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Recording the facts : a generic recording system for animal palaeopathology

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:42 by Stephanie Louise Vann
The impact of animal disease on human societies has been highly publicised recently, both as a consequence of diseases that have spread amongst animal populations (e.g. foot and mouth), as well as those that have 'jumped' from animal to human populations (e.g. HIV, bird flu and BSE). Non-disease-related pathologies can also provide much information about human-animal interactions, such as the use of animals for traction or riding. While the human, social and economic effect of such conditions is profound, the study of their impact on past human populations has been widely neglected. This is partly due to the inconsistent manner in which incidences of animal disease (palaeopathology) have been collected, recorded and interpreted which, together with the typically low incidence of specimens per site, has precluded any detailed studies of regional or temporal trends. The aim of this project was to improve the study of animal palaeopathology in order to attain a better appreciation of the potential for such research to resolve archaeological questions. This was to be achieved by designing, developing and implementing a methodology to overcome these problems and enable the past impact of animal disease to be better understood.;The primary objectives were to: Design and develop a generic methodology to facilitate the consistent recognition, recording and description of animal palaeopathological data; implement the methodology within a database system; and apply and critically evaluate the methodology, using assemblages from the Roman legionary fort at Alchester and the Roman town of Colchester, and demonstrate the benefits of adopting a systematic approach to recording animal palaeopathology.


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Archaeology and Ancient History

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University of Leicester

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