The development of the exploitation of products from Capra and Ovis (meat, milk and fleece) from the PPNB to the Early Bronze in the northern Near East (8700 to 2000 BC cal.)

Daniel HELMER, Lionel GOURICHON & Emmanuelle VILA

en Anthropozoologica 42 (2) - Pages 41-70

Published on 31 December 2007

This article is a part of the thematic issue Acts of the ICAZ session (Mexico, August 2006). Herding practices and techniques: models and methodological tools for archaeozoological analysis

The identification of the exploitation of products from small domestic ruminants in prehistory is only possible through an archaeozoological and ethological approach, as each type of exploitation implies particular culling strategies. Thus by establishing mortality profiles it is possible to infer the products sought. The advances made in archaeozoological techniques for the interpretation of culling profiles and for the determination of the seasonality of animal husbandry practices have allowed us to interpret 49 culling profiles of Caprinae from the PPNB to the Early Bronze. These profiles are distributed among 24 sites, of which 5 are unpublished. The methods for age estimation to establish the culling profiles are those established by Helmer (1995, 2000a) and Vila (1998), and for the Ovis-Capra distinction, those of Helmer (2000b) and Halstead et al. (2002). The interpretations are based on statistics (Correspondence Analysis and Cluster Analysis), on economic and ethnological data and on the biological constraints of Caprinae. These interpretations reveal, among other elements, the main products used and the diachronic evolution of the exploitation of these various animal products. Thus the rate of exploitation of the tender meat of young animals, milk and fleece varies strongly: milk was exploited from the beginning of the middle PPNB, a major change in the exploitation of meat occurred at about 7000 BC cal. and, at the same time, the use of fleece can be evidenced (appearance of groups of consumers and of producers). In the Early Bronze Age, these practices intensified.


Caprinae, animal products, Near East, producers/consumers, 8700-2000 BC cal.

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