Regional diversity in subsistence among early farmers in Southeast Europe revealed by archaeological organic residues

Lucy J.E. Cramp*, Jonathan Ethier, Dushka Urem-Kotsou, Clive Bonsall, Dušan Borić, Adina Boroneant, Richard P. Evershed, Slaviša Perić, Mélanie Roffet-Salque, Helen L. Whelton, Maria Ivanova

*Corresponding author for this work

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

16 Citations (Scopus)
260 Downloads (Pure)


The spread of early farming across Europe from its origins in Southwest Asia was a culturally transformative process which took place over millennia. Within regions, the pace of the transition was likely related to the particular climatic and environmental conditions encountered, as well as the nature of localized hunter-gatherer and farmer interactions. The establishment of farming in the interior of the Balkans represents the first movement of Southwest Asian livestock beyond their natural climatic range, and widespread evidence now exists for early pottery being used extensively for dairying. However, pottery lipid residues from sites in the Iron Gates region of the Danube in the northern Balkans shows that here, Neolithic pottery was being used predominantly for processing aquatic resources. This stands out not only within the surrounding region, but also contrasts markedly with Neolithic pottery use across wider Europe. These findings provide evidence for the strategic diversity within the wider cultural and economic practices during the Neolithic, with this exceptional environmental and cultural setting offering alternative opportunities despite the dominance of farming in the wider region.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20182347
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1894
Early online date16 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2019


  • Aquatic
  • Early farmer
  • Lipid biomarkers
  • Neolithic
  • Organic residues
  • Pottery

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