meeting of the ICAZ Roman Period Working Group edition:1st location:Sheffield (England) date:20 - 22 November 2014
The hypotheses explaining the changes in husbandry practices in Gaul slightly before its conquest and particularly the increase in domestic animal size, are numerous. The import of large domestic animals from Italy or elsewhere, whether associated with the passing on of new zootechnical expertise or not, or the adaptation of Gallic societies to the developing Roman economical model; none stand out or exclude the other.
From the comparative study of pig and cattle morphometry, and the stable isotope analysis of pig demographic management in Levroux Les Arènes (Indre, France), our aim is to shed new light on this issue.
Results suggest a complex situation, which evolves and varies according to territory, period or species considered. Cattle size evolves as early as the third century BC. Cattle morphology is locally diverse, whether in Gaul or in Italy, and a deliberate choice of size to fulfil a particular use may have existed. As for pigs, an increase in size is also evident during the Gallic period. Contrary to cattle however, pigs are bigger in Gaul than in Italy; the case study of Levroux Les Arènes shows, as early as the beginning of the second century BC, the implementation of a specific size/weight selection for the specialised production of pork.
The changes in husbandry practices seem therefore to result from an internal evolution within Gallic societies, likely in response to a changing economical context, but based on local herds. It suggests that, as far as husbandry is concerned, the Roman Empire should be considered as the sum of separate geographical entities that followed their own logics and strategies of animal production.