Environmental Archaeology: The Journal of Human Palaeoecology. Coordinating Editor: Glynis Jones. Numbers 1 and 2 published in 1998 by Oxbow Books and the Association for Environmental Archaeology. Annual subscription rates: institutional 24; ordinary member 16; student member 8.

Reviewed by Zhichun Jing, Archaeometry Lab, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812 USA

 

This new journal is the replacement for Circaea, the Journal of the Association for Environmental Archaeology (AEA) distributed mainly in England. The first issue, published in 1998, was for 1996 subscribers to the AEA; and the second issue, also published in 1998, was for 1997 subscribers. This new journal is still not published regularly, which may make it very difficult to circulate widely, particularly outside Britain and other European countries. The lack of a journal for environmental archaeology has limited the airing of many studies in environmental archaeology to a very narrow audience. Hopefully, this new journal of Environmental Archaeology will act as a forum for not only British but also international scholarship in the field.

The first issue is subtitled Fodder: Archaeological, Historical and Ethnographic Studies, edited by Michael Charles, Paul Halstead, and Glynis Jones. It is a collection of papers presented to a symposium on The Archaeology of Fodder at the 1995 annual meeting of the Association of Environmental Archaeology in Sheffield, England. Most of the topics are devoted to the study of livestock feeding and its interactions with landscape and social changes. In its introduction an acclaim is made about the complementary use of different forms and classes of evidence, environmental versus cultural, on-site versus off-site, animal versus plant, macroscopic versus microscopic. But an emphasis remains heavily on the ethnographic observation and/or ethnoarchaeological study; only a few case studies involve the analyses of fodder-related material from archaeological context. However, this issue is indeed a timely attempt to summarize or introduce the approaches and methods in the study of archaeologically related fodder and its interrelationships with agricultural regimes and strategies.

Palmer illustrates the complex interactions between livestock holding and crop management for arable farmers in present day Jordan, and she emphasizes the interdependency of the factors that affect the decision-making in crop and animal husbandry. She demonstrates the utility of ethnographic observation in the interpretation of archaeological data. Using an example from Plikati, NW Greece, Halstead and Tierney also explore the potential of ethnographic observation of leafy hay collection and use in the interpretation of leaf-foddering evidence within archaeological contexts. Based on ethnographic evidence of crop processing, storage and use from the Island of Amorgos, Greece, Jones argues that the flexible boundary between food and fodder is of considerable significance to human survival and social differentiation as well as to the productivity in mixed farming economies. Anderson and Ertug-Yaras describe their ethnographic survey of modern dung fuel usage and botanical analyses of dung and fodder samples. Foxhall looks at the use of agricultural ‘waste’ products as fodder and the links between animal husbandry and agricultural residues in the early historical Mediterranean. Amorosi et al. use many lines of paleoecological evidence to address the role and nature of hay fodder in the farming economies of the Norse North Atlantic. The paleoecological sources considered in their discussion include animal bones, plant macroremains, invertebrate fauna, and pollen. Karg provides a case study of fodder pattern and animal diet using multiple forms of biological remains from the Bronze Age site of Fiave-Carera, northern Italy, including macroremains, pollen, twigs, and sheep/goat pellets. With particular reference to the charred plant remains recovered from the Bronze Age site of Abu Salabikh in southern Iraq, Charles explicitly discusses the taphonomy, recognition and interpretation of dung-derived material, and relates it to mobility and seasonality of livestock herding and the use of crop products and waste-products for animal as well as human consumption. Dental microwear analysis, the examination of microscopic tooth wear patterns, is a new technique to study livestock diet. Mainland’s discussion on dental microwear analysis is definitely a breath of fresh air. She describes the diet-related dental microwear features in modern domesticated sheep and goats and their implications in the reconstruction of ancient animal diet.

The second issue includes research papers, short contributions and book reviews covering a variety of subjects, such as fishing patterns, the impact of crop rotation on weed composition, the recording of archaeological insect remains and their preservation, and the organization of bird bone collection for zooarchaeological study. In a short review article, O’Connor discusses the definition and aims of environmental archaeology as a multidisciplinary science. Like many others, he sees the difference between North American and European perspectives on the practice of environmental archaeology. Biological emphasis seems to be distinctively European while the environmental archaeology in North America is more concerned with the physical environment. The European tendency to focus on plant and animal remains are well reflected in many of the contributions to the first two issues of Environmental Archaeology as well as its predecessor Circaea.