Doctoral research student Anja Prust, M.A.

Doctoral research student

Anja Prust (Germany, 1981)

M.A. in Classical Archaeology

PhD project
Continuity, Adaption and Innovation - Livestock Economy of the Roman Mediterranean Provinces (working title).
Over several centuries, Roman territory expanded from a small city-state to a far-reaching Empire that extended from the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula to Mesopotamia, from Great Britain to the deserts of North Africa. The creation of colonies and provinces characterized this remarkable expansion and facilitated the exploitation of new regions and estates. As a result, a process of acculturation took place that influenced urbanization processes, architectural styles, administrative structures and religion in many regions. These aspects have been studied as a part of Roman archaeology. Processes of acculturation also influenced local livestock economies and can be observed in the zooarchaeological record. Agriculture and the trade of goods – regional as well as long-distance trade – decisively characterized ancient economies. The livestock economy of indigenous rural communities focused on a private, self-subsistence economy as well as low-level commercial trade at the markets of the nearest cities. Small holdings with almost no concrete specialization and high species-diversity characterized this kind of private economy. The huge variety of products enabled a stable subsistence base with low risk. The Roman livestock economy focused on productivity, quantity and quality. The increasing demand for agricultural products in huge cities was arranged by market-oriented latifundia located in the surrounding countryside. Specialization in high-value products (fine wool, tender meat…) was distinguished by the exploitation of selected species and specific herding systems. The request for luxury goods – such as marine fish, beasts of prey for entertainment, exclusive saddle horses, etc. – and the dense exchange network facilitated the import and export of animals and animal products. This innovative, more commercial Roman livestock system may have influenced formative local traditional economies, either by the adoption of this system – i.e. as a result of the Romanization of indigenous communities – or by the introduction of this system in newly created Roman colonies throughout the whole Empire.

Through the documentation and the investigation of zooarchaeological finds, the significance and spread of productive livestock can provide insight into economic, environmental and socio-cultural conditions. The PhD project “Continuity, Adaptation, and Innovation – Livestock Economies of Roman Mediterranean Provinces” (working title) focuses on the study of processes of livestock economy over a period of the 3rd century BC to the beginning of the 5th century AD. Analyses of faunal assemblages as well as the evaluation of published zooarchaeological site reports will provide data sets with information for different local contexts (rural, urban, military, indigenous, Roman) through different time periods (pre-Roman, Republican, Imperial, and Late Antique). The evaluation of selected data – such as species diversity, taxonomic distribution by context, frequencies of taxa through time, ratio between wild/domestic species, age profiles – may reflect local economic systems and exploitation strategies (subsistence farming/intensive livestock farming, food production and consumption, resource products, animals as a working source/for companionship and entertainment, distribution/marketing and trade). While similar data over a long time period enables assumptions about local, long-lasting traditional practices, remarkable shifts in the zooarchaeological record – increases in domestic animals, increases/decreases in selected species, rise in size variations, and noticeable changes in age profiles – reflect shifts and innovations in local livestock economy. The regional/supra regional comparison of these local aspects might show unique tendencies that indicate a distinctive livestock system which spread over the whole Empire – consciously introduced by Roman settlers and spontaneously developed as a result of e. g. new potentialities in long-distance trade – and the adaptation of the “Roman” system by indigenous communities. In comparison, independent processes would include continuity in traditional subsistence farming, specialized enterprises based on local resources as well as political, economic or cultural reasons for long-lasting traditional practices. The temporal and spatial frame of this research project allows an investigation of long-term processes of a formerly growing agricultural society over a period of 800 years within a region with different environmental conditions, resources as well as divergent indigenous cultures.

Research interests Zooarchaeology, environmental history, ancient economy and agriculture, food production, ritual use of animals.

Since April 2010
Member of the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” at the Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel

Graduated as Magistra Artium with a thesis about the zooarchaeological proof of animal sacrifice

Studies of Classical Archaeology, Art History, Pre- and Protohistory at the Humboldt University, Berlin

Work experience

Graduate assistant at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Orient-Department

Student assistant at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Orient-Department

Participation in excavations in Gadara/Umm Qais (Jordan) under supervision of Dr. C. Bührig (German Archaeological Institute, Orient-Department) and Dr. G. Schauerte (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Student assistant at the Winckelmann-Institut (Institute of Classical Archaeology, Humboldt University, Berlin)

Student trainee at the Museum of Natural History (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) and at the archaeological heritage office Brandenburg, domain bioarchaeology (Brandenburgisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologisches Landesmuseum, Bereich Bioarchäologie)

Selected publications

International conference „Akarnanien. Interdisziplinäre Regionalstudien im Westen Griechenlands“: „Faunenreste aus der Stratiké“.

Prust, A.: Faunal remains from Stratos, Acarnania; Conference Volume: Akarnanien – Interdisziplinäre Regionalstudien im Westen Griechenlands; Internationale Konferenz, Fachgebiet Klassische Archäologie, Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2.-3. Oktober 2009 (in print).