Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 1-1 (May 2009)Leendert P. Louwe Kooijmans: The agency factor in the process of Neolithisation – a Dutch case study1
6 Subsistence

6.2 Fowling

On the basis of the number of identifications it would seem that fowling was far more important in Delfland than at other Meso- and Neolithic sites in the delta. Comparison of the weights of the bones of birds and mammals (a better way of assessing the animals’ roles in meat supply) however shows that large mammals were dominant in absolute terms (see the tables in Zeiler 2006a). It is nevertheless interesting to consider what choices were made.


Fig. 13 Ratios of the numbers of remains of birds in four sufficiently large assemblages. See the caption fig. 9 for the sources.

We have only remains collected by hand to assess the importance of fowling. At all three sites duck hunting was evidently a prominent activity (fig. 13). It focused on wild ducks and teal. The range of birds hunted at Ypenburg was however far more diverse than that at the other sites, including more geese, swans, cormorants and white-tailed eagles, and a conspicuously high percentage of cranes. Cranes were evidently systematically hunted: quantities of crane bones were found associated with all the house sites. In the early phases (1-2a) of Schipluiden, too, the aforementioned species were hunted more than in later times, but still to a much lesser extent than at Ypenburg. Attributing these differences to local ecological conditions and then making statements based on these differences in hunted species would be oversimplifying things. In the first place, many of the differences are not very environmentally specific and, secondly, we would find ourselves caught up in circular reasoning. Such explanations are plausible only if unrelated data sets (for example mammals, birds and fish) show parallel trends, and if those trends are in accordance with palaeogeographic evidence obtained in a different manner. For the time being we attribute the differences – in particular the high crane scores at Ypenburg - to local preferences.