ossamenta: A flock of sheep from a medieval manuscript (Sheep)
As part of my Ph.D. idea I'm exploring ways to identify castrated sheep from their bones. Castrates were very popular as wool producers, since they grew big and their fleeces weren't affected by hormonal changes from breeding. Medieval records from wool producing flocks show the presence of large numbers of ewes and castrates, but hardly any rams. So if you want to detect wool producing sheep flocks, you want many adult/older ewes and castrates.

I did a study on some sheep skeletons in Denmark many years ago, and wanted to do a follow-up on a different breed, just in case the traits I found on the Danish sheep were breed specific. So today was spent in the stores of English Heritage in Portsmouth, looking at many sheep skeletons. As expected, things weren't totally obvious, but a bit complicated. Still, when I did a blind test, I got almost all sheep correctly sexed. So there is certainly something about my method.

Now I need to put up my notes in a file and send them back to EH, as part of the deal to use their collection is the requirement that they get a record of what I did. And then sort out my next step on my research. It will involve lots of photos, and even more sheep skeletons...
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Yesterday I found the bone of the week. A sheep (or possibly goat, but considering the lack of goats in the assemblage and the presence of several sheep bones, most likely sheep) pelvis that had been fractured across the ischium and pubis*. Unfortunately the rest of the ischium and the pubis couldn't be found in the assemblage. The bone had not healed, but pathological changes show that the animal had survived and lived for several months (?) before it died. I was quite surprised, since this major trauma would have caused a significant limp, which must have been obvious to the sheep herder/owner.

*: For the uninitiated, the pelvis consists of three bones, the ilium (the shaft which attaches to the sacrum), the ischium (to the rear) and the pubis (to the front) which all meet at the hip socket (acetabulum). Well, technically, the pelvis is the sacrum and the two innominate halves, but I'm being lazy here...

Pictures below cut )


ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)

January 2019

  1 2 345


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Mar. 24th, 2019 08:55 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios