Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


4 January 2011

To the shore, back and again: Archaeomalacology at Troia

Canan Çakirlar Studia Troica 18 (2009): 59-86.


The subject matter of this paper is shellfish gathering activity at Troia; what was gathered, how and where; what the role of shellfish gathering was in the economy and diet of the settlement, how this role changed through time, and why. A great resource of over 54,000 archaeomalacological specimens is available to answer these questions. This is the largest archaeomalacological assemblage from the Aegean. All quantitative evidence derives from the results of the new excavations at Troia through the 2005 season. The stratigraphical situation and taphonomy of the mollusk remains, the ecology of the represented species, and ethno-historical and ethnographic analogies have all been instrumental in building a firm and detailed description of the shellfish gathering activity at this habitation site. The first line of argument is based on the changing proportion of molluscan remains in the overall faunal assemblage of Troia throughout its occupational history. Accordingly, shellfish gathering activity appears to have gone through a slow decline from the Early Bronze Age to the Byzantine Period at Troia. The second is based on the changes in the molluscan species spectrum for different time periods in the settlement. Cerastoderma glaucum (lagoon cockle) prevails as the most important species throughout the Bronze Age. In Roman and Byzantine times, O. edulis (European oyster) becomes the preferred mollusk species. The deltaic lagoons of Karamenderes and Dümrek, and the marine embayment of Troia remain as the most exploited shellfishing grounds throughout Troia’s occupational history. Almost all shellfish could have been gathered in shallow coastal or lagoonal waters without specialized technology. A variety of factors may have affected shellfish gathering at Troia: the changing position of the coastline, the evolving substratum of the marine embayment and its diminishing volume and area, climatic changes, and cultural and economic preferences.


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