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Immediate replacement of fishing with dairying by the earliest farmers of the northeast Atlantic archipelagos

Cramp, Lucy J. E., Jones, Jennifer ORCID:, Sheridan, Alison, Smyth, Jessica, Whelton, Helen, Mulville, Jacqui ORCID:, Sharples, Niall ORCID: and Evershed, Richard P. 2014. Immediate replacement of fishing with dairying by the earliest farmers of the northeast Atlantic archipelagos. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281 (1780) , 20132372. 10.1098/rspb.2013.2372

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The appearance of farming, from its inception in the Near East around 12 000 years ago, finally reached the northwestern extremes of Europe by the fourth millennium BC or shortly thereafter. Various models have been invoked to explain the Neolithization of northern Europe; however, resolving these different scenarios has proved problematic due to poor faunal preservation and the lack of specificity achievable for commonly applied proxies. Here, we present new multi-proxy evidence, which qualitatively and quantitatively maps subsistence change in the northeast Atlantic archipelagos from the Late Mesolithic into the Neolithic and beyond. A model involving significant retention of hunter–gatherer–fisher influences was tested against one of the dominant adoptions of farming using a novel suite of lipid biomarkers, including dihydroxy fatty acids, ω-(o-alkylphenyl)alkanoic acids and stable carbon isotope signatures of individual fatty acids preserved in cooking vessels. These new findings, together with archaeozoological and human skeletal collagen bulk stable carbon isotope proxies, unequivocally confirm rejection of marine resources by early farmers coinciding with the adoption of intensive dairy farming. This pattern of Neolithization contrasts markedly to that occurring contemporaneously in the Baltic, suggesting that geographically distinct ecological and cultural influences dictated the evolution of subsistence practices at this critical phase of European prehistory.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neolithic diet; archaeology; pottery; biomarkers; lipids; stable carbon isotopes.
Additional Information: Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publisher: Royal Society, The
ISSN: 0962-8452
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 August 2017
Date of Acceptance: 21 January 2014
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 18:35

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