Paper on the expansion of animal husbandry in the Balkans

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Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07427-x

Since their domestication in the Mediterranean zone of Southwest Asia in the eighth millennium
BC, sheep, goats, pigs and cattle have been remarkably successful in colonizing a broad variety of
environments. The initial steps in this process can be traced back to the dispersal of farming groups
into the interior of the Balkans in the early sixth millennium BC, who were the first to introduce
Mediterranean livestock beyond its natural climatic range. Here, we combine analysis of biomolecular
and isotopic compositions of lipids preserved in prehistoric pottery with faunal analyses of taxonomic
composition from the earliest farming sites in southeast Europe to reconstruct this pivotal event in the
early history of animal husbandry. We observe a marked divergence between the (sub)Mediterranean
and temperate regions of Southeast Europe, and in particular a significant increase of dairying in
the biochemical record coupled with a shift to cattle and wild fauna at most sites north of the Balkan
mountain range. The findings strongly suggest that dairying was crucial for the expansion of the earliest
farming system beyond its native bioclimatic zone.