Research student projects
Feeding the city: zooarchaeological perspectives on urban provisioning in post-medieval England (AD 1500-1900)
Animal bones are ubiquitous archaeological finds and their analysis can inform upon a range of past human activities including: diet and subsistence, craft and industry, religion/ritual and economic regimes. Despite this, the study of animal bones in British archaeology remains exclusive to the earlier periods, resulting in a lack of detailed analyses of faunal material from the post-medieval period. As a period that witnessed immense social and economic transformation there is a unique opportunity to use animal bones to understand the socio-economic repercussions of the changes in this era. Through integration of zooarchaeological and historical data, this research aims to reveal how human-animal relationships can inform upon: social status, livestock ‘improvement’ and food consumption behaviours in post-medieval England. By creating a database of faunal data and conducting primary analysis on post-medieval animal bones from Chester, this research hopes to enrich our understanding of the populations and evolution of our modern cities.
Towards the creation of a digital dataset amalgamating the entirety of zoaorchaeological assemblage data within a GIS platform
The research aims at creating a digital dataset using GIS applications that can encode the full complexities of zooarchaeological assemblage data across multi-scalar boundaries. The study will encapsulate empirical research on faunal assemblage data, in terms of methodological procedures from data acquisition to final digital output. Fundamentally I will be using statistics to characterise and amalgamate multi-variate assemblage data into a singular comparative dataset by using the principles of Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and correspondence analysis; to facilitate more flexible and fluid temporal and spatial examination. Once such a dataset is created the second main aim is to establish how GIS can visualise and analyse the multi-variate, multi-scalar datasets produced within spatial and temporal domains. This has huge significance for the progression of GIS within archaeology, particularly within zooarchaeology in terms of creating a more robust way of recording, analysing and disseminating faunal assemblages. GIS needs to be able to handle and analyse archaeological data in terms of complex spatial and temporal domains to fully exploit the research potential of GIS applications specific to the archaeological discipline. My research will investigate the analytical potential of multi-variate and multi-scalar data to determine its use within archaeology.
Diet and provisioning in Roman small towns: a case study from Ashton, Northamptonshire
This research focuses on the complex ideologies of food production, supply, and consumption in the Roman world through the primary analysis and interpretation of a substantial assemblage of animal bones from the Romano-British small town of Ashton in Northamptonshire. The complete excavation of one seventh of this small town presents a unique opportunity to explore fine-grained spatial and temporal patterns of diet and animal husbandry. Drawing together the results of this assemblage with anthropological theories connected to human-animal interactions, this research will disentangle the complex web of social and economic drivers that influenced stock raising, meat supply, and household consumption in Roman small towns.
The Extent of Anthropogenic Impact on Late Pleistocene Megafauna in Florida
At the end of the Pleistocene and beginning of the Holocene epochs, a major extinction event took place in the Americas. Beginning approximately 13,000 years ago, over 30 species of megafauna (animals weighing over 44kg) disappeared from North America. Florida sustained one of the most biologically-diverse megafaunal populations within North America. Yet, within a relatively short time span, most of Florida’s megafauna became extinct. However, this was not a local extirpation, as species of megafauna disappeared across the length and breadth of both North and South America during the same period of time. The principle theories for this particular major extinction event align with most theories put forth for earlier mass extinctions with one significant addition--human impact. Did the arrival of the first humans, also approximately 13,000 years ago, have something to do with these extinctions? Current theories involving anthropogenic impact include over-hunting, habitat disruption, and the introduction of disease. “Exogenous" theories that blame the extinctions on external events such as climate change or bolide impact are also topics for debate. However, at this time, inaccuracy in dating does not allow for specific causes such as first human interactions or particular climate events to be empirically substantiated. Therefore, this research will make no attempt to do so. Instead, this research will focus on the interaction between Florida’s first human inhabitants and native megafauna, in an attempt to ascertain just how much anthropogenic factors may have impacted Florida’s megafauna.
Role of Animal Based Subsistence among Carolina Algonkian Communities from the Late Woodland Period (A.D. 800 to 1585) through the Contact Period (1585-1650).
There have been no comprehensive zooarchaeological studies conducted on Carolina Algonkian archaeological assemblages despite decades of data collection for that purpose. The Carolina Algonkians were a sub-group of American Indians related to the maritime adapted Coastal Algonkians who were distributed along the east coast of North America from Canada to North Carolina. At the time of sixteenth-century European exploration in the region, Carolina Algonkian communities were arranged into a group of small hereditary chiefdoms. English accounts from the period described their subsistence strategies as heavily reliant on maize agriculture and placed minimal importance on the role of animal-based subsistence. These accounts and those that followed represent a terminal snapshot of Algonkian subsistence practices and are not representative of the entire 800-year sequence. The temporal bias of these early accounts and the lack of comprehensive studies have lead to confusion in our dietary reconstruction of the Carolina Algonkians. What were the food resources that contributed to the development, support, and decline of these chiefdoms? Were coastal environments alone, productive enough for the task? These are a few of the questions this research will attempt to address.
Upper Canada foodways: An analysis of faunal remains recovered from urban household and rural farmstead sites in the area of York (Toronto), AD 1794-1900.
The study of faunal remains recovered from North American historic period sites represents an increasingly popular subject of study. This project deals with the analysis of animal bones recovered through various CRM projects in southern Ontario. It represents an effort to provide a nuanced understanding of foodways and subsistence patterns in the city of York (now Toronto) for the period between AD 1794 and 1900. The project will provide a critical appraisal of food consumption and provisioning practices and their relationship with social identities throughout this period. Analyses will involve the comparison of urban household deposits to rural farmstead deposits alongside the integration of documentary sources.
Completed doctoral research projects:
Judith Porcasi: Subsistence in palaeocoastal California (2008)
Stephanie Vann: A generic recording system for animal palaeopathology (2008)
Matilda Holmes: Food and status in the Saxon and Scandinavian burhs (2011)
Brooklynne Fothergill: The bird of the next dawn: the husbandry, transformation and translocation of the turkey (2012)