Neolithic dairy farming at the extreme of agriculture in northern Europe.

Lucy J E Cramp, Richard P Evershed, Mika Lavento, Petri Halinen, Kristiina Mannermaa, Markku Oinonen, Johannes Kettunen, Markus Perola, Paivi Onkamo, Volker M Heyd

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

104 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


The conventional ‘Neolithic package’ comprised animals and plants originally
domesticated in the Near East. As farming spread on a generally
northwest trajectory across Europe, early pastoralists would have been
faced with the challenge of making farming viable in regions in which the
organisms were poorly adapted to providing optimal yields or even surviving.
Hence, it has long been debated whether Neolithic economies were ever
established at the modern limits of agriculture. Here, we examine food residues
in pottery, testing a hypothesis that Neolithic farming was practiced
beyond the 60th parallel north. Our findings, based on diagnostic biomarker
lipids and d13C values of preserved fatty acids, reveal a transition at ca 2500
BC from the exploitation of aquatic organisms to processing of ruminant
products, specifically milk, confirming farming was practiced at high latitudes.
Combining this with genetic, environmental and archaeological
information, we demonstrate the origins of dairying likely accompanied
an incoming, genetically distinct, population successfully establishing this
new subsistence ‘package’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number20140819
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2014


  • 60th parallel north
  • dairy farming
  • biomarker lipids
  • lactase persistence
  • incoming prehistoric population


Dive into the research topics of 'Neolithic dairy farming at the extreme of agriculture in northern Europe.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this