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This paper presents the results of a pilot study using dental microwear analysis on 23 sheep and goat teeth dated to the 6th century BC from the Iron Age site of El Turó Font de la Canya (Barcelona, Spain). This study aimed to reconstruct livestock management practices and landscape use. The dental microwear pattern indicates that sheep and goats could have been grazing in the same area where vegetation was composed of shrubs, bushes and non-graminaceous plants on an eroded landscape, although additional supplies of fodder cannot be excluded. This scenario is compatible with the archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data which suggest a possibly increased territoriality, land degradation and an increase of woodland clearance during Iron Age in the North-east of the Iberian Peninsula. Furthermore, we applied two recent microwear approaches which provide more information about mortality events and the possibility of distinguishing between an intensive and extensive management. This paper demonstrates how this method can be used to better understand animal husbandry practices and landscape use in Late Prehistory.

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... The observations were made twice in different parts of the protoconid of the selected lower molars and premolars, having as reference a 0.4 × 0.4 mm grid. The following variables, used in previous studies (Gallego et al., 2017;Jiménez-Manchón et al., 2018;Rivals et al., 2011), are: number of pits; number of scratches; number of small and large pits; number of fine and coarse scratches; the range of thickness of the scratches or SWS (scratch width score), distinguishing between predominance of fine scratches (0), predominance of coarse scratches (2) and the same amount of fine and coarse scratches (1); the presence of more than four cross scratches (CS); and the presence of depressions of irregular circumference or gouges (G). The numbers of scratches and pits allows distinction between grazers and browsers. ...
... These results are consistent with anthracological data, which reveal a landscape dominated by pine and mixed forests with oaks accompanied by Mediterranean shrubs (Arbutus unedo, Fabaceae and Phillyrea/Rhamnus) (Alcolea et al., 2017), and with pollen analyses, which show a landscape formed by a slightly open forest (Arboreal Pollen 40-60%) dominated mainly by pines (López-García, 1992;López-García and López-Sáez, 2000). Furthermore, overgrazing could be ruled out due to the scarcity of soil intake, as has been suggested for later periods (Jiménez-Manchón et al., 2018). It is from Early Neolithic that human impact on the environment begins to be detected (Revelles, 2017), so the grasses would still be in good condition. ...
Article
Sheep predominate the Early Neolithic faunal assemblages in the Iberian Peninsula. Their exploitation for meat and milk production made them key to the economy of these early farming societies. Management of sheep breeding season and feeding in the context of the local environment were decisive in obtaining these livestock products. This work focuses on these aspects through stable isotope and dental microwear analyses on sheep teeth from the cave of Chaves (Huesca, Spain). The results show the existence of “out of season” (autumn/early winter) sheep births in the Early Neolithic, contrasting significantly with spring lambing prevailing in Neolithic husbandries elsewhere in Europe and confirming the antiquity of a western Mediterranean characteristic in this regard. Furthermore, little changes in sheep diet throughout the year have been documented, as far as could be evidenced from stable carbon isotope ratios and dental microwear. Only two individuals showed higher variability in diet on a seasonal scale with possible contribution of C4 plants, possibly from grazing in the valley steppes at lower altitudes. Overall the results suggest good adaptation of sheep to the Pyrenean mid-altitude environment and strong zootechnical knowledge of the earliest shepherds in this area.
... Microwear analyses have been traditionally performed on wild and extinct species (Solounias and Semprebon 2002) but they have been also applied to domestic mammals showing their great contribution to the discussion of livestock management (e.g. Mainland 1997Mainland , 2003Mainland and Halstead 2005;Henton et al. 2014;Rivals et al. 2011;Rieau 2012;Jiménez-Manchón et al. 2018). On the Balearic Islands, prior microwear studies focused on extinct animals and human remains (Hautier et al. 2009;Winkler et al. 2013aWinkler et al. , 2013bJarosova et al. 2006). ...
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In the last few decades, bioarchaeological studies have grown exponentially on the Balearic Islands. In general, animal husbandry based on domestic triad and a Mediterranean macchia landscape is well-attested during the prehistory of this archipelago. Despite providing meaningful data about dietary patterns and livestock practices, dental microwear analyses on animal teeth have not been previously applied to the research of the Balearic Islands. This study presents the results of dental microwear analyses from 107 caprine teeth from seven archaeological sites from the Balearics dated from the Middle and Late Bronze Age. The results suggest that sheep and goats were predominantly browsers, having a shrubby-predominant diet, with the exception of Cala Blanca caprines (Menorca) that were mixed feeders with a tendency towards a grazering diet. Dental microwear results also suggest that caprines from two archaeological sites located on the coast did not feed near to the settlements, thus suggesting livestock movement. The combination of these results with the archaeobotanical information available from some sites has allowed a better understanding about livestock management and its impact on the transformation of the prehistoric landscape of the Balearic Islands.
... To a lesser extent, this tool has also been used to analyse the palaeodiet in domestic animals in order to better understand the management strategies employed by herders/farmers and landscape use (e.g. Mainland 2003Mainland , 2006Gallego et al. 2017;Jiménez-Manchón et al. 2019). ...
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Dental microwear analysis is a proxy for analysing the diet in extinct and extant vertebrates, especially mammals. The limits of these approaches are still rather poorly known, especially in terms of taphonomic impacts. Indeed, several physical or chemical phenomena may have altered the microscopic features linked to the diet and compromised their study. In this article, we evaluate the effect of sediment abrasion on teeth on low-magnification tooth wear studies. We used a tumbling machine in order to reproduce abrasion marks on 57 molars and premolars of Equus sp., Capra hircus and Sus scrofa employing two types of sediments: a mixture of clay and sand sediment with small (150–200 μm) and rounded particles and a sandy one with larger (350–500 μm) and sub-angular particles. The teeth underwent up to 2 h of tumbling simulation, and casts were made at regular intervals in order to evaluate the evolution of the taphonomic impact over time. Our experiment shows that (1) both sediments strongly alter the teeth after a certain time; (2) the fine particles contained in the mix of sand and clay sediment have a much stronger impact on the enamel than the sand; (3) the mix of clay and sand sediment tends to increase the number of pits and reduce the number of scratches, vice versa for the sand; and (4) sedimentary and dietary marks do not have the same morphology and can be distinguished. The abrasion marks (compared to dietary scratches) tend to be wider, shorter, with an isotropic distribution, more frequent on the most exposed parts of the teeth (such as the cusps or the edges). The pits resulting from sediment tumbling present an irregular morphology in comparison with dietary pits, which are rounder. Both sediments have an impact on the enamel surfaces. Thus, when signs of taphonomic alteration (e.g. presence of abrasion marks, taphonomic pits, notches in the edges of enamel) are documented, we recommend avoiding studying the tips of the cups of the Suidae (and probably other bunodont teeth) and the portions of enamel at the edge of equid teeth which are more affected by taphonomic processes, especially in the mix of sand and clay sediment. This work has important implications for microwear studies applied to fossil samples. It makes it possible to recognize some taphonomic features linked to mechanical abrasion of the enamel, to consider with more caution the teeth that have been preserved in fine sediment and to choose, in order to characterise the diet, the areas least impacted by taphonomic alterations.
... Dental wear analysis is an important and widely utilized proxy for dietary reconstruction of extinct animals (Jiménez-Manchón et al. 2019;Ibáñez et al. in press). The two major proxies of dental wear analysis are mesowear Kaiser et al. 2000;Kaiser and Fortelius 2003;Kaiser and Solounias 2003) and microwear signals (Solounias and Semprebon 2002;Semprebon et al. 2004;Rivals et al. , 2011Rivals and Athanassiou 2008). ...
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Low magnification dental microwear analysis is a widespread dietary proxy for palaeoenvironmental analyses. The limitations of the method, such as observer bias or variation of microwear scars between different tooth positions, are still not quite understood. This study aims to reveal that reproducibility and variability of low magnification dental microwear is better, than it was previously thought. The main focuses of this study were differences between results produced by independent observers, and individual variability of the wear features on different teeth of the same specimen. To approach these issues, the microwear of 1944 0.4 × 0.4 mm areas on every right molar and premolar (144 teeth of 12 extant ungulate specimens) was quantified. Reproducibility and interobserver error was tested by calculating the intraclass correlation coefficients for the scores produced by the observers. The microwear features of each tooth were characterized by the mean, median, standard deviation, range, skewness and kurtosis. These statistical parameters were than compared. To test whether observed differences between the microwear patterns of different tooth positions are significant, ANOVA and Dunnett’s post hoc tests were performed. To calculate the minimal number of sampling sites required for characterizing a tooth, a computer-assisted bootstrap method was applied. As a result, it can be suggested that the low magnification microwear method is quite robust, with low interobserver error. The variance of microwear scars seems uniform throughout the dentition of the examined specimens. Some differences can be noted between tooth positions, however, some limitations could be lifted, at least in the case of ungulates.
... DMTA and LMDA were applied to the same archaeological individuals from EMP and TFC (Jiménez-Manchón et al., 2019a, 2019b. Both methods suggest similar results, indicating the pre-eminence of diversified diets in EMP and TFC. ...
Article
Dental Microwear Analysis (DMA) is currently used for obtaining information on diet of different animal species. Low-magnification Microwear Dental Analysis (LMDA) is a DMA technique based on the identification of microfeatures (pits and scratches) on the tooth enamel surface. During the last decade, Dental Microwear Texture Analysis (DMTA) has gained momentum as an alternative quantitative methodology thus offering more reliable and replicable results and allowing highlighting subtle dietary differences. In this paper we explore the capacities of LMDA and DMTA for discriminating flock managing strategies. Two groups of sheep that were fed differently during the last month of life, one roaming on rangeland, combining Mediterranean forest and meadows and the other on grassland were analysed. While LMDA did not allow discriminating both groups, DMTA showed significant differences between them. DMTA revealed good predictive capacity for the correct classification of the individuals grazing on grasslands, and a poor one for the ones grazing on rangeland, as some of them overlapped with the grassland group. The limitation for correctly classifying roaming individuals is probably explained by the variable composition of plants on rangeland. We used the classificatory rule obtained from the experimental program to classify two archaeological collections of caprines (sheep and goats), from two Iron Age sites from the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula: The Iberian site of El Turó de la Font de la Canya and the Greek colony of Empúries. Finally, we compared the results with those obtained in previous studies using low-magnification microwear techniques (LMDA). In this way, we show the potential of DMTA for discriminating between animal feeding strategies in the past.
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Available : https://rdcu.be/b4ATN Identification of animal pens offers relevant information as to livestock practices in late prehistoric societies. To date, livestock pens have been identified particularly in caves thanks to the recognition of fumier deposits. However, that is more complex in open-air settlements because dung degrades more rapidly and macroscopic features are not often visible. In spite of that, these features have been recognised by microscopic analyses (e.g. soil chemical analyses, presence of parasites and spherulites) or by indirect indicators such as polished walls produced by recurrent rubbing by animals. This paper proposes the use of Bone Surface Modifications (BSM) as a possible indicator to identify animal pens in open-air settlements. Mechanical bone modifications resulting from either trampling or gnawing by pigs and by domestic herbivores are the main indicators. The current findings are gleaned from the faunal assemblage of the Iron Age settlement of El Turó de la Font de la Canya (Barcelona, Spain).
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Low-Magnification Dental Microwear Analysis (LMDA) has been widely applied to reconstruct the palaeodiet of wild ungulates. Quantitative observations of the microscopic scratches and pits on the surfaces of the dental enamel of these species allow to distinguish different diets. LMDA has more recently also served to shed light on the palaeodiets of domestic ungulates such as caprines. This technique, however, has not been widely applied to domestic ungulates from extant and archaeological material. In fact, the findings of a recent experimental study indicate that the quantification of pits and scratches affecting the dental enamel of two groups of ewes do not allow to discriminate between feeding in rangeland and grassland areas. The current study therefore explores the potential of a number of different qualitative observations (e.g. presence/absence of surface damage or furrows) to identify the diet of the aforementioned group of ewes. Despite the fact that the results are prone to intraobserver error, they nonetheless indicate that certain variables can serve to discern palaeodiets. The model gleaned from the extant ewes was then applied to archaeological material of caprines from La Ramasse and Lattara, two Iron Age sites in southeastern France. The preliminary results indicate disparities of the type of dental microwear of caprines from one site to another, differences that could derive from different feeding patterns stemming from dissimilar environmental conditions or different strategies employed by herders.
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In this work we present a dental microwear analysis on sheep and goats from two sites of the Empordà region (north-eastern of the Iberian Peninsula) : the Greek comptoir of Empúries and the Iberian town of Ullastret. This study revealed a high intake of graminaceous plants in both sites and in the two chronological phases studied. This pattern is compatible with a livestock grazing on wetlands. On a more specific level, this analysis also revealed some differences in flock’s feeding between Ullastret and Empúries.
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El jaciment protohistòric de Font de la Canya és un jaciment emblemàtic de la recerca arqueològica del Penedès i de Catalunya. Amb una seqüència de 15 anys de campanyes d’excavacions consecutives (1999-2014) ha proporcionat un volum de dades excepcional, en qualitat i quantitat, les quals, sens dubte, representen una aportació cabdal al coneixement de la primera edat del ferro i l’època ibèrica.
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The use of the EM, electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and seismic techniques is more appropriate for the deeper mapping and their employment is usually applied in archaeolandscape studies. This was the case of Priniatikos Pyrgos, where the integrated application of ERT and seismic tomography techniques processed by 3D inversion algorithms were capable to contribute to the archaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Priniatikos Pyrgos at Istron, E. Crete, providing indications regarding the ancient harbor of the nearby settlement (Shahrukh et al 2012). The particular methods were the only solution to provide information about the deposits that exist in the coastal area of Priniatikos Pyrgos: carstic formations of medium to high permeability and alluvium deposits of variable permeability, probably originating by past landslide episodes and periodic flooding of the Istron River, have covered the ancient harbour at depths varying from 20-40m below the current surface. Similarly, electromagnetic and soil resistance measurements revealed the movement of the older Istron River branches, which appeared to be directed to the sea from both sides of the settlement, leaving probably a small path to the mainland from the SW direction. The above results were also supported by the sedimentological analyses and OSL dating of cores taken from the region and the use of geophysical techniques in the study of the dynamics of the landscape evolution (Sarris et al 2012) (Figure 26).
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The analysis of dental microwear is commonly used by paleontologists and anthropologists to clarify the diets of extinct species, including herbivorous and carnivorous mammals. Currently, there are numerous methods employed to quantify dental microwear, varying in the types of microscopes used, magnifications, and the characterization of wear in both two dimensions and three dimensions. Results from dental microwear studies utilizing different methods are not directly comparable and human quantification of wear features (e.g., pits and scratches) introduces interobserver error, with higher error being produced by less experienced individuals. Dental microwear texture analysis (DMTA), which analyzes microwear features in three dimensions, alleviates some of the problems surrounding two-dimensional microwear methods by reducing observer bias. Here, we assess the accuracy and comparability within and between 2D and 3D dental microwear analyses in herbivorous and carnivorous mammals at the same magnification. Specifically, we compare observer-generated 2D microwear data from photosimulations of the identical scanned areas of DMTA in extant African bovids and carnivorans using a scanning white light confocal microscope at 100x magnification. Using this magnification, dental microwear features quantified in 2D were able to separate grazing and frugivorous bovids using scratch frequency; however, DMTA variables were better able to discriminate between disparate dietary niches in both carnivorous and herbivorous mammals. Further, results demonstrate significant interobserver differences in 2D microwear data, with the microwear index remaining the least variable between experienced observers, consistent with prior research. Overall, our results highlight the importance of reducing observer error and analyzing dental microwear in three dimensions in order to consistently interpret diets accurately.
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