Animal Palaeopathology Working Group

Between the 23rd and 28th August 2002 the International Council for Archaeozoology are hosted their 9th conference at the University of Durham, England.

On behalf of the APWG Jessica Davis (University of Sheffield), Richard Thomas (University of Birmingham) and Marian Fabis (University of Nitra) organised a session entitled:

Beyond 'interesting specimens': palaeopathology and its contribution to the study of animal husbandry

sponsored by the Wellcome Trust

In this session papers were given that went beyond the approach of merely describing pathology and demonstrated its potential for providing a significant contribution to the understanding of animal husbandry. The session abstract is presented below:

"The relegation of pathological observations to little more than a brief description, which is typically lacking in integration with the rest of the evidence, is unfortunately a frequent occurrence in animal bone reports. There has been a general tendency for pathologies to be reported as "an interesting case of x" rather than any attempt to understand their archaeological implication. For example, it can often be read in site reports that there were 'x' cases of a particular condition were recorded. The conditions are often described, accompanied by a plate and given a diagnosis that is usually followed by a reference to Baker and Brothwell (1980). However there is invariably no attempt at calculating the prevalence of that condition, nor any attempt to understand the implication for human-animal relationships - the very rationale of zooarchaeology. Such an approach has meant that there is a general consensus that the study of animal palaeopathology is of limited potential in providing information regarding animal husbandry".

The proceedings of this conference have now been published, details can be found by clicking here.