The Last Caravans in Antiquity: Camel Remains from Caričin Grad (Justiniana Prima)

Nemanja Marković, Vujadin Ivanišević, Henriette Baron, Craig Lawless, Michael Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Camels played an important role in caravan traffic and long-distance communication during the early Byzantine period as indicated by new findings from Caričin Grad. Excavations at Caričin Grad have revealed the remains of an important early Byzantine city, which has been identified with Justiniana Prima founded in the 530s by Justinian I (527–565). The city, created ex nihilo, in a rural area in the north-west of the province of Dacia Mediterranea, represents a distinctive example of late urbanisation. Given the existence of the city for only 80 years and the fact that the nearby locality remained uninhabited until modern times, the site has yielded well-preserved monuments and remains of material culture. Those features of the site allow a detailed study of the urbanism, architecture, material culture and diverse aspects of daily life from the second quarter of the 6th century to the beginning of the 7th century. The following paper describes the camel remains discovered in five locations in Caričin Grad. Morphometric and proteomic analyses, including both collagen peptide mass fingerprint analysis (ZooMS) as well as in-depth sequencing, revealed that the majority of camel remains originate from hybrids of the dromedary and Bactrian camels. Supported by written sources from the Early Byzantine period, it appears as though the use of Caričin Grad camels was primarily for civilian purposes. These results highlight the complementarity of morphometric and proteomic approaches and their value in better understanding the impact of the early Byzantine economy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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