Systems change: Investigating climatic and environmental impacts on livestock production in lowland Italy between the Bronze Age and Late Antiquity (c. 1700 BC - AD 700)

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Trentacoste, Angela
Nieto Espinet, AriadnaNieto Espinet, Ariadna - ORCID ID
Guimaraes, Silvia
Valenzuela-Lamas, Silvia
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cc-by (c) Trentacoste et al., 2022
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Animal management is shaped by its environmental and landscape context, but these factors are rarely investigated quantitatively in zooarchaeological studies. Here we aim to examine the relationship between trends in zooarchaeological data and environmental and climatic dynamics between the Middle Bronze Age and Late Antiquity in lowland northern Italy (Po–Friulian Plain). This region provides an ideal test case to investigate the impact of landscape variables (precipitation, solar irradiance, elevation, soil characteristics) and climate evolution due to the area's relatively homogenous topography and climatic conditions. This study presents a new elaboration and visualisation of zooarchaeological data from northern Italy, investigates correlations between these data and landscape variables, and contextualises trends in relation to regional environmental and climate proxies at two scales. This analysis reveals a shift towards more heterogeneous livestock on a regional level during the Late Iron Age and Roman period, and strong evidence for a correlation between cattle representation and local soil characteristics at a site-level during the Bronze Age. Consideration of climate data shows little relationship between species representation, livestock body size, and climate proxies, indicating that human social dynamics rather than climate change were the primary driver to changes in animal management on the regional macro-scale.
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Quaternary International, 2022. In Press