Saturday, March 4, 2017

Animals of Castro de Chibanes (Periera, Soares, Tavares da Silva, 2017)

This paper examines the animal remains at Castro de Chibanes, mostly before the Beaker period.  Lots of young pigs, goats and wild rabbit remains along with fish and some birds.   They probably milked some goats.

Most of the butchered animals are domestics, but really very few cattle remains and some of those are rather big, which they are unable to eliminate the auroch.

University College London, [Link]

Understanding the First Chalcolithic Communities of Estremadura: Zooarchaeology of Castro de Chibanes, Portugal. Preliminary Results



Vera Pereira 


Joaquina Soares


Carlos Tavares da Silva


This study integrates archaeological, zooarchaeological and taphonomic results from the Chalcolithic, the earliest chronological period from the excavations at Castro de Chibanes (Palmela, Portugal). Preliminary results from the “Horizonte IA” (Phase IA1 and IA2), regarding the first half of the 3rd millennium BC will be presented.
The faunal assemblage consists of a total of 858 remains. These predominantly comprise of domestic mammals – particularly pigs, sheep and goats – which are interpreted as food supply. With low percentages of wild game, animal husbandry emerges as a central activity for these populations, complimented by marine fishing. In addition, small game hunting – mainly of lagomorphs and a few birds – is also identified.
As at other archaeological sites in the region, the material culture suggests that Castro de Chibanes can be ascribed to the cultural domain of the pre-Bell Beaker Chalcolithic of Estremadura. Particularly comparative sites include Leceia, Zambujal and Penedo do Lexim, also fortified settlements with high rates of domestic livestock (suids and caprines) and extremely low percentages of wild game, in particular red deer.


  1. * Weird map. The relationship of the inset black and white map to color map beneath it is quite awkward.

    * The absence or dramatically reduced frequency of domesticated cattle is the real important piece here. This means that the Bell Beaker folk who follow are providing not only metallurgy expertise but cattle husbandry expertise and domesticates.

    * The central role of cattle is also a factor that plays to my admittedly speculative connection between Minoan and Bell Beaker cultures. Both give an outsized role to cattle, in contrast to IE cultures which are blown away in the symbolic sphere by horses giving cattle a decidedly secondary role. I think that the Iberian tradition of bull fighting and the running of the bulls are both residual cultural traces of this. (Also, Minoan, Basque and pre-Hittite Anatolian cultures all seem to place an emphasis on Chthonic gods, while IE gods are predominantly sky gods.)

    * Are you aware of any archaeological evidence regarding horses, wagons or chariots in Bell Beaker Europe, or for that matter cultural material culture images of the same? The presence or absence of this, and the detailed nature of these items (e.g. in terms of construction style and horse breeds) could conceivably be one way of evaluating whether the Yamanya-like autosomal genetics that appear in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker culture is culturally IE. My impression is that horses play a less central role in Bell Beaker culture than they do in the contemporaneous Corded Ware culture, but, as always, I am happy to be corrected in areas of my own knowledge base is thin.

    * While the Vasconic language could conceivable be a holdover from the Chalcolithic farmers of Portugal adopted by male dominated pre-Bell Beaker people from their wives, rather than the language of the migrant men adopted by others via elite dominance, the same cannot be said for the cultural role of cattle - which can not be a holdover from the Chalcolithic farming society.

    1. I know that in the pre-Bell Beaker phase of Western Iberia the domestic ass is present. Horse remains are found in some Central European sites. So they probably had horses, but to what degree or how they were used I don't think is known.
      But cattle seems very important to Beaker sites and diet, so its relative unimportance in a pre-Beaker site is notable.