Animalscapes and empire: new perspectives on the Iron Age/Romano British transition

Allen, Martyn George (2011) Animalscapes and empire: new perspectives on the Iron Age/Romano British transition. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Human-animal relationships have long existed, across cultures, in many varied forms. The associations between the two are integral to the creation, form, use and perception of landscapes and environments. Despite this, animals are all too often absent from our views of ancient landscapes. Humans experience their diverse environments through a variety of media, and animals regularly play an important role in this type of exchange. Landscape archaeology commonly emphasises the influences of humanity upon the physical world. However, such engagement is rarely unilateral. Whether herding domesticated mammals, hunting quarry, or merely experiencing the range of fauna which populate the world, many of these interactions leave physical traces in the landscape: the form and location of settlements, enclosures, pathways, woodland, pasture, and meadows. Also, in more subtle ways, human and animal actors work together in performances through which people subconsciously generate their perceptions of landscape and environment. These physical and psychological animal landscapes have the potential to inform on human society and ideology. This thesis seeks to utilise zoo archaeological evidence to examine this concept. Animalscape research could be applied to any place or period but as a case study this project will explore, through animal bone analysis, how landscape and environment were used to negotiate cultural identity during the Iron Age/Romano-British transition, a pivotal but poorly understood period in British history.

Research focuses on a c.200 km2 area of land bordering the West Sussex coast. This is a complex and singular locale, encompassing a number of Iron Age and Romano-British sites - most notably the elite settlement at Fishbourne which originated in the late Iron Age and developed, towards the end of the 1st century AD, into the largest 'Roman-style' domestic building north of the Alps. The site has been excavated a number of times in different areas since its discovery in 1960 until 2002; the various investigations producing a large quantity of animal bone. Yet this has, until now however, only been subjected to piecemeal analysis. The full re-analysis of the Fishbourne faunal assemblage is central to this project. To place these new data in their wider context, existing animal bone information from all pertinent published and 'grey' zoo archaeological literature is synthesised. The resulting datasets allow for a detailed examination of animal landscapes across the Iron Age/Romano-British transition at three nested scales: site and context; hinterland/region; and, Empire.

Integrating the zooarchaeological data with evidence from landscape and environment studies, Iron Age/Roman archaeology, ancient history and, most importantly, social anthropology is key to this project. A new theoretical framework is adopted here, whereby animals are seen not simply as passive indicators of economy and environment but as active beings, providing visual, audio and physical experience, and it is through these novel approaches by considering the human-animal-landscape relationship, that a new insight into the cultural changes of the Iron Age to Romano-British transition will be obtained.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Bowden, W.
Sykes, N.J.
Subjects: C Auxiliary sciences of history > CC Archaeology
D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 13204
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2013 12:33
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 12:00

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