The 8th meeting of the ICAZ APWG – 2022 in Wrocław, Poland!

We are pleased to announce, that the 8th meeting of the ICAZ Animal Palaeopathology Working Group (APWG), entitled

‘Function creates shape or shape creates function. Cases of pathology as a scientific bridge between palaeontology and archaeozoology’

will take place in Wrocław (Poland) in May 2022.


The conference is planned to be organized by Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, represented by Aleksander Chrószcz and Dominik Poradowski, and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, represented by Kamilla Pawłowska.

We also hope, that this awful pandemic time will end and we will have an opportunity to meet together in “real life” in Wrocław.

Special Issue Call for Papers: Zoonotic Diseases

 
Zoonotic Diseases: New Directions in Human-Animal Pathology
 
Zoonotic diseases represent some of the world’s greatest health challenges, both today and in the past. Osteoarchaeological records are ideally situated to generate key insights into these diseases in humans and animals and the relationships that enabled the transmissions of infections. These changing human-animal relationships through time have had important consequences in terms of changing disease ecology and the incidence of mutually-shared infectious diseases. The epidemiology of these infectious diseases will have been shaped by diverse biological, environmental and cultural variables. Key transitions representing intensification of human-animal relationships, such as animal domestications, are often associated with disease emergence, yet complex and long-term study of combined human and animal records have often been overlooked. Together these can shed important light upon the health implications of infectious diseases for past humans and animals in terms of the health of populations, but also in terms of social dynamics, economic practices and losses, and living conditions.
 
In recent years, combined osteological and biomolecular studies have produced major advances in our understanding of the ecology and experience of past infectious diseases. Ancient DNA analyses in particular demonstrate the potential to explore the evolution of pathogens and also the ancient spatial networks that enabled disease transmission and spread. An alternative and complementary approach is provided by epidemiological modelling approaches, which are delivering new understanding of the factors influencing disease emergence and transmission. Both human and animal palaeopathology can deliver essential evidence relating to past health and human-animal interactions, yet the potential of this has not always been realised. Although there are continued challenges to palaeopathological and biomolecular approaches to disease identification, innovative methodological and interdisciplinary advances are generating more powerful insights.
 
This call for papers invites original and significant research contributions to understanding past zoonoses from both human and animal perspectives. We are interested in receiving work which explores methodological and theoretical advances, integrated or strongly contextualised approaches, and population-level case studies. Work which genuinely links human and animal studies would be particularly welcome. Interested authors should email the editors, Robin Bendrey and Debra Martin (robin.bendrey@ed.ac.uk and debra.martin@unlv.edu) and provide a working title and brief description of the study by 1 December 2018.  If accepted to be in the theme issue, the study will still go through peer review as usual and so no assurances of acceptance can be offered. We look forward to receiving your proposals to contribute to a high impact and agenda-setting volume.

Animal paleopathology sheds light on farming transitions in English prehistory

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Researchers from the University of Leicester will be shedding new light on how an ‘agricultural revolution’ in Anglo-Saxon England fueled the growth of towns and markets as part of a new project investigating medieval farming habits.
 
The project, titled ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England (FeedSax): The Bioarchaeology of an Agricultural Revolution’, which is funded by the European Research Council, is led by the University of Oxford working with colleagues from the University of Leicester.
 
The period between c 800 – 1200 AD saw dramatic changes in farming practices across large parts of Europe, enabling an increase in cereal production so great that it has been described as an ‘agricultural revolution’. 
 
This ‘cerealisation’ allowed post-Roman populations not only to recover, but to boom, fueling the growth of towns and markets.
 
In England, this meant that many regions became more densely populated than ever before.  
 
To operate a more productive but costly system of farming, peasants had to share expensive resources such as teams of oxen and mouldboard ploughs, and cultivate extensive and unenclosed ‘open fields’ communally.
 
The project aims to understand when, where and how this ‘mouldboard plough package’ originated and spread, by generating the first direct evidence of medieval land use and cultivation regimes from excavated plant remains and animal bones, using a range of scientific methods.
 
Dr Richard Thomas, Reader and Chair of the Association for Environmental Archaeology from the University of Leicester School of Archaeology and Ancient History said: “We are delighted to be working with the University of Oxford on this exciting project. By using different kinds of archaeological evidence we will try and establish how a revolution in agriculture in Anglo-Saxon England led to a surge in population and fueled the growth of towns and markets.
 
“Here at the University of Leicester, we will be studying the stresses and strains on cattle bones from archaeological sites to establish when and where the heavy-plough was introduced. This was a major technological innovation which enabled more land to be brought into cultivation and increased the production of cereal grains.”
 
Helena Hamerow, Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford and the project’s Principal Investigator, said: “This project will help us understand how farmers in medieval England were able to grow more food to feed an expanding population sustainably at a time of climatic warming. The spread of the heavy, mouldboard plough – a technology that English farmers adopted from their European neighbours – was a key factor and analysing cattle bones will enable us to trace its spread.”
 
Three key innovations made the increase in yields during the period possible: 
·         widespread adoption of the mouldboard plough, which enabled farmers to cultivate heavier, more fertile soils;
·         crop rotation, e.g. planting with winter wheat followed by spring barley;
·         extensification of cultivation, whereby fertility was maintained by short fallow periods during which sheep grazed on the stubble, rather than by intensive manuring
 
In order to improve efficiency and share resources, people had to live in close proximity, leading to the formation of the nucleated villages, set amid extensive arrays of strip fields that can still be seen in many parts of the countryside today.
 
In this way, innovations in farming transformed large parts of the England’s landscape and with it, its social geography.
 
As part of the project, a suite of over 400 radiocarbon dates on charred cereals, bones and pollen cores will make it possible to locate the origins and spread of open fields in time and space.
Patterns emerging from these bioarchaeological data will then be compared with the evidence from excavated farms to explore the inter-relationship between arable production, stock management and settlement forms.
 
Analysis of crop stable isotopes in preserved cereal grains will enable the team to assess the degree to which productivity was boosted by manuring.
 
Weed flora will also reveal the extent to which fields were manured and tilled, as well as providing evidence of sowing times and crop rotation. 
 
The lower limb bones of cattle will be examined for pathologies caused by pulling a heavy plough. Pollen data will reveal the changing impact of cereal farming on the medieval landscape and will be used to produce the first national model of early medieval land use. 

 

2019 APWG meeting announcement – Tartu, Estonia

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The 7th meeting of the ICAZ Animal Palaeopathology Working Group will be held at the Department of Archaeology, Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu in Tartu, Estonia, between 23–26 May, 2019.

In addition to oral and poster presentations there will be a traditional “hands-on” session, visit to the animal anatomy museum, and a field trip.

Call for abstracts and a general outline of the program will be announced in fall 2018.

For any queries, please contact:

Eve Rannamäe, University of Tartu / University of York, everannamae@gmail.com or icaz.apwg@gmail.com

APWG update

The Working Group held a committee meeting at the conference in San Rafael. At the meeting, Richard Thomas stood down as ICAZ liaison for the group and was replaced by Erika Gal who has agreed to serve in the role until 2016. Richard extended his thanks to all members of the group (past and present) for their support during his 15 years in the role. Although the committee has been organised fairly loosely in the past it was agreed that tenure should last for the period between meetings (every three years). There is currently one space available on the committee, so if you would like to join us and help in the organisation of meetings, promoting animal palaeopathology through the website and organising publications, then please get in touch with Erika.

The committee are very keen to develop content on this blog. If you would like to contribute perhaps with information about new projects or puzzling pathologies, do get in touch with Fay Worley who manages the site.

The next meeting of the APWG will be held in Budapest on May 26-29, 2016. Its aim is to offer the usual forum for researchers involved in the study of pathologies on animal bones from archaeological sites, and to encourage international and interdisciplinary discourse. The meeting will take place at several venues within and outside of Budapest. These include the Archaeological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Veterinary Science in Budapest, and a field trip to Szentendre and/or Visegrád. Further information will be provided on the APWG website in due course.We hope to see some of you there!