Zooarchaeology @ Nottingham

Cervids and Society


This website was created with support from the AHRC's Research Leave scheme

Zooarchaeology has made perhaps the most important contribution to our understanding of the postglacial dispersal of fallow deer. Several period- and region-specific studies have been undertaken, providing important insights about how, when and why the distribution of fallow deer expanded (see Further Reading below). However, a diachronic overview of the evidence is required and, to achieve this, we have developed a searchable database containing archaeological records of fallow deer presence/absence, skeletal representation and metrics.

The raw data were collated during 2007-8 from all available published and 'grey' zooarchaeological literature for Europe and Anatolia (Mesolithic to Post-medieval): this work was supported by the University of Nottingham's New Researchers' Fund. In 2009 the AHRC funded a project to disseminate these results and the fallow deer is one of the products of this initiative. This resource enables researchers to:
  • Review the representation of fallow deer in different regions and time periods
  • Check identifications through metrical comparison
  • Examine shifts in fallow deer size and skeletal conformation
  • Consider hunting and management strategies
Case-studies showing the use of the database are presented in Sykes and Carden (submitted) and Sykes, Carden and Harris (submitted).

Further Reading

Bökönyi, S. 1971. 'Angaben zum frühholozänen vorkommen des damhirsches, Cervus (Dama) dama (Linné, 1758), in Europa', Säugetierkundliche Mitteilungen 19, 206-217

Chapman, N. and Chapman, D.1975. Fallow Deer: Their History, Distribution and Biology. Lavenham: Terence Dalton.

Davis, S.J.M. and Mackinnon, M. 2009. 'Did the Romans bring fallow deer to Portugal?', Environmental Archaeology 14(1), 15-26.

Fabiš, M. 2003. 'Troia and fallow deer', 263-276 in G. A. Wagner, E. Pernicka and H-P Uerpmann (eds), Troia and the Troad: Scientific Approaches. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Lepetz, S. and Yvinec, J-H. 2002. 'Présence d'espèces animales d'origine méditerranéennes en France du nord aux périodes romaine et médiévale: actions anthropiques et mouvements naturels', 33-43 in A. Gardeisen (ed.), Mouvements ou Déplacements de Populations Animales en Méditerranée au cours de l'Holocène. BAR International Series 1017, Oxford: Archaeopress.

Lister, A.M. 1984. 'Evolutionary and ecological origins of British deer', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Section B 82(4), 205-29.

Masseti, M. 1996. 'The postglacial diffusion of the genus Dama Frisch, 1775, in the Mediterranean region', Supplemento alle Ricerche di Biologia della Selvaggina 25, 7-29.

Masseti, M. 2002. Island of Deer: Natural History of the Fallow deer of Rhodes and the vertevrates of the Dodecanese (Greece). Rhodes: Environmental Organisation.

Masseti, M., Cavallaro, A., Pecchioli, E. and Vernesi, C. 2006. 'Artificial occurrence of the fallow deer Dama dama dama (L., 1758), on the island of Rhodes (Greece): insight from mtDNA Analysis', Human Evolution 21(2), 167-176.

Schmid, E. 1965. 'Damhirsche im römischeb Augst', Ur-Schweiz 29,53-63.

Sykes, N.J. 2004. 'The introduction of fallow deer (Dama dama) to Britain: a zooarchaeological perspective', Environmental Archaeology 9, 75-83.

Sykes, N.J. in press. 'Fallow deer', 51-58 in T. O'Connor T and N.J. Sykes (eds), Extinctions and Invasions: A Social History of British Fauna. Oxford: Windgather Press.

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. and Carden, R. submitted. Were fallow deer spotted in Anglo-Saxon England?', Medieval Archaeology.

Sykes, N. J., Carden, R. and Harris, K. submitted. 'Changes in fallow deer size and shape – evidence for the movement and management of a species', International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.

Yannouli, E. and Trantalidou, K. 1999. 'The fallow deer (Dama dama Linnaeus, 1758): archaeological presence and representation in Greece', 247-282 in N. Benecke (ed.), The Holocene History of the European Vertebrate Fauna. Rahden/Westf: Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH.