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Animal keeping and the use of animal products in medieval Emden (Lower Saxony, Germany)

15 April 2010

Promotie: mw. J.M. Grimm, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Proefschrift: Animal keeping and the use of animal products in medieval Emden (Lower Saxony, Germany)

Promotor(s): prof.dr. H.R. Reinders, prof.dr. W.H. Zimmerman

Faculteit: Letteren

Contact: Jessica Grimm, tel. 00 44 1722 416 961, e-mail:

Animal keeping and the use of animal products in medieval Emden (Lower Saxony, Germany)

The animal bones that form the basis of Grimm’s thesis were collected during several excavations in the historic town centre of Emden. Analysis showed that the animal products produced and consumed mainly derived from cattle, sheep and pig. Poultry, fish and molluscs were also regularly part of the diet. Hunting wild mammals did not substantially contribute to the diet. Changes in species proportions, age at slaughter and phenotype showed that agricultural practices, the environment and population increase influenced animal husbandry. The archaeological material showed that the meat of the animals was consumed, secondary products like milk, wool, manure and traction were used and that leather, bone, horn and antler were valued raw materials.

The zooarchaeological analysis has shown that complete carcasses were processed within the town centre of Emden. Animals were thus brought in on the hoof and subsequently slaughtered. A proportion of the animals, however, were kept locally. Stable areas in some houses as well as the presence of foetal animal bone material form the evidence for this. It is likely that the production of animal products moved more and more out of the town from the 12th-13th century onwards.

The results of the zooarchaeological analysis do not support the view that certain excavation areas can be linked to socially different strata of the population. The analysis does show that Emden was a typical medieval coastal site which compares well with Hedeby, Schleswig, Bremen, Dokkum and Groningen. Grimm’s thesis can be used as a bench mark to aid further zooarchaeological research in the area.

Last modified:13 March 2020 01.14 a.m.
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