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Keywords:

  • Iran;
  • bronze age;
  • birds;
  • Fulica atra;
  • palaeoecology;
  • taphonomy;
  • raw material

ABSTRACT

Archaeological excavations at the site of Shahr-i Sokhta yielded many bird remains. The excellent state of preservation allowed for the identification of 2875 specimens attributed to 43 different species. The avifaunal assemblage is mainly characterized by aquatic species, such as the Eurasian coot (Fulica atra), representing 60% of the identified remains, and the Anseriformes. The presence of cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus), see-see partridge (Ammoperdix griseogularis), black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) and spotted sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus) suggests that near the urban center there were also some very arid and semi-desert areas. The bird remains of Shahr-i Sokhta confirm the existence of environmental and climatic conditions that can still be found in central and northern Iran, near the Caspian Sea. With the exception of the Suliformes, Pelecaniformes and Accipitriformes, there is evidence that most species were hunted for their meat. Furthermore, eggshell fragments found at the site suggest that eggs were collected and used as food. Taphonomic analysis showed that the Gruiformes and the Anseriformes were eaten, while the other species were exploited for non-food purposes. The use of bird bones as raw material is indicated by the presence of anthropic marks on the ulnae of large birds. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.