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Dead or alive?: investigating long-distance transport of live fallow deer and their body parts in antiquity

Miller, Holly; Carden, Ruth F.; Evans, Jane; Lamb, Angela L.; Madgwick, Richard; Osborne, David; Symmons, Robert; Sykes, Naomi


Assistant Professor in Zooarchaeology

Ruth F. Carden

Jane Evans

Angela L. Lamb

Richard Madgwick

David Osborne

Robert Symmons

Naomi Sykes


The extent to which breeding populations of fallow deer were established in Roman Europe has been obscured by the possibility that the skeletal remains of the species, in particular Dama foot bones and antlers, were traded over long distances as objects in their own right. This paper sets out to refine our understanding of the evidence for the transportation of living and dead fallow deer in Iron Age and Roman Europe. To achieve this, museum archives containing purportedly early examples of Dama antler were searched, with available specimens sampled for carbon, nitrogen and strontium isotope analyses, and compared with data for archaeological fallow deer from across Europe. Importantly, the resulting isotope values can be interpreted in light of new modern baseline data for fallow deer presented here. Together these multi-isotope results for modern and archaeological fallow deer provide a more critical perspective on the transportation of fallow deer and their body parts in antiquity.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 19, 2014
Online Publication Date Sep 18, 2014
Deposit Date Jul 24, 2018
Journal Environmental Archaeology
Print ISSN 1461-4103
Electronic ISSN 1749-6314
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 3
Keywords Roman Britain; Fallow deer; Damadama; Carbon isotopes; Nitrogen isotopes; Strontium isotopes
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