Regarding horse meat, during an excavation carried out at Swan Street, Northampton in 1989, a horse burial was uncovered. The animal specialist report concludes that due to the marginal location and poor status of Swan Street ( a back street during medieval times) may mean that there was a greater possibility that the animal was butchered for human consumption.
This was published in Northamptonshire Archaeology, 1995/6.
>>> [log in to unmask] 03/09/01 12:25pm >>>
thanks for posing this question - one that many zoo-archaeologists often
ask. The probable reason would seem to me to be that horses were
domesticated for their power (Hans-Peter Uerpmann has written an interesting
piece on this). Hence, a horse would have been kept by people for many
years. During this time some kind of bond must have formed between animal
and owners and the nature of this relation made consuming what would have
become a "friend" rather difficult!
It is also necessary to remember that in France horses were not consumed
very much until the siege of Paris and the propagandising efforts of the
zoologist Geoffroy St. Hilaire. BUT: in earlier times Papal edict(s)
forbidding hippophagy suggest that indeed horse meat was consumed by people.
I understand that in the Arab world equids are occasionally eaten, but of
course horse meat is not kasher and therefore forbidden to Jews. You may
like to look at Fred. Simoons book on food habits around the world: Simoons,
F. 1994 Eat not this flesh, Madison, U. Wisconsin Press.
Why some other peoples, such as Chinese, Japanese and certain central
Asiatic groups do eat horse flesh, would seem to contradict the above idea -
there does'nt seem to be a great deal of logic in all this, but then is man
a logical being?
Early English texts recommend using horse flesh to feed to dogs, for example
in 1633, Gervase Markham recommended feeding "horse-flesh newly slaine, and
warm at the feeding," to hunting hounds on their rest days. This being "...
the strongest and lustiest meat you can give them, ...". but, as far as I
have been able to ascertain, the early agriculture writers never suggest we
should eat horse flesh.
At the market down the road from my flat here in Lisbon, there is a butcher
who does a lively trade in this flesh ....
Hope all this helps,
Instituto Português de Arqueologia,
Avenida da Índia 136,
P-1300 LISBOA, Portugal
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