New insights into the Neolithic of the Iron Gates

Cramp LJE et al. 2019 Regional diversity in subsistence among early farmers in Southeast Europe revealed by archaeological organic residues. Proc. R. Soc. B 286: 20182347.

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Abstract: The spread of early farming across Europe from its origins in Southwest Asia was a culturally transformative process which took place over millennia. Within regions, the pace of the transition was probably related to the particu- lar climatic and environmental conditions encountered, as well as the nature of localized hunter–gatherer and farmer interactions. The establishment of farming in the interior of the Balkans represents the first movement of South- west Asian livestock beyond their natural climatic range, and widespread evidence now exists for early pottery being used extensively for dairying. However, pottery lipid residues from sites in the Iron Gates region of the Danube in the northern Balkans show that here, Neolithic pottery was being used predominantly for processing aquatic resources. This stands out not only within the surrounding region but also contrasts markedly with Neolithic pottery use across wider Europe. These findings provide evidence for the strategic diversity within the wider cultural and economic practices during the Neolithic, with this exceptional environmental and cultural setting offering alternative opportunities despite the dominance of farming in the wider region.