Regional diversity in subsistence among early farmers in Southeast Europe revealed by archaeological organic residues

Lucy Cramp, Jonathan Ethier, Dushka Urem-Kotsou, C. Bonsall, Dusan Borić, Adina Boroneanţ, Richard P. Evershed, Slaviša Perić, Mélanie Roffet-Salque, Helen Whelton, Maria Ivanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 likely related to the particular climatic and environmental conditions encountered, as well as the nature of localised hunter-gatherer and farmer interactions. The establishment of farming in the interior of the Balkans represents the first movement of Southwest 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 shows 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2347
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B.
Issue number1894
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2019


  • lipid biomarkers
  • organic residues
  • Aquatic
  • pottery
  • Neolithic farmer
  • stable isotopes


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