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Från ben till boskap: Kosthåll och djurhållning med utgångspunkt imedeltida benmaterial från Skara
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.
1997 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Diet and stock raising in medieval society is studied through the animal osteological material from different parts of Sweden. This dissertation is based on the analysis results of a total of c. 5.5 tons of animal bone from different urban and rural environments. More than 1.5 tons of this material have been analyzed by the author. In this study, emphasis is placed on the conditions that existed in the medieval town of Skara in the province of Västergötland between 1050 and 1400 AD. A number of different osteological variables have been investigated in order to study the problems from a broad spectrum of basic osteological data.

The medieval diet is understood as decidedly based on various animal foodstuff with a generally high degree of household food storage in Skara and in other towns. The most important animal products in this diet were dairy products, beef and fish. Age distribution and sex ratios evidenced in the osteological material indicate that the keeping of beef animals as well as sheep was strongly directed towards the production of milk. However variations appear in different regions of Sweden especially concerning the produce from sheep. In the area of Söderköping in the province of Östergötland, for instance, there was an emphasis on the production of wool in the period prior to c. 1200 AD.

Fish seems to have gained increasing importance in the 1100s. This is understood as having been related to the church´s idealization of fish as a part of the fasting diet. In the 1000s and 1100s, mainly freshwater fish was consumed in the inland town of Skara, along with herring which was imported from Sweden´s west coast. Cod also appears in the second half of the 1100s which indicates that the local resources alone were no longer sufficient, and also that the transportation of daily products over longer distances was becoming a more established part of the food supply structure.

One of the important results of this study, which may be tied to larger social changes and especially to agricultural development, are the signs of new cultivations and deforestation which are indirectly mirrored in the osteological material from Skara as well as in other places. We can follow a development in colonization in the first centuries of the Medieval period which seems to have stagnated in the mid-1200s.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholms universitet , 1997. , 192 p.
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-40084ISBN: 91-85884-88-XOAI: diva2:322546
Public defence
1997-04-18, Stockholm, 14:19
Available from: 2010-06-07 Created: 2010-06-07 Last updated: 2010-06-08Bibliographically approved

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