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Interpreting the Plant and Animal Remains from Viking-age Kaupang

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Aarhus University Press
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untitled 2831 4 . b a r r e t t e t a l . : p l a n t a n d a n i m a l r e m a i n s 14.1 Introduction This chapter surveys the recovery, analysis and inter- pretation of plant remains, insect remains and ani- mal bones from the main research excavations of 2002 and the harbour excavation of 2003 at Kaupang. Almost all of the material is from Site Periods I–III (SP I-III) and thus dates to the early 9th century (Pilø, this vol. Ch. 9). Most of it, excavated in 2002, is from Plots 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B (henceforth referred to as “1A–3B”) but small-scale study has also been made of material originally deposited in the set- tlement’s harbour, which was excavated in 2003. Cross-reference will be made to work on plant re- mains, insect remains and animal bones recovered during cultural resource management (CRM) exca- vations conducted in 2000 (Hufthammer and Brat- bak 2000; Buckland et al. 2001). The ecofactual material from Kaupang can in- form interpretation of the settlement in a variety of ways. It is possible to characterise the nature of spe- cific deposits, such as occupation deposits and pit fills, to shed some light on the seasonality and perma- nence of the settlement, to evaluate the local econo- my and the site’s articulation with its hinterland, to illuminate the character of long-range trade and to place the occupation of Kaupang within a wider comparative context. The range of interpretations possible is enhanced by the survival of some deposits preserved by anoxic waterlogging, principally pit fills. Unfortunately, however, the breadth and depth of interpretation is also severely limited by the small number of deposits preserved in this way, particularly in comparison with some other Viking-age and later medieval urban sites (e.g. Schia 1988; Kenward and Hall 1995). Moreover, bone preservation at Kaupang is extremely poor. Most of what survives has been burnt and highly fragmented. Were it not for the crit- ical importance of Kaupang to the history of Viking- age Eur

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