Animal exploitation and pottery use during the early LBK phases of the Neolithic site of Bylany (Czech Republic) tracked through lipid residue analysis

Veronika Brychova*, Mélanie Roffet-Salque, Ivan Pavlu, Jan Kyselka, Pavlina Kyjaková, Vladimir Filip, Ivo Svetlik , Richard P Evershed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

The Neolithic site of Bylany (CZ) is one of the largest and most thoroughly described Neolithic settlement in Central Europe. Although a comprehensive understanding has been achieved of the household development and pottery assemblage, little is known about household economies, dietary practices and animal exploitation strategies at the site. Nowadays such information can be tracked through the molecular and isotopic composition of organic lipid residues preserved in porous walls of archaeological potsherds (e.g. Cramp et al. 2014; Whelton et al. 2017). The pottery assemblage of Bylany is very abundant and this approach had previously been applied to one of the later settlement phases (later LBK, phase 19) revealing a meat- and plant-based diet and an exploitation of both ruminant and non-ruminant animals. To examine the economy over a longer settlement period of Bylany, ceramic material from the oldest part of the settlement was chosen. More than 130 rim potsherds attributed to the early LBK settlement phases 2 to 5 were analysed using a lipid biomarker approach combining chromatographic, spectrometric and isotopic methods. The analyses revealed that the fats absorbed in the ceramics were well-preserved with almost 90% of the sherds containing lipids. The lipid concentration varied in different vessel shapes with higher concentrations in dishes compared to bowls and jars. The stable carbon isotopic compositions of palmitic and stearic fatty acids, the major fatty acids present in the total lipid extracts, revealed that ruminant carcass products were the predominant animal products processed in the vessels. Plant product processing were confirmed by the presence of fatty alcohols, dicarboxylic acids and terpenic compounds. Detection of biomarkers produced at high temperature confirmed the thermal stress observed in some of the vessels. Although ruminants probably played a dominant role in the early phases of Bylany, as seen in the later phase 19, dairy fat residues were not detected in the analysed potsherds. These results thus shed light on the dietary strategies practiced in Bylany and are in agreement with the studies of other Central European Neolithic sites.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Organic residue analysis
  • Lipids
  • Stable carbon isotopes
  • Pottery function
  • Early Neolithic Europe
  • Linearbandkeramik pottery culture

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