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Disappearance Beyond Recall: A Social Context for Bronze Age Aurochs Extinction in Britain?

  • Christopher Evans (a1)
Abstract

The interest which attaches to the history of extinct British animals can only be equalled by the regret which must be felt, by all true naturalists, at their disappearance beyond recall from our fauna (Harting 1880, 3; emphasis added).

The implications of pit-deposits containing aurochs/Bos primigenius skulls dating to the Bronze Age, found in two recent excavations in Bedfordshire are outlined. Involving a review of related findings in south-eastern England, these serve as a platform to consider the dynamics of aurochs extinction, which is held to have occurred in Britain by the middle–later centuries of the 2nd millennium bc. It should be stressed that, although consulting many ‘expert’ colleagues, this paper is not written from a faunal remains-specialist perspective. It is essentially discursive and primarily intended to highlight a significant site-recovery trend. It reflects, moreover, on issues of broad social relevance. Holocene human-induced extinctions have both an inherent curiosity and poignancy. Indeed now, faced with currently threatened mass-species loss, they can even involve – beyond regret – a sense of cumulative guilt.

Disparition sans rappel: contexte social de l’extinction des aurochs à l’âge du bronze en Grande-Bretagne? de Christopher Evans

Nous résumons les implications des dépôts de fosses contenant des crânes d’aurochs, Bos primigenius, datant de l’âge du bronze, découverts au cours de deux fouilles récentes dans le Bedfordshire. Comportant un bilan des trouvailles du sud-est de l’Angleterre qui s’y rattachent, elles servent de plateforme à l’examen de la dynamique de l’extinction des aurochs que l’on tient pour s’être déroulée en Grande-Bretagne avant le milieu de la deuxième moitié du second millénaire av.J.-C. Il nous faut insister que, même si nous avons consulté de nombreux collègues `experts’en la matière, cet article n’est pas écrit du point de vue d’un spécialiste en vestiges de faune. Il est essentiellement discursif et l’intention première est de souligner une importante tendance à la récupération sur site. Il réfléchit, de plus, sur des questions de pertinence sociale générale. Les extinctions de l’holocène provoquées par l’homme ont à la fois une curiosité et un aspect poignant inhérents. En fait, maintenant, face à la menace actuelle de la perte d’espèces en masse, elles peuvent même impliquer, au-delà du regret, un sentiment de culpabilité cumulée.

Verschwinden ohne Wiederkehr: ein sozialer Kontext für das bronzezeitliche Aussterben des Auerochsen in Großbritannien? von Christopher Evans

Dieser Beitrag zieht Rückschlüsse aus Niederlegungen mit Schädeln von Auerochsen (Bos primigenius) in Gruben, die bei zwei Ausgrabungen der jüngeren Zeit in Bedfordshire gefunden wurden und in die Bronzezeit datieren. Ein Überblick über vergleichbare Befunden aus dem Südosten Englands wird als Basis genutzt um die Dynamik des Aussterbens des Auerochsen zu betrachten, das sich wohl in Großbritannien im mittleren und späten 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr. vollzog. Es muss betont werden, dass dieser Beitrag, trotz Rücksprache bei zahlreichen „Experten” im Kollegenkreis, nicht von der Warte eines Spezialisten für Tierknochenfunde aus geschrieben wurde. Er ist im Grunde diskursiv und zielt vor allem darauf ab, einen signifikanten Trend der Entdeckung von Fundplätzen herauszustellen. Darüber hinaus reflektiert er über Themen von weiter sozialer Relevanz. Vom Menschen im Holozän ausgelöste Ausrottungen rufen sowohl Neugierde als auch Schmerz hervor. Sie können sogar heute, im Angesicht des gegenwärtig drohenden massenhaften Verlusts von Arten, jenseits des Bedauerns ein Gefühl kumulativer Schuld erzeugen.

Desaparición más allá del recuerdo: el contexto social de la extinción del bisonte durante la Edad del Bronce en Inglaterra? Por Christopher Evans

Se resumen las implicaciones de los depósitos en fosa que contienen cráneos de bisontes/Bos primigenius datados en la Edad del Bronce y que se han localizado en dos recientes intervenciones en Bedfordshire. A partir de una revisión de hallazgos similares en el sureste de Inglaterra, estos depósitos se utilizan como ejemplo para considerar la dinámica de extinción de los bisontes, la cual se produce en Inglaterra en los últimos siglos del segundo milenio bc. Se debe señalar que, aunque se ha consultado a muchos colegas “expertos”, este artículo no está redactado desde la perspectiva del especialista en fauna. Es esencialmente discursivo y remarca principalmente la tendencia significativa de la recuperación de los sitios. Esto se refleja, además, en cuestiones de amplia relevancia social. Las extinciones holocenas inducidas por el ser humano provocan una curiosidad inherente y conmoción. Además ahora, considerando la pérdida en masa de especies actualmente amenazadas, puede incluso implicar –más allá del arrepentimiento – una sensación de culpa acumulada.

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