Umberto Albarella

Umberto Albarella
The University of Sheffield | Sheffield · Department of Archaeology

PhD

About

180
Publications
70,037
Reads
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3,763
Citations
Additional affiliations
November 2004 - present
The University of Sheffield
Position
  • Reader in zooarchaeology
October 2004 - present
The University of Sheffield
Position
  • Professor
Education
November 2000 - October 2004
Durham University
Field of study
  • Archaeology

Publications

Publications (180)
Article
Full-text available
This study contributes to reconstruct the socio-economic dynamics of change at the Roman-Early Anglo-Saxon transition in Britain through zooarchaeological analysis. Contemporary assemblages from the nearby European mainland are used to provide a term of comparison. The results indicate that typical Roman husbandry practices survived into fourth cen...
Chapter
European communities experienced many agricultural and economic changes during the Iron Age and after the Roman conquest. Variations in livestock size and shape are direct evidence of such transformations. Based on 56,283 cattle bone measurements from 112 archaeological sites, this study aims to better define husbandry change mechanisms and diversi...
Article
Full-text available
Cattle were the predominant domestic animal in the Iron Age and Roman Netherlands, yet their management is still incompletely understood. Some aspects of cattle management, such as birth season and the provision of fodder, have received little or no attention so far. This paper is the first to investigate these aspects for the Iron Age and Roman Ne...
Article
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This paper presents a zooarchaeological analysis from the site of Spolverino (southern Tuscany, Italy). Archaeological excavations have uncovered a complex stratigraphy dated from the Roman Imperial period to Late Antiquity (late 1st- early 6th centuries AD). The industrial function of the site in Imperial times is partially reflected in the nature...
Article
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The expansion of isotope analyses has transformed the study of past migration and mobility, sometimes providing unexpected and intriguing results. This has, in turn, led to media attention (and concomitant misrepresentation) and scepticism from some archaeologists. Such scepticism is healthy and not always without foundation. Isotope analysis is ye...
Article
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The chicken (Gallus domesticus) originates from the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), a bird found in south and south-east Asia. The timing of the initial domestication, as well as its spread to western Asia and Europe, are still unclear. In Italy, the species was likely to have been introduced in the early Iron Age, though the precise chronology of...
Article
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The recording of age at death is an important aspect of zooarchaeological analysis as it provides evidence about a variety of research questions, spanning from the origins of domestication to husbandry strategies. Age estimation based on tooth eruption and wear is a commonly used method to establish the age at death of archaeological populations. H...
Book
This volume represents the first attempt to review the archaeology of changes that occurred in the rural world during the transition between the Middle Ages and the Modern Era. The sixteenth century in Europe was a time of profound change, the threshold between the ‘medieval’ and the ‘modern’, as new technologies were introduced, distant lands expl...
Article
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87Sr/86Sr isotope analysis was performed on 45 cattle teeth, 5 sheep/goat teeth and 2 pig teeth from two archaeological sites in the Netherlands, dating to the Iron Age and Roman period. This makes it one of the largest strontium isotope projects focusing on animals from the Netherlands - to date. An integrated approach was taken, combining the str...
Poster
Full-text available
Understanding Zooarchaeology I Introductory course aimed at beginners University of Sheffield Next dates: Monday 20 - Wednesday 22 April 2020
Poster
Full-text available
Follow up course aimed at those with existing knowledge or those who have completed Understanding Zooarchaeology I Thursday 23 - Saturday 25 April 2020 University of Sheffield
Article
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There are important gaps in the historical and archaeological evidence that have, so far, precluded us from reliably assessing the role of the goat in the English Middle Ages. This, in part, is the direct consequence of the absence of a methodology allowing the confident identification of sheep and goat bones. On the other hand, the fact that the g...
Article
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The geographic origins of livestock found at the Late Neolithic site of Durrington Walls (Wiltshire, UK) is explored using strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and oxygen (δ18OcarbVSMOW) isotope analysis of tooth enamel as an archive of lifetime movement. The analysis of 49 cattle is augmented with data for small numbers of animals from the contemporaneous monume...
Article
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The original version of this article, unfortunately, contained errors. Figures 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 35 (Discriminant Analysis scatterplots) are incorrect: during the page lay-out design phase in all these figures, the centroid group lines (i.e. vertical lines which are blue for goats and red for sheep) were...
Article
Full-text available
Krish Seetah. 2019. Humans, animals, and the craft of slaughter in archaeo-historic societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 978-11084-288-0-4 £75. - Volume 93 Issue 370 - Umberto Albarella
Article
Recent analysis of a large faunal assemblage from a Roman roadside settlement at Ware, Hertfordshire has indicated potentially strong links between the nature of animal exploitation on site and its location on Ermine Street. Animal husbandry was focused on the production of cattle and sheep, both of which had experienced stock 'improvement' by the...
Article
Full-text available
Although many historians have extensively discussed the agricultural history of England between the Late Middle Ages and the Modern Era, this period of crucial changes has received less attention by archaeologists. In this paper, zooarchaeological evidence dated between the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period is analysed to investigate cha...
Article
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The great henge complexes of southern Britain are iconic monuments of the third millennium BCE, representing great feats of engineering and labor mobilization that hosted feasting events on a previously unparalleled scale. The scale of movement and the catchments that the complexes served, however, have thus far eluded understanding. Presenting the...
Article
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The evolution of human-animal relationships in central England is reviewed. In the Mesolithic, the main focus was on the hunting of large game. The earliest phase of a productive economy is poorly documented but the more mature Neolithic sees a strong focus on husbandry, with hunting playing a subsidiary role. Although milk was already consumed in...
Article
Wild birds are intrinsically associated with our perception of the Middle Ages. They often feature in heraldic designs, paintings, and books of hours; few human activities typify the medieval period better than falconry. Prominent in medieval iconography, wild birds feature less frequently in written sources (as they were rarely the subject of trad...
Poster
Full-text available
Despite the high frequency of bird remains in post-medieval English faunal assemblages, very little is known about their economic and cultural importance. In this paper, the bird remains recovered at the 16th century manor house of Little Pickle, in southern England, are analysed. Taxonomic proportions, body-part frequencies, kill-off patterns and...
Chapter
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Evidence collected from several archaeological sites in Rome, particularly the Crypta Balbi, dated to the 7th – 10th century AD, indicates changes in pig management that can be associated with an evolving urban landscape. Pigs in the Roman city were of small size – consistently with the evidence from most contemporary sites in Italy – and were prob...
Chapter
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Despite attempts made in the last 15 years to revitalise it in a new light, environmental archaeology no longer has a valid interpretative value and should be left confined to the history of research. In this commentary, I discuss some of the reasons why I regard the concept to be more confusing than helpful and compare it with the state of discuss...
Article
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Measurements taken on 47 complete and 44 distal fragments of cattle metacarpals from 17 th century AD Carnide, Lisbon, separate into two groups. Comparison with 21 ancient DNA sexed specimens and modern specimens of known sex (seven Barrosã cows and a Barrosã bull), indicates that the Carnide metacarpals probably belonged to both cows and bulls/oxe...
Chapter
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Conference Paper
Although many historians have extensively discussed the agricultural history of England between the Late Middle Ages and the Modern Era, this period of crucial changes has received less attention by archaeologists. In this paper, zooarchaeological evidence dated between the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period is analysed to investigate evi...
Article
This special issue of the European Journal of Archaeology discusses aspects of animal husbandry in a number of provinces of the Western Roman Empire. In this introduction, we describe the general characteristics of animal husbandry in pre-Roman and Roman times to assess any changes that may have occurred after the Roman conquest. The results sugges...
Article
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This paper examines the zooarchaeological evidence from six Basque towns (Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Salvatierra–Agurain, Balmaseda, Orduña and Durango), and compares it with historical written sources. The key aims are a better understanding of urban diet, the provisioning of meat to towns, and the relationship between town and country, in the 12th–...
Article
Full-text available
Distinguishing between the bones of sheep and goat is a notorious challenge in zooarch-aeology. Several methodological contributions have been published at different times and by various people to facilitate this task, largely relying on a macro-morphological approach. This is now routinely adopted by zooarchaeologists but, although it certainly ha...
Data
Goat and sheep specimens included in the sample studied. (DOCX)
Data
Biometrical raw data of the modern material. (ACCDB)
Data
List of measurements used for this study. (DOCX)
Data
Median, effect size, Mann-Whitney U test and Bonferroni adjustment results. (DOCX)
Data
Structure matrix table with the correlation coefficients for each element and each variable/measurement for discriminant analysis. (DOCX)
Data
Inter and intra observer error results. (DOCX)
Data
Example of how to apply the new methodology on archaeological material: Sheep and goat scapulae found at the medieval site of Woolmonger/Kingswell street in Northampton (bones from phase 2, i.e. c. AD 1100–1400). (DOCX)
Data
Results from Manova for each combination of ratios used in the allometric shape analysis. (DOCX)
Data
Percentage of correct classifications by element and species from linear discriminant analysis. (DOCX)
Article
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This article reviews aspects of the development of animal husbandry in Roman Britain, focusing in particular on the Iron Age/Roman and Roman/early medieval transitions. By analysing the two chronological extremes of the period of Roman influence in Britain we try to identify the core characteristics of Romano-British husbandry by using case studies...
Chapter
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This methodological glossary presents brief explanations of the main analytical methods employed by zooarchaeologists and makes reference to those chapters in the Handbook that provide examples of their applications. The aim is to provide non-expert readers with a basic understanding of how the evidence presented in this volume has been obtained. T...
Chapter
Full-text available
After more than a century of growth, zooarchaeology has started fulfilling its full potential. The recognition of the centrality of zooarchaeological investigations in archaeology represents the most important, and hopefully enduring, development. Zooarchaeology remains, however, ultimately inter-disciplinary and cannot be pigeonholed within either...
Book
This book presents a survey of world archaeology, from the point of view of animal remain studies. It can be considered as a showcase for world zooarchaeology. Forty-eight chapters written by researchers from twenty-five countries discuss archaeological investigations in five different continents. The geographic range covers the Arctic as well as t...
Article
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Although domestic fowl is often found at Italian archaeological sites at least from the 6th century BC onwards, it becomes widespread only in the Roman period. Throughout the Middle Ages, chicken played an important role in the Italian food economy as attested by the substantial number of bones of this bird recovered from archaeological contexts. T...
Article
The assemblage from Greenwich High Road has interesting implications for our understanding of 18th and early 19th century tanneries and also of the use of bones as building material. The study of the age at death of the animals revealed that the horncores are mostly from fully adult individuals, probably culled draught animals. This hypothesis is s...
Conference Paper
In this paper, the zooarchaeological evidence for different religious communities in medieval Spain is reviewed, through the analysis of species presence/absence and the carcass processing techniques (butchery marks and body parts). The potential and limitations of faunal remains to address issues related to identity and religious observance is add...
Poster
Full-text available
Duck and goose remains are found in great numbers in late and post-medieval English faunal assemblages, but very little is known about their economic and cultural importance. Their exploitation is rarely discussed because the identification of particular species can be complicated, including determining whether they belong to wild or domestic speci...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the zooarchaeological evidence from six Basque towns (Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Salvatierra-Agurain, Balmaseda, Orduña and Durango), and compares it with historical written sources. The key aims are a better understanding of urban diet, the provisioning of meat to towns, and the relationship between town and country, in the 12th-...
Article
Full-text available
Tissue-thin parchment made it possible to produce the first pocket Bibles: Thousands were made in the 13th century. The source of this parchment, often called "uterine vellum," has been a long-standing controversy in codicology. Use of the Latin term abortivum in many sources has led some scholars to suggest that the skin of fetal calves or sheep w...
Article
Full-text available
The discovery of Neolithic houses at Durrington Walls that are contemporary with the main construction phase of Stonehenge raised questions as to their interrelationship. Was Durrington Walls the residence of the builders of Stonehenge? Were the activities there more significant than simply domestic subsistence? Using lipid residue analysis, this p...
Article
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In this paper, a terminology for the description of the movement of animal bone in archaeological stratigraphy is proposed and discussed. It is suggested that the terms ‘re-deposition’ and ‘residuality’ are adopted to describe movement of bone from earlier to later levels, and ‘intrusion’ and ‘contamination’ to describe movement from later to earli...
Article
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In M. Atkinson and S.J. Preston Heybridge: A Late Iron Age and Roman Settlement, Excavations at Elms Farm 1993-5, Internet Archaeology 40.
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Article
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The recording of tooth wear is essential for the investigation of age in zooarchaeological assemblages, but most tooth wear methodologies apply only to mandibular teeth, thereby neglecting potentially valuable maxillary data. The large sample of pig maxillary jaws and teeth recovered at Durrington Walls has provided the opportunity to design a new...
Article
87Sr/86Sr isotopic analysis was performed on 95 cattle teeth from the Iron Age and Roman rural site of Owslebury (Hampshire). This constitutes one of largest strontium (Sr) isotopic projects in Roman archaeology and the first ever dealing with Iron Age cattle. The Sr isotopic signal of Middle Iron Age cattle is consistent with a local Sr signature,...
Article
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El presente estudio sobre la variación osteométrica de los restos de oveja y vacuno recuperados de yacimientos arqueológicos del sur de Portugal — región que fue controlada por los musulmanes — revela que durante el período andalusí se produjo un incremento en la talla de la oveja, seguido tras la reconquista por un subsiguiente aumento del tamaño...
Article
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In the course of a zooarchaeological survey of Holocene sites in southern Portugal, a substantial size increase of cattle bones was noted following the Christian reconquista of the 11th–13th centuries AD. A size increase in the course of time within a lineage of domestic livestock is usually considered to represent animal improvement. However sever...
Article
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New methods permit archaeologists to distinguish between wild boar and domestic pigs with greater confidence than has been hitherto possible. Metrical methods are the most commonly used; these are reviewed. Assemblages containing a wider range of measurements (as measured by the coefficient of variation [V]) than is found in one population suggest...