Department of Archaeology


Naomi Sykes

Animals have always been central to the creation, use and perception of cultural landscapes. Physically, the location and form of settlements, roads and enclosures reflect human-animal interactions. In other cases animals may play a more psychological role in the construction of landscapes; their visual, audio and physical qualities providing media through which humans might experience and understand the world around them. Despite this, landscape researchers have all too often removed animals from the equation, seeing humans as the only significant agent in landscape construction.

Through animal bone analysis, this project seeks to put animals back into ancient landscapes and highlight how evidence for human-animal-landscape interactions can provide a key to understanding past societies.


Animalscapes and Empire

Iron Age/Roman landscape

With funding from the AHRC's Landscape and Environment Programme and in collaboration with the Sussex Archaeological Society this collaborative PhD project, undertaken by Martyn Allen, is investigating the Animalscapes of the Iron Age/Romano-British transition: can zooarchaeological evidence inform on if or how the Conquest of AD 43 impacted the way people perceived and engaged with the world around them? Details of this project will be presented at our conference 'Challenging perceptions of Landscape in Archaeology' Sept 13-14, 2008, University of Chichester.

Image: The Iron Age/Roman landscape under consideration in the Animalscapes and Empire Project.



Hunting landscapes in Roman and Medieval England

Hare bones from Whitehall Roman Villa

Linked to the Fallow Deer Project, we are considering how the arrival of this new species influenced the management and perception of landscape - on the basis of our results for the fallow deer from Fishbourne Roman Palace it has been possible to tentatively identify a Roman deer park, or vivarium, to the south of the palace. Similar investigations of animals and landscape are being undertaken for Whitehall Roman Villa, Northamptonshire: analysis of the zooarchaeological assemblage from this site has revealed an exceptionally high percentage of hare bones - perhaps evidence for the presence of a leporarium within the landscape? Understanding how the use and perception of these hunting landscapes changed through the early and later medieval period is also key to this project.

Image: Just some of the many hare bones from Whitehall Roman Villa - evidence of Roman hare farming?


For further details see

Sykes, N. J. 2005 'Hunting for the Normans: zooarchaeological evidence for medieval identity', in A. Pluskowski (ed.) Just Skin and Bones? New Perspectives on Human-Animal Relations in the Historic Past, BAR, British Series, Oxford: BAR.

Sykes, N. J., White, J., Hayes, T. and Palmer, M. 2006. 'Tracking animals using strontium isotopes in teeth: the role of fallow deer (Dama dama) in Roman Britain'. Antiquity 80, 948-959.

Sykes, N. J. 2007 The Norman Conquest: A Zooarchaeological Perspective (BAR International Series) Oxford: Archaeopress.

Sykes, N. J., 2007. Animal bones and animal parks, inR. Liddiard (ed.) The Medieval Park: new perspectives. Windgather Press: Macclesfield.

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Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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