Project Details


Demographic changes by the end of the Middle Ages led to a growing demand for food products in Northwestern Europe, ultimately prompting a series of innovations (e.g. introduction of improved livestock breeds) to raise agricultural productivity. The timing and nature of this so called (second) Agricultural Revolution, remain a topic of debate, as historians are divided about whether this phenomenon was a more recent, short term revolutionary event or a gradual process with late medieval roots. This study revisits the debate by studying shape and size in archaeological cattle remains as a proxy for (post-)medieval livestock improvement in the southern Low Countries. By combining 3D-scanning and novel morphometric (skeletal measurement) techniques on cattle teeth and mandibles, the origins and nature of the Agricultural Revolution are assessed. Morphological variation in teeth is used as an indicator of the range of populations from which meat was sourced and the degree to which animals were traded. Oxygen and strontium isotope analyses on a subsample of teeth give further insight into cattle mobility and pinpoint the provenance of livestock. Using cutting-edge techniques from archaeological science, this project tackles a standing problem in agricultural history that is difficult to study using only documentary sources. The results improve our understanding of the mechanisms that led to contemporary agricultural practices and are informative about aspects of current society
Effective start/end date1/11/2331/10/26


  • zooarchaeology
  • livestock improvement
  • agricultural revolution

Flemish discipline codes 2018-2023

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Archaeology of the Low countries or Belgium
  • Medieval archaeology
  • Archaeology of foods and diets


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.