Exotische Wildtiere im 1. Jt. V. Chr. im Mediterranen Raum und Irland im Archäologischen Befund

Cercetări Arheologice 18-19, 2012, 195-218

Exotische Wildtiere im 1. Jt. V. Chr. im Mediterranen Raum und Irland im Archäologischen Befund

Authors: Mirjam Mahn

Keywords: animal bones; animal products; exotic animals; wild animals; 1st millennium BC; trade; Europe; Archaeozoology


Since the term „exotic” is not recorded before the time of Plautus (um 254-184 v. Chr.) and in both Latin and Greek written sources of the Roman period never appears in connection with animals, it is used in this paper as a terminus technicus. Regarded as exotic will be animals, which by the means of human activity got introduced into regions not belonging to their range of endemic distribution. In antic premonetary european societies animals and their products represented proven values next to other goods. As hard to achieve, expensive rarities exotic animals are usually associated with consume, commerce orientated economy or with prestigious pet owning. In Greece remains of exotic wild animals are closely associated with religious contexts. A Barbary ape found in the settlement of Navan Fort, Northern Ireland, was certainly a valued pet. However the status of the fallow deer western of Greece during the Ist millennium BC is unknown. It remains unclear, whether this species is endemic to southern Italy and Sicily, or got re-imported by Phoenicians and used as a tame resource of meat after a postulated extinction prior to the Bronze Age. Furthermore every picture of long-range trade would be incomplete without regarding the exports leaving Europe. However that is an archaeozoologically sparsely explored subject up to now. During the second half of the lst millennium BC coinage trade gradually substituted traditional exchange trade in the Mediterranean. The decreasing importance of the later most likely had its effect on commerce with animals and their raw material, but is difficult to prove. In Greece this alteration may display itself by a change of offering practice: Subsequent to the Archaic period coin donations superseded individual goods as common offerings. In trade with animals or animal products other economical purposes and ideal values turned more into focus. The customization to exotic valuables associated with luxury created demands, which Phoenicians knew to further develop and the Greeks and later on the Romans appreciated to cultivate. Maybe this tendency led together with other factors towards the since Hellenistic times increasing decadence especially of the Romans, to enjoy the value of rare foreign animals through the stomach or in circus displays and animal hunts.

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How to cite: Mirjam Mahn, Exotische Wildtiere im 1. Jt. V. Chr. im Mediterranen Raum und Irland im Archäologischen Befund, Cercetări Arheologice, Vol. 18-19, pag. 195-218, 2012, doi: https://doi.org/10.46535/ca.18-19.07

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