Fallow Deer in Prehistoric Greece, and the Analogy between Faunal Spectra and Pollen Analyses

By Hubbard, R. N. L. B. | Antiquity, September 1995 | Go to article overview

Fallow Deer in Prehistoric Greece, and the Analogy between Faunal Spectra and Pollen Analyses


Hubbard, R. N. L. B., Antiquity


Manipulating pollen and animal-bone records

Pollen analyses may have contributions from the pollen of trees, herbs, aquatic plants, fern and moss spores, and other plant groups and sub-groups. While the overall composition is of interest, the contributions of the different components often interfere with each other in percentage calculations. Individual pollen types may be excluded if their behaviour is grossly aberrant - whether for natural or unnatural reasons. For instance, bracken (Pteridium) and ivy (Hedera) are over-represented in some archaeological pollen analyses, and cause a dent in the other pollen curves which can be removed by excluding them from the calculations. Raw pollen counts are sub-divided and turned into percentages in ways that seek to minimize perturbing effects, and thereby to show underlying processes more clearly. To the unititiated, this may seem analogous to that famous oxymoron 'creative accountancy', but in fact it is respectable and legitimate.

The desire to define 'Minimum Numbers of Individuals' and to establish age-distributions encourages archaeozoologists to examine their raw evidence critically. However, they have neglected the possibilities of faunal diagrams (usually used in the context of pre-domestic faunas) as a source of ecological evidence analogous to pollen diagrams.

Analyses of pollen and of animal bones have some things in common. Faunal analyses may contain representatives from a number of autonomous or semi-autonomous ecological groups: bird and fish bones may be present, as well as carnivore and small mammal remains (rodents and insectivores), in addition to the bones of large herbivores. Just as it makes no sense to a pollen analyst to describe shrubs as percentages of the fern spore sum, or trees in terms of the aquatics, so the composition of each zoological sub-group needs to be treated (as far as possible) in isolation. At the other extreme, sub-divisions can be too fine. Palaeontological studies carried out on a family-by-family basis can make an ecological context almost impossible to recover.

In principle, the overall composition of a faunal spectrum is as important and interesting as the palynological equivalent, which allows the changing contributions of the different sub-groups to be assessed at a glance. In practice, the differences between pollen grains and animal bones constrain the analogy.

As differential excavation recovery causes notorious biases (Payne 1972; 1975a), comparison of faunal spectra is restricted to stratified sequences of three or more layers, where similar excavation biases may affect each unit. Inter-site comparisons, likewise, are restricted to comparing stratigraphic series of faunal spectra, each subject to its own perturbing processes.

A major complication which the pollen analyst is spared concerns the separation of wild and domestic specimens of the same species.

Since any trait that occurs in a wild population can also appear in domesticates, it makes little genetic sense to identify a given bone as 'wild' or 'domesticated'. The problem can be attacked from an ecological perspective, however. What is necessary is, firstly, a reasonably objective basis for categorizing bones as 'wild' or 'domestic'; and secondly, at least one animal that can safely be assumed to be wild, with whose behaviour the putatively wild animals can be compared. Principal components analysis of the faunal spectra will distinguish between 'wild' and 'domestic' behaviour - but a little thought will do the job adequately, if less glamorously. In prehistoric non-urban sites at least, wild animals will reflect the surrounding environment and therefore show a consistent pattern of relations with each other, while domestic animals will tend to show biologically irrational patterns reflecting their owners' preferences.

It is commonly observed that domestication leads to smaller animals. This seems to be a genetic consequence of the tendency of smaller animals to need less food. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Fallow Deer in Prehistoric Greece, and the Analogy between Faunal Spectra and Pollen Analyses
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.