Romaniuk, Andrzej A, Shepherd, Alexandra N, Clarke, David V (Research Associate), Sheridan, J A, Fraser, Sheena, Bartosiewicz, László and Herman, Jeremy S (2016) Rodents: food or pests in Neolithic Orkney. Royal Society Open Science. ISSN 2054-5703

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Rodents have important effects on contemporary human societies, sometimes providing a source of food but more often as agricultural pests, or as vectors and reservoirs of disease. Skeletal remains of rodents are commonly found in archaeological assemblages from around the world, highlighting their potential importance to ancient human populations. However, there are few studies of the interactions between people and rodents at such sites and most of these are confined to locations where rodents have formed a part of the recent diet. Here we compare the accumulation pattern of rodent remains from four locations within and adjacent to the renowned Neolithic site of Skara Brae, Orkney, showing that those within the settlement itself were the result of deliberate human activity. The accumulation and nature of burnt bones, incorporated over an extended period within deposits of household waste, indicate that rodents were used as a nutritional resource and may have been the subject of early pest control. We, therefore, provide the first evidence for the exploitation or control of rodents by the Neolithic inhabitants of Europe.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rodentia, Microtus arvalis, archaeology, animal osteology, human subsistence
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Q Science > QL Zoology
Theme: Material culture: creation and use
Department: Natural Sciences
Scottish History and Archaeology (from 2012)
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ross Anderson
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 11:07
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2017 16:07

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