Crop manuring and intensive land management by Europe's first farmers

Amy Bogaard*, Rebecca Fraser, Tim H. E. Heaton, Michael Wallace, Petra Vaiglova, Michael Charles, Glynis Jones, Richard P. Evershed, Amy K. Styring, Niels H. Andersen, Rose-Marie Arbogast, Laszlo Bartosiewic, Armelle Gardeisen, Marie Kanstrup, Ursula Maier, Elena Marinova, Lazar Ninov, Marguerita Schaefer, Elisabeth Stephan

*Corresponding author for this work

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

250 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The spread of farming from western Asia to Europe had profound long-term social and ecological impacts, but identification of the specific nature of Neolithic land management practices and the dietary contribution of early crops has been problematic. Here, we present previously undescribed stable isotope determinations of charred cereals and pulses from 13 Neolithic sites across Europe (dating ca. 5900-2400 cal B. C.), which show that early farmers used livestock manure and water management to enhance crop yields. Intensive manuring inextricably linked plant cultivation and animal herding and contributed to the remarkable resilience of these combined practices across diverse climatic zones. Critically, our findings suggest that commonly applied paleodietary interpretations of human and herbivore delta N-15 values have systematically underestimated the contribution of crop-derived protein to early farmer diets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12589-12594
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume110
Issue number31
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2013

Keywords

  • agriculture
  • prehistoric
  • husbandry
  • paleodiet
  • CARBON-ISOTOPE DISCRIMINATION
  • NITROGEN
  • RATIOS
  • CEREALS
  • RECONSTRUCTION
  • AGRICULTURE
  • CULTIVATION
  • ECOSYSTEMS
  • EXTRACTION
  • HOLOCENE

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