From 1974 to the present, the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas at Austin has carried out archaeological excavations in the ancient territory (chora) of Metaponto, now located in the modern province of Basilicata on the southern coast of Italy. This wide-ranging investigation, which covers a number of sites and a time period ranging from prehistory to the Roman Empire, has unearthed a wealth of new information about the ancient rural economy in southern Italy. These discoveries will be published in a multi-volume series titled The Chora of Metaponto. This volume on archaeozoology—the study of animal remains from archaeological sites—is the second in the series, following The Chora of Metaponto: The Necropoleis (1998).
Archaeozoology at Pantanello and Five Other Sites describes the animal remains found throughout Metaponto and discusses what they reveal about ancient practices of hunting and herding, domestication and importation of new breeds, people's attitudes toward animals, and what animal remains indicate about past environments. A chapter devoted to bird bones, which are a relatively rare find because of their fragility, provides high quality information on the environment and methods of fowling, as well as on the beliefs and symbolism associated with birds. The final chapter covers tools—some simple, others sophisticated and richly decorated—made from animal bones.
Sándor Bökönyi (1926–1994), an internationally renowned scholar, was one of the founders of modern archaeozoology after World War II. He worked especially in central and southeastern Europe and the Near East. He established the Archaeozoological Collections of the Hungarian National Museum and was employed subsequently by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, serving as president of the Institute of Archaeology.
Erika Gál received her Ph.D. in palaeontology in 2002. In addition to tertiary and quaternary palaeo-ornithology, she has subsequently specialized in the study of avian and mammalian bones, as well as bone artifacts from archaeological contexts. Currently she is based at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
László Bartosiewicz is senior lecturer in zooarchaeology at the Institute of Archaeological Sciences of the Loránd Eötvös University in Budapest. He has been teaching the same subject area as reader in the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh since 2004. He was elected President of the International Council for Archaeozoology in 2006.