Mobility and management of cattle in Iron Age and Roman Netherlands

Mobility and management of cattle in Iron Age and Roman Netherlands
This research project aimed to study long-term developments in cattle management and mobility in the Netherlands, from the Iron Age to the Roman period (750 BC – AD 450). Cattle have always played a crucial role in this region, in supporting arable farming by traction and manure, in providing food in the form of meat and dairy products, and in providing raw materials for clothing and artefacts. Our understanding of cattle management could be improved enormously by an integrated study of traditional and newer methods of research.
The main objectives of the research project are:
• to investigate movements of cattle in the Iron Age, indicating exchange and/or raiding;
• to investigate movements of cattle in the Roman period, indicating import and/or local supply;
• to investigate whether the size increase of cattle in the Roman period was a direct result of the incorporation in the
Empire, or whether it should be seen as a continuation of developments that started in the Iron Age;
• to provide a comprehensive view of cattle management in the Iron Age and Roman period.
The objectives will be achieved through the applied methodology, which consists of three lines. First, through Strontium isotope analysis, the local or non-local origin of cattle can be established. Second, biometrical analysis will be used to investigate developments in shape and size over time. And third, mortality profiles offer insight into how cattle were exploited.
This project was funded by the ERC and was carried out at the University of Sheffield, collaborating with Prof. Umberto Albarella and Prof. Jane Evans (National Environmental Isotope Facility, British Geological Survey). The first publication resulting from the project is now out, but work on further publications is ongoing.


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