New insights into the Early Neolithic economy and management of animals in Southern and Central Europe revealed using lipid residue analyses of pottery vessels

Mélanie Roffet-Salque, G. Radi, A. Tagliacozzo, B. Pino Uria, S. Wolfram, I. Hohle, H. Staeuble, A. Whittle, D. Hofmann, J. Pechtl, S. Schade-Lindig, U. Eisenhauer, R. P. Evershed

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

43 Citations (Scopus)


Analyses of organic residues preserved in ceramic potsherds enable the identification of foodstuffs processed in archaeological vessels. Differences in the isotopic composition of fatty acids allow differentiation of non-ruminant and ruminant fats, as well as adipose and dairy fats. This paper investigates the trends in milk use in areas where sheep and goats are dominant in the faunal assemblage and in some sites from the Linearbandkeramik culture. Sites include: Colle Santo Stefano, Abruzzo, Italy, and the Oldest to Young Linearbandkeramik sites of Zwenkau, Eythra and Brodau, Saxony, and Wang and Niederhummel, Bavaria, Germany. More than 160 potsherds were investigated including cooking pots, bowls, jars, and ceramic sieves. The lipid residues presented provide direct evidence for the processing of ruminant and non-ruminant commodities at Zwenkau and Eythra, despite the absence of faunal remains at the sites. No dairy residues were detected in potsherds from LBK sites, except in a ceramic sieve at Brodau. Lipids from non-ruminant and ruminant fats, including from dairy fats, were detected at the site of Colle Santo Stefano showing a reliance on dairy products during the first half of the sixth millennium at this site; where sheep and goats were the major domestic animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • European prehistory
  • Neolithic
  • pottery vessels
  • sieves
  • lipids
  • fatty acids
  • delta C-13 values
  • animal products
  • milk
  • MILK
  • AGE

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