Evidence from bones and teeth - answers page

Male or female deer?

Fig. 3.2 Fallow deer skeleton

Fig. 3.5 Scatter Chart


1. If you found an astragulus with GL = 35 mm and BD = 22.5 mm what sex would it be?

That would be female

2. How do you account for the variation within the male and female clusters?

The size will depend on the animal's age at death and natural differences within the species.

3. Fallow deer bones found at Fishbourne Palace in Sussex were predominantly male. They appear to have been in enclosed park land in Roman times. Why might they be mostly male?

Possibly because the male animals were more decorative or impressive with their antlers. Another possibility is that females were kept in different place to control breeding. You might have other ideas. The Romans brought deer to Britain from Europe and were the first to enclose animals in what we would now call park land.

4. Why are teeth so archaeologically well preserved?

Dental enamel is the hardest substance in the body. It is resistant to most decay processes after death.

5. One of the deer found at Fishbourne in Sussex was almost 13 years old. We don’t think the Romans milked deer, so why were they kept so long?

There could be many reasons. The animals may have been a status symbol, so having more would have meant higher status. They may have been kept for breeding, or they may have been treated like pets in a family. You may have other suggestions.


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Fig. 3.1
A fallow deer astragulus with greatest length (GL) and distal breadth (Bd) shown.

Fig. 3.3 Female fallow deer

Fig. 3.4 male fallow deer