The urban ecology of Iron Age Tel Megiddo: Using microvertebrate remains as ancient bio-indicators

L. Weissbrod, G. Bar-Oz, T. Cucchi, I. Finkelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The potential of microvertebrate remains for reconstructing the paleoecology of urban sites remains largely untapped except for extensive research carried out at Roman and medieval sites in Britain. We apply taphonomic and ecological approaches to analyzing an assemblage of microvertebrate remains from the Iron Age IIA of Tel Megiddo, Israel. Sampling in a dense residential area including house floors and various fills produced 1080 identifiable specimens including fish, mammal, reptile and bird remains. The mammalian remains show a number of distinct patterns pointing to accumulation from the community of small animals which lived and died on-site. These patterns include evidence for fragmentation due to trampling and presence of burned specimens. The mammalian remains also differed in their taphonomy from an assemblage from Early Bronze Age II Megiddo which originated from predator accumulation during a period of abandonment. These analyses point to an especially low taxonomic diversity in the Iron Age residential assemblage suggesting that the urban environment of Megiddo supported a unique community of small mammalian animals. This differs markedly from ecological conditions in modern day cities which in some cases show greater than background levels of diversity and suggests a dense, homogenous urban environment. We suggest that reconstructing the evolution of urban fauna in greater detail will provide a sensitive tool for tracing historical processes of growth, decline and increasing complexity of urban sites in the Near East as well as other regions of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-267
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Ancient bio-indicators
  • Iron Age
  • Microvertebrate taphonomy
  • Near East
  • Tel Megiddo
  • Urban ecology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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