A bird assemblage from a late medieval tower in Tuscany (Italy)


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  • A bird assemblage from a late medieval tower in Tuscany (Italy)

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A bird assemblage from a late medieval tower in Tuscany (Italy)


S5-2, S6-3, General session, oral



The avifauna from the tower of Rocca di Campiglia (Livorno, Italy), which was recovered during a 1996 excavation undertaken by the University of Siena, includes 737 identified specimens. The remains come from two chronological contexts dated to the 13th and 14th centuries. The analyses disclosed important information on the breeding strategies adopted by the inhabitants of the site through time. The assemblage, abundant and fairly diversified, is dominated by domestic fowl (Gallus gallus), together with other domestic and wild species. Statistically significant differences in the frequencies of anatomical elements of domestic fowl of the different periods reflect the shift in the use of the tower from a residence for nobles to a military garrison. The size and shape of domestic fowl, however, did not change through time. Selected anatomical elements have been sampled to estimate the extent of medullary bone development. The analyses reveal the occurrence of only a small number of laying females. The relative proportions of sexes, which was assessed by bivariate scatterplots of measures of the femur, revealed a predominance of hens. The occurrence of a thin layer of medullary bone filling up the marrow cavity of sampled femurs proves that hens were slaughtered at or after the end of the egg laying season.

The high diversity of wild species from this site, including the occurrence of remains of birds of prey as well as their favorite prey species, but also the complete absence of arrowheads, altogether suggests the use of falconry, a practice attested to in both periods. The appearance of geese in the garrison period is associated with important changes in the size of the trained birds.This particularly important site shows the evolution from resident to military use and permits to contribute to our knowledge of the management of the birds during the shift from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance period.

Economic history studies show how important wool trade has been in Europe since the 13th century. This study provides new information on everyday life in Florence as well as its surroundings, from the end of the Middle Ages to the early Renaissance period, i.e. a time when the city started becoming one of world’s primary wool trading centres .




Department of Historical and Geographical Studies, University of Florence, via San Gallo 10, 50129 Florence, Italy, chiara.corbino@gmail.com


Corbino Chiara, Assunta


August 2010

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Corbino Chiara, Assunta. " A bird assemblage from a late medieval tower in Tuscany (Italy) ," in BoneCommons, Item #1053, http://alexandriaarchive.org/bonecommons/items/show/1053 (accessed September 24, 2020).