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Thesis of Delphine Frémondeau

by Christine LEFEVRE - published on

Sujet de thèse : Seasonal rhythms of archaeological pig husbandry: proposition for a protocol of stable isotope analysis of archaeological remains. Thèse soutenue le 20 septembre 2012.

Doctorat du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle.

- Frémondeau Delphine
Directrice de thèse : M. Balasse
Contact :

Composition du jury :

M. Jean-Denis Vigne, Directeur de Recherche, CNRS/MNHN, Paris, Président

Mme Paola Iacumin, Professeure, Università degli Studi di Parma, Parme, Rapportrice

M. Wim Van Neer, Professeur, Institut royal des Sciences naturelles, Bruxelles, Rapporteur

M. Anton Ervynck, Chargé de Recherche, Vlaams Instituut voor het Onroerend Erfgoed, Bruxelles, Examinateur

Mme Marie-Pierre Horard-Herbin, Maître de Conférences, Université François Rabelais, Tours, Examinatrice

Mme Rhiannon Stevens, Lecturer, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Examinatrice

Mme Anne Tresset, Directrice de Recherche, CNRS/MNHN, Paris, Examinatrice

Mme Marie Balasse, Chargée de Recherche, CNRS/MNHN, Paris, Directrice de thèse

Abstract :

The objective of this research is to propose a protocol of stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ18O, δ15N) allowing the investigation of the seasonal rhythms of archaeological pig husbandry, in terms of reproduction and diet.

A modern reference data set, implying the sequential sampling of tooth enamel from wild and free-range domestic pigs from Corsica and cross-bred pigs from Romania was constituted, allowing the mapping of the isotopic signal record in the mandibular tooth row and the definition of a first sampling protocol. This protocol was then applied and improved through the study of two archaeological assemblages: the Celtic village of Levroux Les Arènes (Région Centre, France) and the Chalcolithic tell of Borduşani Popina (Ialomiţa department, Romania). Thus, birth seasonality (and season) can be assessed through the sequential sampling (δ18O) of the two first incisors (otherwise the third molar). Male evergrowing canine is the best tooth to study diet seasonality through the serial analysis of enamel stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios and dentine stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios.

Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) was also recorded on the populations of the reference data set. A new way of studying the distribution of LEH on the molar crowns is proposed, which eases the interpretation of LEH distribution in terms of seasonality. This method was applied on three archaeological assemblages: Levroux Les Arènes, Borduşani Popina and the Chalcolithic site of Hârşova-tell (Constanţa department, Romania). The construction of the mortality profiles of the swine from these two sites gave the opportunity to compare two different ageing methods that enable the definition of fine age classes (Higham, 1967/Rowley-Conwy, 1993 et Horard-Herbin, 1997).

Key words : archaeological pig husbandry; modern reference data set; oxygen, carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes; linear enamel hypoplasia; kill-off patterns; season and seasonality of births; diet; Levroux Les Arènes; Borduşani Popina; Hârşova-tell