A study of animal husbandry at Şapinuva through animal remains, 86Sr/88Sr isotope analysis, geometric morphometrics and Hittite texts.

Pişkin E.

XI. Intenrational Hittitology Congress , Çorum, Turkey, 13 - 19 December 2021

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Unpublished
  • City: Çorum
  • Country: Turkey
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


A study of animal husbandry at Şapinuva through animal remains, 86Sr/88Sr isotope analysis, geometric morphometrics and Hittite texts.

E. Pişkin, A. Süel, İ. Kandemir, S. Köksal, G. Özger, G. Durdu, M. Aydın, S. Gerçek.

 (Aygül hocam, Murat ve Semih isimleri alfabetik sıra ile koydum. Ne düşünüyorsun? Bu doğru mu? Sıralamayı değiştirmek istiyorsanız lütfen yapın)

Animal husbandry and agriculture were central to the economic success of the Hittite state. Numerous laws were issued to regulate every detail of raising and selling animals and their use for taxes, bounty, dowry, labour and ritual. Long distance mobility and transhumance are mentioned in various Hittite tablets as well as the distinction of different “kinds” of animals belonging to the same species. This research aimed to investigate mobility and transhumance of animals raised in Şapinuva through 86Sr/88Sr  isotope analysis, the possibility of selective breeding to achieve improved “breeds” through geometric morphometrics and supplement these with information derived directly from Hittite documents by means of translating 25 tablets from the archive discovered in Şapinuva.  We also aimed to see whether or not there were differences between the animal remains found at the two different areas excavated at Şapinuva; Ağılönü which a sacred area and Teplerarası which is the political/administrative seat of the city. We first created an isoscape based on 86Sr/88Sr values we derived from local rocks and snails. We then measured 86Sr/88Sr isotope values from teeth of sheep, goat and cattle which we projected against the isoscape in order to find out about the location and movements of the flocks. We obtained a picture of the land use related to raising animals and locations of transhumance places at the North and North west of the city. Some of the animals measured had no match in the local isoscape hence we supposed that these may represent animals imported to Şapinuva from other regions perhaps through the mechanisms mentioned above. We cannot exclude though the possibility that these animals were raised in areas within or close by the Şapinuva territory which we did not sampled. We found not strong evidence for distinction amongst the animals recovered from Ağılönü and Tepelerarası. Turning to the geometric morphometrics, we applied the technique on sheep, goat and cattle bones and, in some cases, there have been clear distinctions and groupings of animals implying that indeed different phenotypes existed. A distinction between the animals from Ağılönü and Tepelerarası was sometimes possible to be drawn whilst in other cases it was not apparent. Lastly, amongst the 25 Hittite tablets worked on, we often found reference to animal use and mobility, mostly related to the forms of booty taken, rituals performed another location and cattle send away to plough fields or accompany soldiers.

This research was made possible with the grant No 117K382 obtained by TÜBİTAK.