The publication of this group of three papers form part of the 1987 meeting of the International Council for Archaeozoologists Fish Remains Working Group which took place at the University of York, U. K. The papers illustrate an increased awareness of the significance of ichthyological research to archaeology and cover three areas of research: taphonomy; fishing artefacts; and fish remains recovered from an excavation.
Jones sheds some light on the relative robustness of the bewildering array of elements in a fish skeleton by recording damage to a skeleton when it is trampled. His paper suggests an index of robustness which might be used to assess the degree of fragmentation in archaeological assemblages.
Kemp reports on the excavation of a small medieval building located adjacent to medieval fish ponds created by Cistercian monks in North Yorkshire, England. In addition to the structural evidence, an impressive assemblage of weights, presumably net weights, found on or near the site is published. Perhaps most significant is a large lead weight which may have been used to weight catches of fish from the ponds.
Fish remains recovered from two excavations at the quayside at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England are discussed by Nicholson. Around 6000 identified bones form the basis for the study, the majority of which were identified as Gadid (cod family) or herring. While the main food fishes typify fish bone assemblages from most post-Roman urban archaeological sites, the identification of small fishes such as sandeels, smelt, gobies and buttefish may indicate the utilisation of fish not nowadays considered as food at all. Given the diversity of species (30 individual species identified) it is suggested that the remains from the main bone-producing organic horizons, dated to the late twelfth to thirteenth centuries, may include discard from a nearby fishmarket.
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Other papers from the 1987 ICAZ conference can be found in Internet Archaeology issues 3 and 4.
* Dr Andrew K.G. Jones
York Archaeological Trust and the University of Bradford
tel: +44 1904 663000
fax: +44 1904 640029
** Rebecca A. Nicholson
Department of Archaeological Sciences University of Bradford
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Last updated: Thur Dec 16 1999