Break a Leg: Animal Health and Welfare in Medieval, Emden, Germany

Break a Leg: Animal Health and Welfare in Medieval, Emden, Germany

Break a Leg: Animal Health and Welfare in Medieval, Emden, Germany

By Jessica M. Grimm


Abstract: The presented study investigates the pathologically changed animal bones from medieval Emden, Germany. Conditions are described, interpreted and compared with material from Ireland (a regional study including several historical sites), Germany (early medieval Hedeby and its successor Schleswig) and The Netherlands (Roman settlement Tiel-Passewaaij).

Introduction: This article is part of my forthcoming PhD-thesis which deals with the faunal remains from several excavations in the centre of the medieval town of Emden (Lower Saxony, Germany.). The aim of this thesis is to answer questions concerning the development of animal husbandry and the use of animal products in the medieval period. In this way, it is hoped to obtain a better understanding of the functions of a medieval town occupied by different groups of people and contrast this with the hinterland over a period of about 900 years (9th-17th century). Preliminary reports of this study have been previously published . The final study will be published in the Probleme der Küstenforschung issued by the Niedersächsisches Institut für historische Küstenforschung, Wilhelmshaven (Germany).

When Emden was established in the 9th century, the town lay in-land as the Dollart (an inlet) had not yet been washed out by the Marcellus flood of AD 1362. Before the flood, the Dollart area was drained towards the river Ems by the rivers Aa and Tjamme. The surrounding marshland was filled with many peasant villages and several early economic centres. The villages Hatzum and Groothusen for instance, which developed in the 8th century, lay only about 11 km away from Emden. These early economic centres participated in a network of trading places connecting Scandinavia with the Mediterranean. The trading ships would navigate orientating on the coast line. The favourable situation of Emden at the mouth of the river Ems allowed it both maritime trade routes and a route inland via the river. Several small rivers and three roads, one of which lead to Münster, secured Emden’s role as a trading place.

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