Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition (Medieval History and Archaeology)

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All the statistical analyses were conducted with SPSS statistics program. Horncore: ratio between the length E and length of the outer curvature F plotted against the ratio between the maximum diameter taken at the base A and length of the outer curvature of the horncore F. The blue line defines the area of the graph where the horncores of the modern goat specimens fall. The red line defines the area of the graph where the horncores of the modern sheep specimens fall. Scapula: ratio between the greatest length of the processus articularis GLP and the length of the glenoid cavity LG plotted against the ratio between the greatest length of the processus articularis GLP and the breadth of the glenoid cavity BG.

Symbols and lines as explained in Fig. Scapula: ratio between the shortest distance from the base of the spine to the edge of the glenoid cavity ASG and the smallest length of the collum scapulae SLC plotted against the ratio between the greatest length of the processus articularis GLP and the breadth of the glenoid cavity BG. Since they seem to plot more towards the centre of the sheep distribution, they are likely to be sheep. This specimen is substantially distinct from the sheep archaeological specimens, and it seems to be more consistent with the goat pattern of distribution.

In Fig. These combinations should be able to describe the difference in the shape of the glenoid cavity and the collum scapulae between the two species. The only archaeological goats identified are from KL, and as Fig. Archaeological sheep at all three sites largely fall in the area of the graph with their modern counterparts. Since they follow the distribution of the modern sheep, their morphological identification should not be questioned.

A few archaeological sheep specimens at KL and WKS fall outside the modern sheep group showing strong sheep traits. With the exception of the WKS specimen mentioned above, these specimens are likely to be sheep rather than goats as they plot more towards the centre of the sheep distribution. Humerus: ratio between the breadth of the capitulum BE and the minimum diameter of the trochlea constriction HTC plotted against the ratio between the breadth of the capitulum BE and the medio-lateral breadth of the trochlea BT.

As the amount of overlap is significant—preventing us from clearly identifying the centres of distribution for the two species—biometry in this case cannot assist in assigning them to species level. Humerus: ratio between the breadth of the epicondyle lateralis BEI and the medio-lateral breadth of the trochlea BT plotted against the ratio between the breadth of the epicondyle lateralis BEI and the breadth of the distal end Bd.

However, since the overlap is significant and centres of distributions are hard to identify, the identification of both remains uncertain. Radius: ratio between the breadth of the facies articularis proximalis BFp and the greatest breadth of the proximal end Bp plotted against the depth of the proximal end Dp.

Only one goat radius has been identified at KL and it falls indeed within the goat group. Most of the archaeological sheep gather in the area where only modern sheep plot or in the area of overlap. Nevertheless, some archaeological sheep at KL plot clearly among the modern goat group.

Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition

This phenomenon was not observed on the modern material, and the inconsistency of distribution between modern and archaeological sample could be due to the fact that the proximal radius is known to change with age as, through time, it undergoes post-fusional growth cf. Payne and Bull for pigs.


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In the modern sample, the age factor was controlled, while in the archaeological material, the same factor is unknown. As a consequence, different age classes—compared to the modern material—could potentially be present in the archaeological material, causing inconsistency. Thus, the use of these measurements to distinguish the two species in an archaeological assemblage needs to be taken with caution as the effectiveness of the BI may vary according to the population under study.

Potentially, they can still be useful, as they were very successful in the separation of sheep and goats in the modern material, but they may not help in all cases, as shown for our three sites. Metacarpal: ratio between the diameter of the medial trochlea 1 and the width of the medial condyle a plotted against the ratio between the diameter of the medial trochlea 1 and the diameter of the verticillus of the medial condyle 2.

The modern goat outlier falling among the modern and archaeological sheep is a pigmy goat, as such it might have a different morphology. Metacarpal: ratio between the greatest breadth of the distal end BFd and the greatest length GL plotted against the ratio between the smallest width of the shaft SD and the greatest length GL. Metatarsal: ratio between the diameter of the medial trochlea 1 and the width of the medial condyle a plotted against the ratio between the diameter of the medial trochlea 1 and the diameter of the verticillus of the medial condyle 2.

In this case, biometry cannot assist in their identifications. Metatarsal: ratio between the greatest breadth of the distal end BFd and the greatest length GL plotted against the ratio between the smallest width of the shaft SD and the greatest length GL. Tibia: breadth of distal Bd end plotted against the ratio between the depth of medial Dda and lateral Ddb sides.

Some are in the area of overlap, though they seem to be more consistent with the sheep distribution pattern.

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Two specimens from WKS, however, look dubious: they fall far from the modern sheep cluster and more towards the modern goat group. One even falls outside the goat cluster, showing very marked goat traits. For these specimens, identification must be reconsidered. Astragalus: ratio between the height of the central constriction H and the greatest depth of the lateral half Dl plotted against the ratio between the breadth of the distal end Bd and the greatest length of the lateral half GLl. No archaeological goat astragali have been identified. Most of the archaeological sheep fall either among the modern sheep or in the area of overlap.

There are a few archaeological sheep specimens that can be considered borderline at KL and FL : they fall among the modern goats, but they are quite close to the other archaeological sheep; thus, the evidence is not strong enough for their morphological identification to be questioned. An archaeological sheep at KL falls well outside the modern sheep cluster showing strong sheep traits. Astragalus: ratio between the breadth of the distal end Bd and the greatest depth of the lateral half Dl and the ratio between the greatest depth of the lateral half Dl and the greatest length of the lateral half GLl.

Nevertheless, it must be said that they seem more consistent with the sheep distribution pattern. Calcaneum: ratio between the length c and breadth B of the articular facet of the os malleolare plotted against the ratio between the length of the articular facet of the os malleolare c and the length taken from the articular facet of the os malleolare to the end of the articulation-free part of the process d.

Calcaneum: ratio between the greatest depth of the substentaculum tali DS and the length of the articular facet of the os malleolare c plotted against the ratio between the length of the articular facet of the os malleolare c and the length taken from the articular facet of the os malleolare to the end of the articulation-free part of the process d.

They seem to be consistent with the sheep group, and as such, they are very likely to be sheep. Calcaneum: ratio between the greatest depth of the substentaculum tali DS and the length of the articular facet of the os malleolare c plotted against the ratio between the length c and the breadth B of the articular facet of the os malleolare. Nevertheless, they seem to be more consistent with the sheep distribution than the goat pattern. LDA has been applied to the archaeological assemblages in order to have further insights into the distinction between sheep and goat and also to test if the same successful outcome we had with the modern material Salvagno and Albarella could be obtained on fragmented archaeological assemblages.

In this instance, LDA is used as a predicting tool. The program attributes an individual score to each of the new archaeological cases. This score represents the distance of that individual specimen from the group centroid value i. As a consequence, the program itself attributes to species level prediction the archaeological specimens on the basis of their individual scores; the group to which the new cases will be attributed is the one from which their distance is smallest Burns and Burns LDA, as it evaluates all metric variables at the same time, has the potential to support or contradict the identifications based on the morphological approach, and it represents an additional aid for attributing the unidentified specimens to species level.

Results for all three sites are presented on an element by element basis. The diagrams show, on the horizontal axis, the individual discriminant score attributed by the LDA to each archaeological specimen and, on the vertical axis, the species attributions assigned by the program. The only possible attributions were goat, identified by the number 1, and sheep identified by number 2 vertical axis. The vertical lines on the graph represent the group centroids for each species. In Supplementary material 2 , Table A shows the results when LDA was applied on the modern and the archaeological horncores.

In regard to the modern material, of the 35 goat horncores originally present in the modern sample all of known taxa , LDA has attributed 33 to goat and two to sheep. For the sheep modern group, which was originally composed of 28 sheep horncores, LDA have identified 27 horncores as belonging to sheep and one as belonging to goat. These results are very interesting as they indicate that LDA bears an intrinsic error. Consequently, it is likely that such bias has also affected the archaeological specimens. The nature of this error is strictly linked to the biological nature of the two species analysed and their variability: as they are closely related species, a certain degree of overlap between the two will always exist.

In addition, as LDA works following very rigid rules, all the new archaeological cases could be exclusively assigned to sheep or goat.

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With all specimens attributed to species, it is almost inevitable that some misidentifications will occur. Despite these limitations, the use of LDA in combination with BI and morphological approach is still recommended. In fact, compared to BI, LDA has the advantage of being able to consider multiple measurements at the same time for the same element; more measurements included in the analysis means that a better description of the morphology of the bone can be achieved, and this would optimise, in some cases, the separation between the two groups. LDA also provides further insights on which are the most effective measurements to use for distinguishing between the two taxa.

Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition | Reviews in History

These considerations apply to all anatomical elements and will not be repeated for the other sections. If the archaeological data are taken into consideration Supplementary material 2 Table A , it can be seen that, at KL, 29 horncores were morphologically identified as goat, but LDA attributed only 28 to this species and one to sheep, while one morphologically identified sheep has been attributed to the goat group. For the other two archaeological assemblages, morphological identifications were consistent with the LDA results.

Diagram of the LDA individual discriminant scores attributed to the archaeological material for the horncore. Clearly, the exclusion of these measurements makes the effectiveness of LDA on the horncores more questionable. Diagram of the individual discriminant scores attributed to the archaeological material by LDA for the horncore when variables E and F were excluded. Symbols are described in Fig.

In Supplementary material 2 , Table C shows the results when LDA was applied on the measurements of the archaeological scapulae.

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This difference in the rate of successful identification is likely to be due to the fact that the modern sample was more diversified—consisting of several different breeds while the archaeological populations may have been more homogeneous, therefore providing a better opportunity for a clear-cut distinction between the two species. Diagram of the individual discriminant scores attributed to the archaeological material by LDA for the scapula.