Community differentiation and kinship among Europe’s first farmers

RA Bentley, P Bickle, L Fibiger, G Nowell, C Dale, REM Hedges, J Hamilton, J Wahl, M Francken, G Grupe, E Lenneis, M Teschler-Nicola, R-M Aborgast, A Whittle

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

102 Citations (Scopus)


Inequality is a fundamental topic of the social sciences, and its prehistoric origins in Europe are typically assumed to lie among the complex, densely-populated societies that developed millennia after their Neolithic predecessors. Here we present the earliest, statistically-significant evidence for inequality among the earliest farmers of Neolithic Europe. By using new strontium isotopic data from over three hundred early Neolithic human skeletons, we show evidence for unequal land access in prehistoric central Europe within a patrilocal kinship system. This supports the theory that the arrival of farming, through the control of resources, provided the seeds for hereditary inequality and intergenerational wealth transfers which grew to greater proportions later on in prehistoric Europe, and continues to the present day.
Translated title of the contributionCommunity diversity and kinship patterns among Europe's first farmers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9326-9330
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
Early online date29 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2012

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