Dr. Rémi Berthon, Alumni


Dr. Rémi Berthon (France, 1982)

M.A. in Prehistory and Museology

PhD project
Animal Exploitation in the Upper Tigris Valley (Turkey) between the 3rd and the Middle of the 1st Millennia B.C.
Due to a lack of archaeological studies, the prehistory and the ancient history of the Upper Tigris River valley (in Southern Turkey) have been insufficiently investigated until recently. During the last decade, numerous research projects have been carried out in this area in order to document its cultural heritage, which will be flooded by the lake of the Ilisu Dam in the near future. Despite the recent increase of archaeological investigations between the cities of Bismil and Siirt, many important fields of research haven’t been targeted yet. This is the case for one of the main socioeconomic components of ancient societies: the exploitation of resources from animal origin. This large field of research encompasses many issues related to, among others, the use of the landscape, the economic system and the existence of cultural constraints.

In order to answer such questions, the faunal remains from seven settlements were studied. These sites are located on the banks of the Tigris, Botan and Bitlis Rivers. Assemblages were selected from layers dated from the 3rd to the 1st millennia BC. This chronological range has the advantage of being represented in all the selected sites. It was also a period of rapid changes in the political background of the region, with well-defined economic and cultural entities. The study of the faunal remains enables a comparison of all these settlements in terms of subsistence strategies and socioeconomic choices. It appeared that a diversity of animal exploitation patterns existed in all the chronological phases considered. Besides the exploitation of the main domestic mammals such as cattle, pig, sheep and goat, the exploitation of red deer and equid were also important variables. It is argued here that this variability is related to particular choices made by the communities inhabiting these settlements. Depending on the period, these choices seem to have been influenced by local environmental conditions on the one hand and economic specializations on the other hand. The variability in the patterns of animal exploitation should be taken into account when the issue of subsistence strategy is discussed on an inter-regional scale.

Indeed, the Upper Tigris area and especially the small rural settlements studied here show a picture much less homogeneous than expected. It is also argued that small settlements embedded in a rural environment should also be studied in addition to the main large urban settlements. These smaller settlements played an important role in the socioeconomic complexity of the Bronze and the Iron Age. Finally, it is argued that small faunal assemblages have a great analytical value when they are studied by the same researcher in order to increase the possibility for comparisons. Considering several assemblages together, as is possible in the case of large-scale salvage programs, enables the researcher - with the help of multivariate analyses - to confirm the reliability of the patterns observed.

Dissertation available on:
Post-doc project French-German Project (Funded by the ANR and the DFG): "MINES" (Salt, copper, gold: Early mining in the Caucasus).
Research interests Zooarchaeology, Ancient Near East archaeology, pastoralism, ancient economy, food production, herd management, animal ressources, paleo-environment, social and ritual practices involving animals, ethnoarchaeology.
Post PhD Position Maître de conférences du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (Paris)

2005 - 2007
MA in Prehistory. Muséum National d´Histoire Naturelle, Paris. Graduated with honors. Dissertation: "Study of the faunal remains from the Bronze Age levels of Tilbeshar (Gaziantep / Turkey) 2005 and 2006 seasons". Supervisor: Dr. M. Mashkour.

2004 - 2005
BA in Archaeology. University Paris 1 Sorbonne. Major in Ancient Near East Archaeology. Graduated with honors.

2004 - 2005
BA in Museology. Ecole du Louvre, Paris. Graduated with honors. Dissertation: "Etude, conservation et restauration des ivoires du Proche-Orient ancien."

2000 - 2004
BA in Art History. Ecole du Louvre, Paris. Major in Ancient Near East Studies.

Work experience

Kavuşan Höyük Excavations (Turkey). Dir. Pr. G. Közbe, Ege Üniversitesi, Izmir. • Faunal remains analysis (Bronze and Iron Age).

Ziyaret Tepe Excavations (Turkey). Dir. Dr. T. Matney, Akron University. • Analysis of the Medieval levels´ faunal remains.

Atchana Excavations (Turkey). Dir. Pr. A. Yener, Oriental Institute Chicago. • Faunal remains analysis (Bronze Age).

2007 - 2008
Hirbemerdon Excavations (Turkey). Dir. Dr. N. Laneri, University Catania. • Faunal remains analysis (from Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age). • Involvement in the survey of the site catchment area (Dir. Dr. J. Ur, Harvard University)

2006 - 2007
Ovçular Tepesi Excavations (Nakhitchevan / Azerbaidjan). Dir. Dr. C. MArro, CNRS. • Trench Supervisor (Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age). • Supervisor for sampling, sieving and floating botanical

Çadir Höyük Excavations (Turkey). Dir. Dr. R. Gorny, Chicago University. • Resumption of a sector of the stratigraphic sounding. • Sorting out the faunal remains in collaboration with Dr.B. Arbuckle (Harvard University)

Tilbeshar Excavations (Turkey). Dir. Dr. Ch. Kepinski, CNRS. • Trench co-supervisor (Early and Middle Bronze Age) • Zooarchaelogical traineeship under the direction of Dr. M. Mashkour, CNRS.

Muséum National d´Histoire Naturelle, Paris. Laboratory `Archézoologie´ (UMR 5197, CNRS). • Zooarchaelogical traineeship under the direction of Dr. M . MAshkour, CNRS.

Kerkenes Excavations (Turkey). Dir. Dr. G. Summers, METU University Ankara. • Excavations and material processing (Iron Age).

Selected publications

In press
Vonderstrasse T., Matney, T., Berthon, R.: Medieval levels of Ziyaret Tepe, South-East Anatolia, Turkey.

Berthon, R.,: Animal Exploitation in the Upper Tigris River Valley during the Bronze Age: A First Assessment from Hirbemerdon Tepe. In: Mashkour, M. and Beech, M. (eds.): Archaeozoology of the Near East IX.

Berthon, R.,: Animal Exploitation in the Upper Tigris River Valley during the Middle Bronze Age: A First Comparison of Hirbemerdon Tepe and Kenan Tepe / Yukarı Dicle Vadisi'nde Orta Tunç Çağı'nda Hayvan Kullanımı: Hirbemerdon Tepe ve Kenan Tepe'nin Karşılaştırması. In: Erciyas, D. B. (ed.) Studies in Southeastern Anatolia Graduate Symposium / Güney Doğu Anadolu Araştırmaları Sempozyumu. Istanbul, Ege Yayınları.

Berthon, R.: Anthropozoology and Archaeozoology in the Ancient World, 9th ASWA International Conference, 16-20 November 2008, Al-'Ain, United Arab Emirates. Anthropology of the Middle East 4/1: 118-120.

Berthon, R., Mashkour, M.: Tilbeşar Excavations' Faunal Remains. Arkeometri Sonuçları Toplantıs, 24: 347-62.

Laneri, N., Schwartz, M., Ur, J., Valentini, S., D´Agostino, A., Berthon, R., Hald, M. M.: The Hirbemerdon Tepe archaeological project 2006-2007: A preliminary report on the Middle Bronze Age, architectural complex‘ and the survey of the site catchment area. Anatolica 34: 177-240.

Berthon R., Mashkour, M.: Animal remains from Tilbeşar excavations, Southeast Anatolia, Turkey. Anatolia Antiqua 16: 23-51.


February 2006
Head of the organization comittee: "3ème Rencontres Doctorales Orient-Express", Maison de l´Orient et de la Méditerranée, Lyon.

2004 - 2006
President of the Orient-Express association. Orient-Express periodical (Ancient Near East)

December 2003 - June 2004
Traineeship at the Oriental Antiquities Department, Musée du Louvre. • Collaboration with A. Caubet to the setting up of the exhibition "Ivoires, de l´Orient ancien aux Temps Modernes". • Involvement in the conception of the exhibition catalogue.

November 2003
Introducing the Ancient Near East museum´s collections.