Centralization at Asine during the Bronze Age from a zooarchaeological perspective
Stella Macheridis Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry 17.2 (2017): 159-174
From at least the Late Neolithic through the end of the Bronze Age and onwards, people continued to inhabit the settlement of Asine. For this reason, the site makes an interesting starting point for discussing long term change. This short paper presents new data on the animal bones from Bronze Age Asine. The data set is used for a zooarchaeological discussion of the site from a diachronic perspective in terms of centralization and regional change. This has not been attempted previously. Zooarchaeological patterns from urban or central sites in other parts of the world are compiled as a framework for this purpose. The focus is on patterns of relative taxonomic abundances, anatomical distribution, mortality curves and sex distributions of cattle, sheep/goat and pigs. These are examined specifically for the animal bone assemblage from Bronze Age Asine. Differences and/or similarities with the general trends indicative of centralization are discussed for the study site. The results show that the Early Helladic Asine should be seen as a smaller rural site. The even relative abundances of cattle, sheep, goat and pigs indicate that the animal management was not specialized but rather mixed, pointing the site was relatively independent in terms of animal management. The increase in sheep/goat during the Middle Helladic indicates an increasing dependency on animals yielding secondary products, symptomatic of regional and centralized organization. This supports the archaeological evidence of the site, indicating that it was an important village to its immediate valley during this period. This function persisted during the Late Bronze Age. From a zooarchaeological perspective, it is not likely that Asine was a regional center. Some degree of sustainable animal management was probably existent near or at the site. I propose that Asine should be seen as an intermediary key site in the communication system as well as for the exchange of animals.