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Les relations homme-animal dans le monde des vivants et des morts. Étude archéozoologique des établissements et des regroupements funéraires ruraux de l’Arc jurassien et de la Plaine d’Alsace, de la fin de l’Antiquité tardive au premier Moyen Âge.

Olivier Putelat 1
1 Archéologies environnementales
ArScAn - Archéologies et Sciences de l'Antiquité
Abstract : This archaeozoological study focuses on human-animal relations, from late antiquity (mid 3rd c.), until the end of the early Middle Ages (11th c.). It concentrates on the Jura Mountains and the plain of Alsace. These two neighboring geographic regions were communication corridors and riverine zones (Doubs, Saône, Rhône, Rhine), which belonged to different kingdoms and were inhabited by culturally distinct populations. Three inputs are used to analyze the osteological data: rural domestic contexts, rural funerary contexts, and mortality of cattle. - The first chapter presents the issue at hand, the physical, chronological and methodological data of the interregional research program (eastern France, western Switzerland, southern Germany). - Chapter 2 considers 64 settlement sites and distinguishes them geographically, environmentally and socially. Approximately 146,000 identified bone remains for 87 taxa are assessed. Elements of synthesis are presented, regarding in particular evidence for food, livestock and hunting. - Chapter 3 considers 30 cemeteries containing animal bones. Symbolic objects, animal skeletons and grave goods are discussed and the findings are compared with other known sites within Gaul and the Germanic sphere. - Chapter 4 is based on the study of cattle skeletons discovered at three different but closely situated sites. Whether these bovine graves evidence infectious disease mortality events is discussed. These burials are compared with similar cases from early medieval France and also discussed in relation to the written evidence for animal mortality events in the Middle Ages. - Chapter 5 presents a general synthesis of the results of the thesis, in regards to contexts and animal categories. - Appendices and lists of additional data follow. Chapter 2, an archaeozoological study of animal bones from domestic waste deposits, presents a range of new data and assesses, in particular, multiple environmental, geographical and cultural aspects. The material studied illuminates different feeding practices (subsistence strategies) between the Rhine plain "Alaman-Frank" area (sometimes hydromorphic) and the semi-mountain Jura "Roman-Burgundian" area. Within the Jura area itself multiple strategies were employed and it is necessary to distinguish between North Jura "Rhenish" and Jura "Saône-Rhône." The consumption of caprids (mainly sheep) was significantly higher in the early Middle Ages in most of the Jura area than in the Alsace Plain. Beef was more common, however, in Alsace Plain as well as in the North of the study area. Multiple factors account for this: southern socio-economic and cultural factors influenced the Jura area and northern socio-economic and cultural factors influenced the Rhine plain. The study confirmed the important place that pork had in the diet of elite populations. Poultry also played a significant role in the diet of elites, though to a lesser extent. In the southernmost part of the study area, the same can be said for caprids. Identifying the slaughter age of domestic animals provided a means for establishing consumption patterns of young animals (which give higher quality meats) as well as the economic value of animals and the choice to kill and consume unfit, possibly sick, individuals. Finally, sediment sieving allowed us to characterise the place held by eggs and fish in the human diet. We report here wild species (archaeozoologically determined) in the Upper Rhine and the Jura areas. The species hunted most commonly were hare, deer and wild boar. Venison represented a small portion of the meat consumed. The proportion of bones belonging to wild species, like evidence identifying the variety of species hunted, provides good information for establishing social setting. The example of Ostheim "Birgelsgaerten" (F, Bas-Rhin) is particularly revealing. The discovery there of several deer, elk, bison, auroch and wild boar bones allowed us to assign these remains to aristocratic hunting, a practice documented in early medieval written sources. For this period in France and in Switzerland, these finds are unprecedented in the field of archaeozoology. Genetic analyses were employed to formally identify the Ostheim bison. Genetic tests, however, did not agree with our morphological determination of the auroch bones. Isotopic analyses allowed for the definition of the diet of wild bovines and large deer in the research area. Chapter 3 assesses funerary sites and using archaeological data discusses, in particular, the custom of burying pets. Our results show how complex the issue is of domesticated carnivore deposits. We also present here the only known double equine grave in French and Swiss territory (the necropolis of Odratzheim, Bas-Rhin). This finding is considered alongside other double-horse graves of Germanic origin discovered north of the Rhine and the Danube. Animal bone objects (antlers artifacts) were found often in tombs. Some of them have been summarised here. The geographical origin of a beaver astragalus (ankle bone) worn as a pendant was determined allogeneically. There is evidence that this practice originated in Finnish-Baltic or Finnish-Ugric regions. The presence of numerous food offerings is a common feature of Alsatian Merovingian cemeteries. Species most commonly offered were chicken (often with eggs) and pig. It was valuable to compare these food offerings with the nutrition of the living population for whom chickens and pigs were synonymous with quality food. Venison food offerings were exceedingly rare. In the early Middle Ages, the custom of food offerings is a feature of Germanic influence. Food offerings are much more numerous to the north of the Rhine and Danube, and in the "Alaman-Frank" population from the Rhine area than in "Roman-Burgundian" population of the Jura area. Moreover, it is suggested here that these offerings were more common in populations not or only partly Christianised. Research on (non Funeral) deposits of cattle carcasses and animal mortality (Chapter 4) has provided much information. It was possible to distinguish morphological characteristics of regional early medieval cattle and, above all, to demonstrate the health and economic consequences of serious disease episodes. We have argued that some cattle deposits (9th-12th c.) are probably related to enzootic or epizootic events. It is clear that bovine mortality increased significantly in our part of Europe from the Carolingian period. However Alsace seems less affected by these diseases than the region of the "Porte de Bourgogne". It is emphasised that systematic archaeozoological analysis of animal skeletons, greater use of radiocarbon dating (to be situate remains in their proper European context) and palaeogenetic tests are needed to improve paleopathological research. Absolute ages of animals (cattle, caprids, pigs) have been estimated in accordance with teeth wear. Correspondence tables between relative ages and absolute ages are proposed in the methodology section (Chapter 1). The assessment of the double equine tomb at Odratzheim allowed for a summary of the morphology of Merovingian horses in the research area. These horses also provided osteometrical data (Chapter 5). The determination of ‘hybrid equines’ (mules) was attempted by morphological criteria, but also by multivariate analysis. Hundreds of different horses are taken into account. The mule is shown to have been common in the early medieval Jura area. In conclusion, this archaeozoological study provides diverse reflections about human-animal relationships between the Rhine and the ‘Saône-Rhône’ areas, between late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. It lays the foundation for new regional perspectives and facilitates the interdisciplinary use of archaeozoological data.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 2, 2016 - 11:31:21 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 3:48:04 PM
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Olivier Putelat. Les relations homme-animal dans le monde des vivants et des morts. Étude archéozoologique des établissements et des regroupements funéraires ruraux de l’Arc jurassien et de la Plaine d’Alsace, de la fin de l’Antiquité tardive au premier Moyen Âge.. Archéologie et Préhistoire. Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2015. Français. ⟨tel-01325443⟩



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