June 1998

The Roman colonial city of Augusta Raurica ( around 15 BC to the 4th century) is used to illustrate the possibility of a social-topographical and use-specific division based on the findings of animal bones. ln particular, the most recent osteological findings from the excavations of insulae 1 and 2 ( Kastelen, 1991-93) are presented and their place within the overall evolution of Augusta Raurica is analyzed; specifically an early Roman complex (AD 20-70) as well as a later Roman complex (AD 270-320) are concerned. A typical pattern of distribution showed complexes containing a large proportion of pigs (combined with a high proportion of poultry and wild animals) on one hand and a small amount of cattle on the other which indicates better residential sections and with it the socially more privileged groups of the population. Areas with more cattle suggest sections with mixed functions ( residential/small trade/handcraft) or areas with a more public character ( e.g. taverns). Cattle were primarily used as working animals and provided inferior quality meat, as opposed to pigs which were often slaughtered in the earlier stages of growth. Information from books on Roman eating habits confirms a preference for pork. Over time, changes in the spectrum of animal species can be seen. These may have been related to the political and economic situation of the individual times.

Keywords :

Roman, domesticated animals, animal bones, nutrition, social topography.

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