- J. Ethier, E. Bánffy, J. Vuković, K. Bacvarov, M. Roffet-Salque, R. P. Evershed, M. Ivanova. Cash cows: The introduction of domestic livestock beyond the Mediterranean zone in the sixth millennium BC. Session 405 “Cattle-based Agriculture in Central Europe – introduction, spread and impact”
The wild progenitors of the main domestic animals in the Old World are endemic to regions with Mediterranean climate. Since their domestication, sheep, goats, pigs and cattle have been introduced to an enormous variety of environments, many of which would not have been tolerated by their wild ancestors. The first steps in this process can be traced back to the farming pioneers of the Balkans, who penetrated beyond the borders of the Mediterranean zone of Europe in the early centuries of the sixth millennium BC. Herein, we combine organic residue analysis of ceramic vessels with faunal data on taxonomic composition to investigate changes in livestock exploitation with its northward dispersal into the Balkans. Our results show notable differences in the scale of dairying between the Aegean and the southern Balkans, on one hand, and the northern Balkans and the Hungarian Plain on the other hand. They suggest that dairying and cattle herding were instrumental to the spread of the Mediterranean livestock system into the temperate areas of the Balkans, and from there across the entire European continent.
- M. Balasse, R. Berthon, R. Gillis, A. Balasescu, L. Kovacikova, É. Á. Nyerges, A. Tresset, E. Bánffy, J.-D. Vigne, R. Evershed and M. Ivanova. Adaptations of Neolithic cattle husbandry to Central Europe: integration of the woodland landscape component, seasonal reproduction, consequences on dairy economy. Session 405 “Cattle-based Agriculture in Central Europe – introduction, spread and impact”
Although the economic orientations of cattle husbandry in the Early Neolithic of Central Europe havebeen the subject of strong interest (evidencing milk exploitation, in particular), the modalities of ithave been investigated to a lesser extent. Agriculture expanded in Central Europe during a climatic optimum with wetter conditions and reduced seasonal contrast, and in environments with significantto dominating woodland components. Although consequences drawn on subsistence strategies have focused on plant cultivation, the way environmental parameters also impacted husbandry (animals and practices) should be carefully considered. Two questions in particular may be addressed: how was the woodland landscape component integrated into cattle husbandry systems? Can we characterize cattle reproduction cycle and what consequences should be drawn for dairy economy? Constraints and responses certainly differed among regions. As a first step, this presentation will present a stable isotope dataset illustrating the seasonal rhythms of cattle husbandry at the two LBK sites of Chotěbudice and Černý Vůl in Bohemia. Those will be assembled with similar data from contemporaneous sites in Hungary, Poland and eastern France, providing a larger view on the landscape setting of LBK cattle husbandry. Secondly, these results will be compared with those obtained at earlier sites from the Starcěvo complex in the Balkan area, from where the origins of the Early Neolithic of Central Europe lie. A synthesis will be eventually proposed for cattle birth distribution on a wider scale for the Neolithic of Europe, in order to evaluate how LBK cattle husbandry stands out based on this parameter.
- M. Ivanova, E. Marinova, B. De Cupere. Pioneer farming in the Balkans during the early sixth millennium BC: integrating quantitatave bioarchaeological datasets with bioclimatic parameters. Session 214 „The other side: The reality of the earliest farming in Europe and lessons for understanding agricultural origins“
The Balkans acted as a unique „laboratory“ for the adaptation of southwest-Asian farming to the environmental conditions of interior Europe. Initially developed in the zone of warm temperate climate with hot summers and steppic to semi-arid precipitation regime, in the first millennia of its existence this farming system based on endemic Near Eastern species dispersed within the limits of its native climatic zone. The earliest successful introduction of domesticates beyond the natural habitats of their wild progenitors took place in the interior of the Balkans during the early sixth millennium BC. Here, within a few centuries, cultivation and herding spread northwards across a variety of climatic zones, ranging from sub-Mediterranean to continental. How did these pioneers and their close descendants manage to make a living on the „other side“ of the climatic border? We integrate quantitative datasets of plant and animal remains form the earliest farming sites with bioclimatic predictors by multivariate statistical analysis to identify variation in subsistence and its relation to climate. The results indicate that distinct zones of farming and wild-resource procurement developed within the Balkans, with sites from similar biogeographic zones clustering close together, irrespective of their cultural affiliation.
- A. Chevalier, M. Ivanova, E. Bánffy , J. Vukovic, Food plants of the first Balkan farmers: assessing the diversity of domestic and wild plants through microfossils analyses on grinding tools. Session 285 „Approaches to Early Farming Systems: diffusion and development of agri cultural practices into the Mediterranean“
Grinding tools such as mortars and hand-mills represent a recurrent element in the artefact assemblages from the earliest farming sites in southeast Europe. Numerous ethnoarchaeological studies describe plant preparation by pounding and grinding as the most labour-intensive and timeconsuming domestic task in households dependent on non-mechanised processing. Plant microfossils preserved on prehistoric stone tools are therefore a highly promising (and largely underexplored) source of information on the plant food species exploited by the earliest farmers. In this communication, we will present the results of phytolith and starch analyses carried on grinding and ponding stone tools from four of the earliest farming sites in southeast Europe ( Ecsegfalva and Alsonyék in Hungary, Blagotin in Serbia, and Yabalkovo in Bulgaria) demonstrating their use for the processing of a range of cultivars and other edible plants, and adding valuable information on the already existing plant macroremain record to understand better the neolithization process in Europe.