PLoS ONE (Jan 2021)

Resilience and livestock adaptations to demographic growth and technological change: A diachronic perspective from the Late Bronze Age to Late Antiquity in NE Iberia.

  • Ariadna Nieto Espinet,
  • Thomas Huet,
  • Angela Trentacoste,
  • Silvia Guimarães,
  • Hector Orengo,
  • Silvia Valenzuela-Lamas

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 2
p. e0246201


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There are strong interactions between an economic system and its ecological context. In this sense, livestock have been an integral part of human economies since the Neolithic, contributing significantly to the creation and maintenance of agricultural anthropized landscapes. For this reason, in the frame of the ERC-StG project 'ZooMWest' we collected and analyzed thousands of zooarchaeological data from NE Iberia. By considering these data in comparison with ecological indicators (archaeobotanical remains) and archaeological evidence (settlement characteristics and their distribution) this paper seeks to characterize changes in animal production and the relationship between people, livestock, and their environment. These methods allow for an investigation of the topic at different scales (site, zone, territory) with a broad diachronic perspective, and for consideration of orography and cultural traditions alongside climatic factors. Through this integration of various streams of evidence, we aim to better understand the structure of ancient economic systems and the way they conditioned human decision-making on animal production. Results show a shifting relationship with the territory between the Bronze Age and Late Antiquity, in which market requirements and an economic model with a higher degree of integration increasingly influenced husbandry strategies. These processes are reflected in changes in land use and forms of territorial occupation, although along different rhythms and trajectories.