Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences / Rethinking the Improvement of Medieval Cities in the Eastern Europe Through “Bone Causeways”

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Journal of Siberian Federal University. Humanities & Social Sciences. 2021 14 (1)
Yavorskaya, Liliya V.
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Yavorskaya, Liliya V.: Institute of Archeology RAS Moscow, Russian Federation; ; ORCID: 0000-0002-5272-7442
archaeozoology; bone causeway; medieval city; taxonomic set; ological spectra; domestic hooved animals; anatomical set; meat trade; leather production; improvement; mass production of cattle products; urbanization

Following the methodological scheme initiated in the Laboratory of Natural Sciences, the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a comparative study of unique phenomenon of medieval urban improvement – animal bones-backed causeways in the central streets – is carried out. Such clusters of bones are the results of archaeological researches in two cities of the Russian north-west area, i.e. Pskov and Novgorod, and in the Golden Horde city of Azak, that is, in completely different natural conditions and cultural contexts. The study is aimed at identifying mutual and specific features of such clusters, their role in the urban improvement, as well as at obtaining the information about possible causes and conditions of their occurrence, additional data on the economy of these regions in the Middle Ages. The study demonstrates, that the conditions for the “causeways” formation and functioning in both cases are generally similar. These clusters are marked with high concentrations of the bone remains, their low fragmentation, ordinary taxonomic set, but with depleted quantitative indicators for all economic categories, except for domestic hooved animals. In the Russian cities, the causeways consist of non-meaty parts of chopped cattle heads, while the Golden Horde city of Azak is characterized with the heads and lower parts of the large and small cattle limbs. The anatomical set clarifies the clusters’ nature: in Russian cities they are the waste left from the meat trade, in the Golden Horde – from the leather production. In the studies cities, the bone fillings were used as a sealing material for the central trading areas and streets improvement. The condition for their occurrence is mass production of cattle products, well-established relations between the cities and agricultural district, and high level of urbanization. It is noted that in the Golden Horde these conditions developed in the 14th century, that is, much earlier than in the Russian cities

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