Archaeozoological evidence for equid use, sex structure and mortality in a Roman auxiliary fort (Carnuntum-Petronell, lower Austria)

Günther Karl KUNST

en Anthropozoologica 31 - Pages 109-118

Published on 01 December 2000

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animal management and demography through the ages

A séries of skeletons and cranial remains of horses and mules from the Roman auxiliary fort Carnuntum (Lower Austria, Roman province of Pannonia) allows a detailed investigation of metrical traits, age and sex structure and pathological phenomena. This rather unique situation is due to opportuniste human behaviour, as ditches and pits in the foreland of the fort were used for the dumping of animal carcasses. The bone sample exhibits a high degree of selectivity regarding sex and size for both horses and mules: only male specimens are present, and the size range covers the upper part of the known variability for the period and region given. As for the age structure, the majority of the horses belongs to the age group of young adults (5-9 years), a situation known from other Roman military contexts The skeletons and other equid bones are interpreted as the remains of "normal" losses, probably due to all kinds of diseases or injuries, which occurred during their use as ride or pack animals. Some pathological features are evidenced by the bone remains themselves. The scarcity ot aged horses can be explained either by quick turnover or by the disposal of the animals into different economic circumstances.


Equid remains, Roman Period, Lower Austria, Auxiliary fort, Age structure.

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