The Zooarchaeology of Early Rome: Meat Production, Distribution, and Consumption in Public and Private Spaces (9th-5th Centuries BCE)
AdvisorBlake, Emma C.
Stiner, Mary C.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 07/24/2021
AbstractFrom the 9th-5th centuries BCE (Early Iron Age through Early Republican period), Rome changed drastically from a collection of hut compounds into a substantial urban center. While historically this time period has offered little archaeological material, recent excavations in Rome and nearby cities are yielding new archaeological evidence from this time of change. This dissertation uses zooarchaeological evidence to understand the formation of cities in the Lower Tiber Valley during the 9th-5th centuries BCE. Rome and the other sites in this microregion shared similar processes of urbanization during this period. I analyzed faunal materials from domestic and sanctuary spaces from the Area Sacra di Sant'Omobono, the Regia, and the Curiae Veteres in Rome and from the sister cities of Gabii and Veii to characterize how meat was produced, distributed, and consumed in the newly urban spaces. I found that even though other archaeological evidence points to increased economic specialization and increased formalization in social roles as the city grew, the faunal remains instead suggest consistency in meat production and consumption practices in domestic spaces and little elite control over sanctuary activities. The domestic consumption indicates consistent practices in small scale, household level meat production and processing that relied on a mixture of sheep/goat, cattle, and pig meat. While pork consumption was expected to increase alongside urbanization and the formulization of the shared “Roman” identity, this shift did not occur until later periods. In sanctuary spaces, a range of sacrifices were practiced by diverse groups of practitioners, showing broad community access and participation in defining the social order in the new city. In earlier scholarship, this period was known as the “Regal period” in which kings built the foundations of Rome, but the faunal remains instead show that some economic and social practices were much more fluid, informal, and decentralized than previously thought. This dissertation comprises many of the largest faunal assemblages from the time period and are from well-documented, modern excavations. The zooarchaeological findings offer new insights into meat consumption and animal sacrifice during the birth of Rome.
Degree ProgramGraduate College