Des bestes médiévales aux espèces linnéennes : autour de la classification de quelques espèces en contexte castral au Moyen Âge

Aurélia BORVON & Charles VIAUT

fr Anthropozoologica 55 (10) - Pages 145-157

Published on 17 July 2020

This article is a part of the thematic issue Appréhender les catégories zoologiques dans les sociétés du passé

From medieval beasts to linnean species: around the classification of some species in castral context in the Middle Ages

The research currently conducted on several medieval castle sites in western France, in particular Talmont Castle (Vendée, France) and Thouars Castle (Deux-Sèvres, France), is being carried out in an interdisciplinary manner: the study of bone remains using archaeozoological methods makes it possible to highlight the wide variety of species consumed or used by humans for whatever reason. Wild animals, whether consumed or not, have thus received special attention. The study of feeding practices on these sites is also accompanied by a study of texts relating to animals, their breeding and consumption, whether they are accounts or documents of practice. These documentary sources, which in many cases make it possible to refine the understanding of the archaeological contexts and the economic and social functioning of castle sites, do not lend themselves to an exact comparison on one point: the consideration of the different species. If archaeozoology classifies bone remains according to the canons of contemporary biology, the documents of medieval practice show a discourse that is specific to them and that sometimes differs considerably from the logic of current science. The comparison of these two discourses at the site level allows us to highlight the differences in approach and to question our current interpretations of representations of the animal world in the Middle Ages.


Castle archaeology, archaeozoology, food history, cultural history.

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