Hoofprints in the sand: A study on domestic sheep (Ovis aries) from Iron Age southern Phoenicia using traditional biometric methods

Sierra Harding, Shyama Vermeersch, Catherine Ujma, Ghavin Deonarain, Matthew Susnow, Roee Shafir, Ayelet Gilboa, Gunnar Lehmann, Nimrod Marom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of research to date on the translocation of livestock in the premodern (before 1500 CE) Mediterranean Basin has focused on expansive movements out from geographic origins of domestication or from colonizer-to-colonized territories. Fewer zooarchaeological studies have investigated the lateral trajectories of distinct varieties of domesticated animals around the post-Neolithic eastern Mediterranean, partially due to the difficulty in detecting intra-species variation osteologically. The research conducted in the present study sought to improve understanding of the human-mediated mobility of domestic sheep (Ovis aries) from Iron Age settlements in the southern Levant. Variability in body size and a greater variety of morphotypes were expected from coastal flocks in southern Phoenicia in comparison to inland herds, possibly due to the dynamic influence of maritime trade. Biometric data analysis of zooarchaeological materials using log size index and astragalar dimension index methods revealed evidence for the possible optimization of coastal sheep for wool production and a potential introduction event in the Persian period. The Aegean region could be a source for this introduction; however, further research is needed to specify the geographic origin of this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-93
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 20 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA


  • Astragalar dimension index
  • Log size index
  • Persian period
  • Sheep
  • Southern Phoenicia
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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