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Detecting the medieval cod trade: a new method and first results
Barrett, J.; Johnstone, C.; Harland, J.; Van Neer, W.; Ervynck, A.; Makowiecki, D.; Heinrich, D.; Hufthammer, A.K.; Bødker Enghoff, I.; Amundsen, C.; Christiansen, J.S.; Jones, A.K.G.; Locker, A.; Hamilton-Dyer, S.; Jonsson, L.; Lougas, L.; Roberts, C.; Richards, M. (2008). Detecting the medieval cod trade: a new method and first results. J. Archaeol. Sci. 35(4): 850-861.
In: Journal of Archaeological Science. Elsevier: London. ISSN 0305-4403, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 279803 [ OMA ]

    Gadus morhua Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Fish trade; Cod; Middle Ages; Europe; Stable isotopes; Zooarchaeology; Provenance

Authors  Top 
  • Barrett, J.
  • Johnstone, C.
  • Harland, J.
  • Van Neer, W., more
  • Ervynck, A., more
  • Makowiecki, D.
  • Heinrich, D.
  • Hufthammer, A.K.
  • Bødker Enghoff, I.
  • Amundsen, C.
  • Christiansen, J.S.
  • Jones, A.K.G.
  • Locker, A.
  • Hamilton-Dyer, S.
  • Jonsson, L.
  • Lougas, L.
  • Roberts, C.
  • Richards, M.

    This paper explores the potential of stable isotope analysis to identify the approximate region of catch of cod by analysing bones from medieval settlements in northern and western Europe. It measures the d13C and d15N values of cod bone collagen from medieval control samples collected from sites around Arctic Norway, the North Sea, the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. These data were considered likely to differ by region due to, for example, variation in the length of the food chain, water temperature and salinity. We find that geographical structuring is indeed evident, making it possible to identify bones from cod caught in distant waters. These results provide a new methodology for studying the growth of long-range trade in dried cod and the related expansion of fishing effort—important aspects of the development of commercialisation in medieval Europe. As a first test of the method, we analyse three collections of cod bones tentatively interpreted as imported dried fish based on a priori zooarchaeological criteria. The results tentatively suggest that cod were being transported or traded over very long distances since the end of the first millennium AD.

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