Interpreting Urban Food Supply and Distribution Systems from Faunal Assemblages: An Example from Colonial Massachusetts

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Animal bone assemblages from four historical sites in eastern Massachusetts are analysed in a comparative framework to interpret aspects of urban food systems. Characteristics of the urban environment and the nature of food supply and exchange systems are interpreted from taxonomic representation, body part representation, butchery patterns, and age and seasonal slaughtering patterns. These analyses show that specialized husbandry to supply urban markets was limited during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and that many aspects of urban food distribution systems followed traditional rural patterns. A model that explores the relation between patterning of bone collections and characteristics of urban areas is applicable to other studies of urban assemblages.

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International Journal of Osteoarchaeology