The Neolithic “culinary package” of grain crops, bovids and pigs, domed clay ovens, grinding stones, storage facilities and pottery cooking …


The importance of domestic cereals as dietary staples of the Early Neolithic farmers in Europe is demonstrated by charred remains …

Organic geochemistry

The questions whether the use of animal products, such as meat, fat, and milk, varied regionally and how traditions and …


During the spread of Neolithic from the Near East to Europe, domestic animals were brought into new environments which differed …

FOOD CULTURES: Interdisciplinary studies of early farming, food technology and palaeodiet in Southeastern Europe

This DFG-funded interdisciplinary project aims to investigate diversity in early farming food technology and palaeodiet in Southeastern Europe (c. 6200-5500 cal BC) using a combination of archaeological, geochemical, stable isotope and microbotanical analyses.

The shift from foraging to farming is arguably one of the pivotal events in human prehistory. The Balkan Peninsula is a zone of transition from semi-arid to temperate environments and therefore a key region for the adaptation of Near Eastern farming technology and its spread into the European continent. Nutrition was of primary importance for the survival and success of early agricultural societies. Thus, the spread of agriculture was possible only by rapid adaptation of food acquisition strategies, diet and food processing technology to new environments.

The project will carry out interdisciplinary research in three geographic areas with distinct ecosystems, different histories of transition to agriculture and crossroad positions in the farming dispersal: Thrace in the southern Balkans (Karanovo I period), Šumadija in the central Balkans (early Starčevo period) and Alföld in the eastern Carpathian Basin (Starčevo/Körös period). Archaeological studies of artefacts and their contexts will be combined with organic residue analysis of ceramics, identification of plant microfossils preserved on stone artefacts, and studies of high-resolution intra-enamel carbon and oxygen isotope profiles of domestic herbivore teeth to reconstruct and compare the food technology and the strategies of food acquisition in these three case studies.

The results of the interdisciplinary research on early Neolithic food technology and diet in the Balkans and in the Carpathian Basin will provide crucial implications for understanding the success of the farming conquest in Europe in the long term.

FoodCultures is funded through the German Research Foundation (DFG). Grant Number: IV101/5-1. Project Duration: 1st October 2013 – 30th November 2017. Principal Investigator: Dr Maria Ivanova (University of Heidelberg, Germany) Budget: 416,572.00 €.