Zooarchaeological evidence for meat consumption at Zita, Tunisia, during the Punic to Roman occupations (2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE)

Victoria Moses, Brett Kaufman, Ali Drine, Hans Barnard, Sami Ben Tahar, Elyssa Jerray, Megan Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although Roman North Africa is known for its production of cereals, faunal evidence from the Neo-Punic urban mound of Zita in South East Tunisia shows that meat was an important part of the diet. Similarly to other North African sites, sheep and goat contributed the most to meat consumption in all time periods. The proportions of cattle, sheep/goat, and pig (the most common sources of meat in most Roman influenced sites) are closer to the nearby site of Meninx than to Carthage. This research uses the complete collection of faunal material from one feature at Zita to analyse pre-Roman and Roman meat consumption. Because data from few comparable sites are available, this analysis adds new understanding to diet over time in the region, but further studies at Zita and in the region more broadly would help confirm these findings. Zooarchaeological remains show a diet heavily dependent on sheep and goat, with fish, molluscs, cattle, pig, and chicken also commonly consumed. Wild animals in the diet include hare and birds. Other fauna recovered were indirectly related to human activities; small terrestrial animals like amphibians, snakes, and rodents were likely attracted to refuse and increased as the site became more industrialised in the Roman period. The data show that the diet at Zita remains consistent across time, indicating a strong and ongoing local influence on cuisine despite transitions in the political infrastructure from Carthaginian to Neo-Punic/Roman periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-559
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Punic
  • Roman
  • Tunisia
  • cultural change
  • diet
  • zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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