The Balkan Peninsula is a zone of transition from semi-arid to temperate environments and thus a key region for the adaptation and expansion of farming economy into continental Europe in the sixth mill. BC. Radiocarbon dates suggest that in less than 500 years, between 6000 and 5500 calBC, thousands of new farming villages emerged between the southern Balkans and the northwestern fringes of the Carpathian basin. Why was the spread of farming across Southeastern Europe so successful? Certainly, farming expansion was enabled by a complex set of economic and social adaptations, but factors such as nutrition must have been of primary importance for the survival and success of the first farmers. The program for interdisciplinary research in this project is guided by the following primary aims:
– To define the geographic variation in the material culture of food processing by analysing the characteristics, contexts and frequency of artefacts and installations, and to interpret the archaeological record by using studies from other regions of the world and the ethnographic record (Archaeology).
– To evaluate the diversity in the use of animal products by studying organic residues on pottery vessels with the methods of biomolecular archaeology (Organic residue analysis).
– To detect environmental adaptations in animal husbandry by applying stable isotope analysis for reconstruction of birth and diet seasonality, and by relating the observations to techniques of management and use of domestic animals (Zooarchaeology).
– To characterize the spectrum of domestic and wild plant foodstuffs by enhancing the existing macrobotanical evidence with studies of plant microfossils preserved on food processing tools and human dental calculus (Archaeobotany).