Object of the Week: Archaeologists have been looking at tooth eruption and wear on cattle teeth from Iron Age and Viking Scotland. This week we bring you a couple of molars
These Iron Age calf teeth from Orkney are two of the remains taken from 12 Mine Howe cattle – who grazed during the mid-Iron Age – and nine Earl’s Bu animals, of the Viking to late Norse period. They are being used by zooarchaeologists to find out more about ancient farming techniques in the region.
The sampling marks, used to carry out isotopic analysis at the Stable Light Isotope Facility at the University of Bradford, are visible on the molar enamel.
Experts from The Archaeology Institute University of the Highlands and Islands examined first, second and third molars from the animals, as well as 29 mandibles from sheep of different ages spread across the two sites.
They found that herding systems in north Orkney indicate manorial estates and a central management system for farming before the 12th century. But one of the key conclusions was that these artefacts have a great deal to tell historians in any future research.
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