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Bioarchaeology at the Tell-Site Vrbjanska Čuka in Pelagonia, Republic of Macedonia: analytical results from field season 2016

Beneš, Jaromír; Naumov, Goce; Budilová, Kristýna; Bumerl, Jiří; Živaljević, Ivana; Dimitrijević, Vesna; Komárková, Veronika; Kovárník, Jaromír; Majerovičová, Tereza; Vychronová, Michaela; Stefanović, Sofija

The presentation focuses on archaeobotanical and archaeozoological evidence in the context of the tell-site Vrbjanska Čuka, Republic of Macedonia, where a joint Macedonian-Czech-Serbian team is performing detailed bioarchaeological research. In the field season 2016, selected contexts from the site were sampled for multiproxy analyses including botanical macroremains and microremains (starch, phytoliths), and faunal remains were collected from all contexts. Archaeobotanical research focused on samples from profile W1 in the western wall of excavated area, and randomly taken samples from other contexts indicative of the Neolithic, Classical and Medieval occupancy of the site. Macroremains analysis detected typical species for the Neolithic period (einkorn, emmer, barley, lentil, peas) and species typical in later (Classical or Medieval) periods (e.g. millet, rye). Investigation of plant phytoliths revealed good quality of microremains. Starch analysis was carried on grindstones from Neolithic contexts. Such grains could be interpreted as food remains.
The hand collected faunal sample, albeit small, is indicative of a predominantly stockbreeding economy. The majority of elements originate from domestic animals – namely cattle and caprines, and to a lesser extent pig and dog. The presence of dogs on site is also manifested by several bones with gnawing marks. A single element from wild boar suggests that occasional hunting also took place. Shells of freshwater mussel were also identified, originating from a single context and thus probably represent remnants of a meal. Faunal sample collected by flotation consisted of smaller bone fragments and isolated teeth of previously identified mammal taxa. In addition, sporadic remains of rodents, amphibians, reptiles and smaller fish (small-bodied cyprinids and salmonids) were also found. These taxa (apart from fish) were probably not used in human diet, but were inhabiting the environment of Vrbjanska Čuka. Given their minute size and a fairly small number of remains, it might be suggested that fishing occupied a secondary role in comparison to stockbreeding, and possibly represented a sporadic or opportunistic activity.

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